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Monumental Courage and Conviction of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (originally posted for MLK memorial dedication Oct. 2011)

Posted:01/13/201210:56 AM

My parents founded our company in 1927, nearly 30 years before the Civil Rights Movement.  It didn’t matter to them who or what you were, you were welcome.  Back then in the South, here in Washington, D.C., this was a courageous move. But they stuck to their beliefs.

Boardroom Photo

Martin Luther King, Jr. stood up for what he believed in.  I'm still amazed at how he was able to change the face of not just our great country, but of the world.  His courage and heroism continue to inspire me. (Dr. King's portrait is in our boardroom with a note from Coretta Scott King.)

Sunday October 16 was the official dedication of a memorial to Dr. King.  I was really proud Marriott associates were among the throngs of people from across the nation and around the world.  His beliefs of protesting using non-violent means for social change are evident today.  

Dr. King’s speeches and sermons combined themes of democracy deeply embedded in the American conscience, and reinvigorated these messages with clear and insightful reflections on the true meaning of justice and equality. 

Although I never met Dr. King, he is such an inspiration that I was honored to serve on the Martin Luther King Executive Leadership Council to help make this memorial a reality. 

I encourage you to visit the memorial to experience more than a monument, but a place dedicated to honoring a great humanitarian.   

I leave you with one of my favorite Dr. King quotes: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”  

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

(Leave a comment on your thoughts of Dr. King.)

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Making the Tough Call

Posted:08/22/2011 3:28 PM

 

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I bought President Bush’s autobiography, Decision Points, a while ago and during some quiet time over the Fourth of July weekend had an opportunity to read it.

Decision Points Cover

It was obvious that President Bush wrote the book himself.  It included many wonderful, personal stories about him, his courtship of Laura, his drinking problem in his early years, and his very strong, loving relationship with this mother and dad.

I was anxious to learn about the background for his decision to invade Iraq, in search of weapons of mass destruction, since none were found after the fall of the country.  

Bush said he relied on the strong recommendation of the NIE, National Intelligence Estimate, that emphatically stated that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions.  If left unchecked, he believed Iraq would have had a nuclear weapon during this decade. 

In the fall of 2002, Congress supported his congressional war resolution.  The Senate passed it 77 to 23, the House 296 to 133.  Later that fall, the UN Security Council passed a similar war resolution unanimously, 15 to nothing.

Reports of Iraq’s WMD continued to pour in from around the world.  When Bush made the decision to invade, he wrote: “Given everything we knew, allowing Saddam to stay in power would have amounted to an enormous gamble.  I would have had to bet that either every major intelligence agency was wrong or that Saddam would have a change of heart.  After seeing the horror of 9/11, that was not a chance I was willing to take.  Military action was my last resort.  But, I believed it was necessary.”

My major learning from reading Decision Points was the great difficulty the President had in gaining consensus from his White House staff and his cabinet on major decisions that confronted him.  

Frequently, his team ended up with conflicting recommendations, leaving the final decision to the President himself. 

As we know, he was willing to make some tough calls – mostly without the full support of his team.  Many decisions were good and he freely admits that some were not.  But he made the call and he stuck to it.  

While many Americans are still critical of the President’s decision, after reading the book, I believe history will be more kind to him for his strong leadership. 

I’d love to hear what you’re reading this summer.  Send me some recommendations.  

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

--------------------------

 P.S. Here's what you've been reading.  It's compiled from your comments. -- Bill 

"Nothing to Fear" by Adam Cohen; "Try Known and Unknown" by Donald Rumsfeld; "The Miracle of Freedom: 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World" by Chris Stewart; "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot; “Lion In the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt” by Aida Donald; "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett; "The Kennedy Legacy" by Edward "Ted" Kennedy; "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand; "1421 - The Year That China Discovered America" by Gavin Menzies; "The Mastery of Love" by Don Miguel Ruiz; "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl; "Cleopatra" by Stacy Schiff; "Goodbye To A River" by John Graves; "The Innocent Man" by John Grisham; "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett; "Abraham Lincoln" by James M. McPherson; "The Ark of Millions of Years" by E.J. Clark and B. Alexander Agnew; "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese; "Enchantment" by Guy Kawasaki; "John Adams" by David McCullough; "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald; "Beyond Basketball" by Mike Krzyzewski.

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Opening America's Arms to Global Travelers

Posted:05/24/2011 5:01 PM

Opening Americas Arms to Global Travelers It’s been a busy few months in the realm of travel and tourism policy, so I wanted the chance to bring you up to speed on what’s going on, and I hope it will lead to measurable change in the way the United States welcomes overseas visitors.  I’ve blogged about this before, and by now, you’re all probably aware of the problems. But, I’m glad to report, some solutions are in the works.

First off, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Roy Blunt held a hearing on visa and entry issues in April entitled, “Tourism in America: Removing Barriers and Promoting Growth.”  They deserve major kudos for heightening Congressional awareness and demanding greater accountability from the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.  The hearing looked at travel issues from a new angle and it focused on the tremendous economic opportunities the travel and tourism industry holds.

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Encouraging the Expansion of the Visa Waiver Program

Posted:04/15/201110:58 AM

Hawaii I’ve blogged before about how beneficial the Visa Waiver Program is to the United States travel and tourism industry.  But, it also helps a lot of other industries in our country, including all the restaurants and retail that rely so much on international travelers.  The Visa Waiver Program allows low-risk countries and travelers to visit the United States without the hassle and the expense of getting a visa -- and it's a great stimulant for our economy.

