Thoughts on My Birthday

March 28, 2019
JWM Jr and Debbie laughing by birthday cake March2018_500x400
Celebrating my 86th birthday with my daughter, Debbie Harrison.

I turned 87 years old this week and I have to say, I feel great.

I spent the day, as I always do, with my family at Camelback Inn in Arizona. We’ve been going there for more than 50 years. I have 21 great-grandchildren now, ranging in age from 2 weeks to 12 years old. Eighteen of them were able to attend. We were all dancing and singing and having fun. It was a real thrill to be part of it. Family is really what life is about.

Of course, as I reach this milestone, I can’t help but look back at my 60-plus-year career. I am truly grateful for the success of Marriott International. There are more than 700,000 people around the world who wear a Marriott name badge today and if you think about it, we’ve hired millions of people in our 92-year history, providing opportunities for advancement for them and their families. That’s a real source of pleasure for me.

People ask me all the time what leadership advice I have for the next generation. I would say surround yourself with good people. Do the best that you can. And don’t study things to death. Move ahead and make a decision. Don’t take months and years to develop a perfect solution.

I’d also argue that while technology has become a huge part of all of our lives, nothing beats a clean, fresh room. Take care of the basics. It all comes down to taking care of the customer. I continue to run into guests who have frequented the same hotel for 10 or 20 years all because of the people who work there. My parents, J.W. and Alice Marriott, started our people-first culture when they first opened their doors as a root beer stand back in 1927. My dad would tell me almost daily: Take care of our employees and they will take care of our guests and our guests will keep coming back. Nine decades later, that is still our philosophy.

So, what is the secret to longevity? Don’t ask me. I try to walk on the treadmill five days a week. But I eat all the wrong things – too much beef and too many desserts.

I can’t help it. I grew up in the Hot Shoppes, my family’s restaurant business. I ate cheese burgers and drank chocolate shakes practically every day.

It’s hard to give that up. 

But as I’ve often said, success is never final.

I'm Bill Marriott and thank you for helping me keep Marriott on the Move.

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