A woman of persistence
By Dana Chrysler
Everett Community College Alumni Outreach Specialist
Barb Lamoureux lives by the credo, “Ninety-nine percent of success is showing up.” Barb has done a lot of showing up in her life and has a very successful career to show for it. Well known in the Everett area, Barb's real estate business has been built through perseverance, integrity, and referrals by satisfied clients.
A 1965 graduate of Everett Community College, Barb shared the foundation of her success:
“From the very first day, I swore I would never do anything on the cheap,” she said. “I would never lie to a client to get their business. It was always a sort of mantra: if I wouldn't put my kids or my parents in a house, I would rather you not be there, either. I've always gone that extra mile.”
After graduating from Everett High School in 1963, Barb began attending Everett Junior College (now Everett Community College or "EvCC"), while many of her classmates joined the military with the Vietnam War in full swing.
“In those days, women became teachers, nurses, or homemakers. So I was going to be a teacher,” she said.
Barb jumped headlong into college activities, becoming the ASB secretary and earning the “Woman of the Year” award in 1965 just prior to graduation. After obtaining her AA degree from Everett Junior College, she attended the University of Washington, then moved to California, and eventually Hawaii, where she met her husband. Returning to Washington state in the early years of her marriage, Barb had every intention of picking up where she left off: she planned to go back to school, earn her teaching degree, and work as a Home Economics instructor.
During this time, however, she went to work at Judd & Black, working alongside her dad and brothers.
“Once I started working, I started making really good money,” she recalled. “But there was this level of dissatisfaction. I just couldn't figure out who I was and what I wanted.”
In 1983, after working six years for Judd & Black, Barb was earning an extremely good salary. It was around this time that she took a personality assessment that changed her life.
“I learned that I have a “High D” temperament—we always need a change. I realized that the reason for my discontent was that I was not doing what I was destined to do. I was really holding myself back,” she said.
The personality test elicited one of many “aha!” moments in Barb's life.
“I understood that I couldn't stay at Judd & Black. I was a leader and I needed to be in charge. I remember sitting on my couch in the middle of the night, having to make a decision,” she recalled. “I finally decided that I wasn't ever going to be who I'm going to be if I stayed.” So she made the difficult decision to strike out on her own.
In the years that followed, Barb made a living doing color analysis and traveling the country teaching for the American Fashion Institute. The financial rewards came, but were limited by the fact that Barb was not allowed to be in charge—someone else was always calling the shots. In her heart, Barb knew she could do better.
“I got into real estate when I was in my 40s. There wasn't anything else that I could think of to do where I could make the kind of money that I made at Judd & Black,” she recalled. Her goal was to make $50,000 a year her first year in real estate. She remembered friend Bill Rucker telling her, “It's not possible. It's going to take you two or three years to make that.”
Little did Bill know that his statement was like throwing down the gauntlet to someone like Barb, who considered it the ultimate challenge.
“I remember seeing Bill about 10 years after that conversation and he asked why I was smiling. I said, 'Well, the reason is because I remember you telling me it wasn't possible to make $50,000 in my business and I just broke $500,000,'” she said.
With characteristic determination, Barb graduated from the Realtor’s Institute and was certified as a residential specialist, a seniors real-estate specialist and a certified residential broker. In 2003, her achievements were recognized when the Snohomish-Island County Association of Realtors honored her as their Realtor of the Year.
The financial rewards came, but for Barb, it wasn't just about the money.
“I never needed that much,” she said. “So it never bothered me to give it away. My dad always used to say, 'You can only carry a bucket of money in each hand; everything else will either fall on the ground or you need to give it away,'” she recalled. Barb took his advice to heart and has been known to offer financial assistance to people she's read about in the newspaper or to provide tuition for a young person in need.
She admitted to some tough years, especially with the most recent economic downturn.
“Certainly, I've had my share of failures in life, but you just keep moving forward. Find a new way to stay engaged,” she said. That attitude of perseverance has made Barb successful.
“We've had more business this year than last year at this time, more closings, and a higher dollar volume. I feel like things are really starting to take off. The trick in a business like this is to stay positive.”
When asked what words of advice she would give to current Everett Community College students, Barb related, “I think it was Winston Churchill who said, 'Never, never, never give up.' I think that people who end up being really successful never give up. They run out of money to go to school, so they figure out another way. They figure out a way to get a different job, to borrow from somebody, to take a little time off, but you just can't give up,” she said.
From this vantage point in life, Barb has earned the credibility to provide that kind of advice. She credits her upbringing with instilling a work ethic that fanned the flame of career success.
“I just never quit. Everything was a challenge to me,” she stated. “You know, I took tap dancing lessons as a child and in those days, we had record players. There were recitals where I had to dance with all these other kids. Well, inevitably, you get 28 feet pounding on the stage and the music on the record player would jump from all of that pounding. And my mother always told me, 'When the music stops, keep smiling and keep dancing.' For me, that's like saying, 'Never, never give up.'”
Pondering life after her successful real estate career, Barb is typically optimistic.
“We've all got to go sometime and my plan is to live to 2050, which means I'll be 106. I hope I won't be sitting in some rocking chair just wasting time,” she said. “There's always got to be something else to do.”