At the start of any new year, there always seems to be a lot of talk about living a better life. People are in pursuit of overall happiness. Lately a lot has been written about this, with books on the bestseller list.
After 83 years, I have some thoughts about how I achieve overall happiness. I have four priorities: My faith, my family, my health and my work. If any of those gets out of whack for any length of time, it can impact my overall happiness…and the happiness of those around me!
For me, my faith has been an important guiding principle in my life. I’ve learned a lot about leadership, empathy and listening through my roles in my church, The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints. When making decisions, I remember that putting people first and treating people with respect is the priority.
It’s a core value of our company. People shouldn’t waste any energy asking themselves if they “fit in” or not. Everybody belongs, as long as they are willing to work hard and serve our guests. It takes a diverse group of people to solve problems creatively and make our company great.
My family brings me joy. As they say, “work to live, not live to work.” It’s easier for me to say this now that I’ve stepped down as CEO. Today, in my role as Executive Chairman, I have just a little more time to “stop and smell the roses.”
I remember what it was like to be CEO and still be a family man. I didn’t always knock it out of the park, but I sure tried. When I was in town, I made it a priority to join my wife and family for dinner at 6:30 p.m. I took the time to listen to what was on their minds, and help my kids with their homework.
To be honest, I didn’t always have this balanced approach. During the height of my career, in the late 1980s, I suffered a few heart attacks and even had open heart surgery. It really scared me and it put things in perspective. The doctor told me that if I didn’t make changes in my life he’d be seeing me again in a few months. That’s when I began a firm commitment to a balanced diet and exercise.
I’m sure glad that I did. Because if I hadn’t, I’d have missed seeing the company I love grow from one to more than 4,200 hotels. I’d have missed celebrating my 60-year anniversary with the love of my life, Donna. I’d have missed meeting my 15 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren, with more on the way (pictured above).
It’s a long-term commitment to live a happy life. I am so proud of our company’s focus on employee wellbeing and happiness through our global TakeCare program. It takes some discipline, and it isn’t always easy. But it yields big dividends.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.