It’s been quite a week since I announced that I’m handing over the day-to-day CEO reins to Arne Sorenson. The blog comments have been truly heartwarming. Thank you so much.
So people ask, “What went into my decision?”
I try to lead from my heart and my heart said, “Now’s the time.” For some reason, many of you thought that we were talking about the “R” word – retirement. I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be executive chairman and as I said in numerous media interviews, Arne will be driving the bus, but I’ll still be onboard.
So, why now? I think timing is everything in life. Next year, I will celebrate four personal milestones: I’ll turn 80 years of age in March. I'll have worked at Marriott for 60 years in June. I’ll have been CEO for almost 40 years and celebrate that anniversary in November. And I will have known Arne Sorenson for 20 years. These are nice round zero dates.
It’s also a time of great strength for our company. We’re totally focused on lodging and developing the best hotel brands in the world. I also didn’t want to wait until next year. I can hear the whispers, “When’s it going to happen?” Well, it has happened. And after a week, it feels good. It’s perfect timing just before the holidays.
While I surprised some folks, one thing that surprised me was the reaction. The media was overly generous with very flattering stories. During a rally at our headquarters, I had a difficult time keeping my emotions in check. It was a day that I’ll never forget. (video excerpt below)
You’ve often heard me blog about my family. Well, I really wanted their blessing. Once again, they kept it “real.” I think you’ll find this story amusing. There’s an expression that I would use on long road trips when the kids would start acting up in the back seat. I would holler at them and say “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.” When I told my children about this big decision and waited for their blessings, they said, “Well, you’ve been CEO for 40 years. ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.’ It’s time for you to let up a little bit.”
Many ask, “How do I feel?” Above all, I’m grateful first to my family, especially my wife, Donna, grateful for the opportunity to work with so many talented people, and very grateful that Arne is ready.
As executive chairman, I’m not going anywhere. I will continue to blog and stay in touch with all of you. And now, as I said to our Marriott associates at the end of the rally:
LET’S GET BACK TO WORK.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.
Below are links to some media coverage:
Voice of America
Please leave a comment.
(Just glanced at some comments. Thanks again for your wonderful remarks. Remember, I'm NOT retiring. Don't send me out to pasture yet.)