I was just in Hawaii and was very pleased to learn that this beautiful U.S. destination has benefited greatly from the program.  Many international visitors to Hawaii come from Eastern Asia, and in the past, citizens of several of these countries had to get visas before their trip, which was a real problem.  However, in November of 2008, South Korea was added to the list of countries that no longer require a visa to enter our country, allowing the state department to reallocate those resources in other areas.

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Our Culture Sustains Us Through Challenging Times

Posted:03/04/2011 4:21 PM

North Africa and the Middle East Winston Churchill, one of my heroes, once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep on going.”  It certainly describes the challenge our Marriott associates have faced over the past several weeks, as Egypt, Bahrain, Libya and other countries in the region have experienced a great deal of political turmoil and unrest.  Marriott has quite a large presence in that part of the world with 30 hotels across many brands.  The safety and well being of our guests and associates is always our number one concern.

In Libya, our brand new JW Marriott hotel in Tripoli opened for business just as the disturbances began.  As we reviewed the options, we realized we needed to evacuate the few guests who were in the hotel, as well as our 185 associates who had come to Tripoli in pursuit of new careers with Marriott.  The evacuation was coordinated by our regional crisis team and operations team, headed up by Mark Satterfield. It was a complicated operation with special bus convoys and a charter Airbus 310 airplane.  We all breathed a sigh of relief as they took off  from Tripoli airport and landed safely in Jordan, to return to their home countries and their families.

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You Can't Lead With Your Feet on the Desk

Posted:03/02/201111:33 AM

You Can't Lead With Your Feet On The Desk Ed Fuller, our president and managing director of international lodging, knows first hand that you can’t lead with your feet on the desk. You’ve got to get those boots on the ground, as Ed says, and I agree with him.  Ed has shown that by just returning from Egypt where we have seven hotels.  When the recent civil unrest unfolded, he knew there was no substitute for being there in person to help our hotel owners and associates through this very difficult, challenging time. 

Ed has just written a new book called — what else? — You Can’t Lead With Your Feet on the Desk.  Among the many great management tips he shares are three that I recommend to you:

One: to respect is to inspire.  The hotel business is all about service, which means it’s all about motivating our frontline people. We can see to it that you get a comfortable bed, but if the person at the front desk hasn’t made you feel very, very welcome, the bed won’t feel great. A salary won’t motivate people to deliver service; they need to believe that they will rise through the organization and find new opportunities if they really take care of our customers. The respect we show our people through a policy that “promotes from within” pays dividends in the experience that our guests enjoy.

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Lending a Hand in Haiti

Posted:01/28/2011 3:51 PM

Associates from the Harbor Beach Marriott Help with Relief Efforts in Haiti It’s been a year since a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, killing more than 230,000 people.  Although we don’t have a Marriott property in Haiti, this tragedy affected many of our associates who originally came from Haiti.  Our South Florida hotels alone employ more than 1,000 associates from Haiti, most of whom have immediate family in the area affected by the earthquake.

At our Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa approximately 233 of the associates are Haitian.  The hotel began their relief efforts immediately after the earthquake hit and one of the first things they did was meet with these associates.  They learned that more than 20 percent of their Haitian associates lost family members in the earthquake.  One couple lost 13 family members and another lost 10.  Many others waited to hear news about their loved ones.

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A Warmer Welcome Means More Jobs

Posted:11/18/201012:01 PM

A Warmer Welcome Means More Jobs President Obama has just returned from Asia, where he had an extensive visit promoting U.S. exports.  But here at home we’re doing all we can to increase exports and create more jobs because each time a visitor from abroad buys a hotel room in the United States, that counts as an export.  We need more visitors to the United States from abroad and we can generate a lot more export dollars and more jobs.

I’ve talked about this before, particularly about the decline in overseas travel to the United States.  Since the year 2000, America has lost 440,000 jobs and more than $500 billion in total travel-related spending.  I continue to worry that our government isn’t doing enough to increase visitors to America from abroad.

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Serving New Orleans -- Commemorating the 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Posted:08/27/201011:57 AM
Marriotts Spirit to Serve New Orleans Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and forever changed New Orleans.   It was a tragic event that will be remembered for years to come.   We all know there is still much to do, but New Orleans and its people are resilient and on their way back.

Today and tomorrow we’re honoring the city’s spirit of determination by rolling up our sleeves and getting to work. We call our efforts Spirit To Serve New Orleans. When the storm hit, we supported the city through the Red Cross and raised nearly six million dollars for a disaster relief fund to support Gulf Region and employees who were in need. Our company, its owners, franchisees, and vendors joined my family in contributing, and Marriott employees around the world provided cash and vacation time to help the New Orleans team.
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Saluting Marriott's Heroes in Bangkok

Posted:06/08/201012:10 PM
Bangkok We’re in the hospitality business and nothing gives us more pleasure than welcoming our guests for life’s most memorable moments, an important business negotiation, or simply a good night’s sleep.

Sometimes, situations outside our control create inhospitable conditions, like the tragic events that recently unfolded in Bangkok. That’s when our focus shifts to protecting our guests’ personal well-being and doing our very best to ensure that they have a hotel to come back to.
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I'm Bill Marriott, Chairman & CEO of Marriott International.

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