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4 posts from February 2012

02/27/2012

World of Opportunity: Chance Encounters

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After 33 years with Marriott International, Nusrat Mirza learned first-hand how our company can open doors to a world of opportunity.

Nusrat Mirza

Nusrat’s story goes back to 1978, when he became a restaurant supervisor in one of our properties. Today, he’s the General Manager of our beautiful Renaissance Long Beach Hotel in California.

One day, after inviting his housekeeping staff to bring their children to work, Nusrat had a “chance encounter” with a young teenager named Mario. 

When asked what he wanted to do in life, the young boy confidently replied, “I want your job.”  Nusrat encouraged him to come back when he was older and like clockwork, Mario returned a few years later and was hired.  He’s now a front desk clerk known for his unfailing ability to deliver for his guests.  

One evening there was a mix-up when a guest thought she had reservations at the Renaissance, but in fact was booked at another hotel.  Mario reassured the weary traveler that he would help and, of course, quickly transferred her reservation to his hotel.  Way to go Mario!  

Nusrat Mirza with Bill Marriott

It’s great seeing a young person like Mario having success in our business.  He knew what he wanted and found a wonderful mentor in Nusrat. 

These mentorships take place at all of our hotels.  There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing an associate succeed and grow in their job. It’s the “Marriott Way.”

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

 

02/20/2012

More Lessons From A Car Guy

After nearly 40 years as a CEO at Marriott, I love to read about how others lead.  Recently, I blogged about Bob Lutz's new book "Car Guys vs. Bean Counters," which has many lessons from his tenure with General Motors. Bob Lutz

My 13-year service on the GM Board ended about a year after Bob came aboard.  But I've watched and admired him from afar.  General Motors has weathered some tough times lately and I found Bob's commentary about the problems that they have faced as powerful.  So I shared copies of his book with my senior leadership team.

The great concern I have, as a leader of a large corporation, is the risk of losing sight of the customer and their needs.  All too often big corporations think they know all the answers and become arrogant and inward focused. 

Bob understood that.  He had a gut instinct for focusing on the customer.  For example, at my first board meeting with General Motors, one of their senior leaders informed me that Cadillac was such a strong, wonderful brand there was no need to spend much money enhancing the design or improving the new cars.  When Bob came on board, he paid a lot of attention to Cadillac, which is once again the standard of luxury cars around the world.

In his book, Bob stresses the need to follow your instincts and rely on your own experience in making big business decisions.  He recognizes that there is a place for detailed financial analysis, spread sheets and power point presentations.  But they should never be the driving force guiding the company.

Bob Lutz's Book

Before he came to GM, Bob was a Marine Corps pilot and served in a Marine attack squadron at U.C. Berkeley.  He described a change of command when the squadron was taken over by a modest, humble Lieutenant Colonel who received a battlefield promotion in WW II. 

His name was Art Bauer and his day job was Hose Man #2 at the San Francisco Fire Department.  The squadron was composed of ambitious graduate students at Cal and Stanford who were shocked that such an uneducated man would be their commanding officer.  After the Change of Command ceremony, Colonel Bauer called his 20-odd junior officers together and gave the following talk as Bob Lutz remembered it.  

Colonel Bauer said: “I’m going to stay out of your way because you are all more capable than this old officer.  I don’t expect you to respect me for my flying ability, because it’s not at your level.  But I do want and demand your support and respect.  Not for me, but for the uniform I wear and the rank that is on it. You gentlemen, not I, are going to run this squadron and I don’t want you to let me down.”

Bob Lutz said the doubts and snickering soon stopped.  And, in 18 months Bauer’s squadron was rated number one in the entire Marine Corps Reserve.

Bob wrote that in leadership, as in all things, less is often more.  I hope that as time passes, Marriott leaders will remain faithful to a management style of humility and accountability, like Bob Lutz learned from his old squadron commander and from the mistakes that he witnessed at General Motors.

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

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02/13/2012

Remembering Dr. Burke, My Life-Saver

In August of 1985, I was putting gasoline into my boat at our summer place on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.  I turned on the ignition switch to check the gas level, when I heard an explosion.  The gas fumes had gathered around me as I stood on the deck and exploded with a spark from the switch.  I was engulfed with flames.  I went to the local hospital and was soon taken by helicopter to the Burn Unit at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

John "Jack" Burke MD

I was met by Dr. Jack Burke who was chief of trauma and head of the Burn Unit at MGH.  He cared for me for 16 days.  Dr. Burke passed away in early November at the age of 89.  He saved my life.  When I was admitted to the hospital, I was diagnosed with third degree burns on my hands and legs.  I underwent several hours of surgery.  Dr. Burke took skin from my thigh and grafted the back of my legs and my hands.  I learned that when your hands are burned, they curl up and become claw-like. 

To prevent this and to keep my hands flat after surgery, Dr. Burke used super glue to attach hooks from a lady’s dress to my fingernails.  He then used ping pong paddles with dress hooks at the top.  Then, he stretched my hands flat across the paddles and used rubber bands to attach the hooks on my fingers to the hooks on the paddles.  My hands were stretched flat on the paddles so they wouldn’t curl up.  I had paddles for hands for over a week in the hospital.  Today, my hands are scarred from the burns but they are totally functional.  No claws. Dr. John "Jack" Burke

As I was cared for by Dr. Burke, I learned using paddles to heal burned hands was not his only creation.  The New York Times reported that together with Dr. Ioannis V. Yannas, a professor of fibers and polymers in MIT’s department of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Burke created artificial skin. 

Over 11 years, these two men led a team that developed a material of amalgam of plastics, cow tissue and shark cartilage that became the first commercially reproducible, synthetic human skin.  It would save the lives of innumerable, severely burned people worldwide.

Dr. Burke served in World War II as a fighter pilot in the Italian Campaign and I once persuaded him to tell me about his encounters with German Messerschmitts over Italy.

I will miss my friend and doctor, Jack Burke.  He was a great blessing in my life. 

I’m Bill Marriott and thank you for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

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02/06/2012

The Super Bowl and Super Brands

COURTYARD_SUPERBOWL1

Courtyard by Marriott guests love football.  So you can imagine all the lobby buzz for the Big Game.

Courtyard was right in the thick of it as the official hotel sponsor for the National Football League.  We even set up a Courtyard by Marriott Lobby Zone at the NFL Experience where fans of both brands could meet players and really get into the spirit of the game.  As you can see, it was a blast.  The power brands have been great partners right from the start.  

CourtyardNFL

When Courtyard was launched in 1983, it created a new segment in the lodging industry.  Today, with more than 900 hotels worldwide, it continues to plow past the competition. Every day the brand’s leaders are coming up with new strategies to advance our winning streak. 

With Courtyard’s Refreshing Lobby, the brand scored big with a variety of fresh and tasty favorites at the new Bistro. We were the first to post calorie counts on our menus and now offer this great option to guests at more than 400 Courtyards nationwide.  The menus offer big crowd pleasers like artichoke dip, buffalo wings, hummus, turkey BLTs and -- my personal favorite -- the Bistro Burger.  

Fans

Hotel lobbies have long been a nice place to congregate.  The open layout of new Courtyard lobbies is now ideal for everything from pop up meetings to a place to watch games, including the Super Bowl.  Guests can relax, refresh, recharge and root for their favorite teams.  Maybe next year my Redskins will get their chance.

How did your team do this season?  And what did you snack on during the game?  Leave a comment.  I’d love to know.

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.