Relax: A Guidepost to Health

February 25, 2013

A few months ago, I blogged about a letter my dad wrote me when I became president in 1964.  I was only 31 at the time.  Included with the letter was his list of guideposts to being a good manager and leader.  The letter meant a lot to me, and I reviewed it throughout the years.  I guess it struck a chord with many of you because I received a number of comments asking for more guideposts.

JWM-Wunda Chair
In the Pilates studio with the "Wunda Chair"

After reading an article in The New York Times headlined: “Relax! You’ll Be More Productive,” I was reminded of the first guidepost on my father’s list -- “Keep physically fit, mentally and spiritually strong.”

My father recognized the importance of “down time” long before our frenetic work lives took a turn for the worse with 24/7 Internet and email.  Dad intuitively knew that relaxing and getting away from the office leads to better performance.  However, as The New York Times article points out, this philosophy is “at odds with the prevailing work ethic in most companies, where downtime is typically viewed as time wasted.”

In a study by Right Management, more than one-third of employees eat lunch at their desks on a regular basis.  More than 50 percent assume they’ll work during their vacations – that is if they even take a vacation.

That was me for a long time – a real work-a-holic.  Two heart attacks in the 80's and bypass surgery was my wake-up call. I needed to take better care of myself. Now, I take Pilates classes and workout on a treadmill.  I’m in fairly good shape for an “old goat” as my younger brother, Dick, calls me.  (Sibling rivalry and grandchildren play a big part in pushing me to maintain my fitness.)

TakeCare Poster
Programs like our TakeCare Wellness Challenges help Marriott associates maintain their health and fitness

 At Marriott, we’ve taken some big steps in the area of fitness.  There's a company-wide health and wellness program called “TakeCare.” It includes sleep seminars with tips from sleep experts;  yoga and meditation classes in our fitness center; midday group walks, and other programs to help people get away from their desks and maintain their strong health and fitness. 

Like a top athlete looking to boost performance, we all need recovery time to perform at our best. As the New York Times says, “It will boost productivity, job performance and, of course, your health.”

So, pace yourself and don’t be afraid to turn it off, unplug.  Get some exercise and fresh air.  And quit eating lunch at your desk.  My dad would approve.

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

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Mr. Marriott:
First, thank you for be a motivation for us survivors of CABG surgery, it is a great story to share, and help us to really step on it and diet and exercise to keep us going.
I knew about this watching CNBC, the "Marriott way", my intention was to motivate my daughter, who will attend BYUI this fall, on her decision to pursue her business degree on marketing, but what a pleasant surprise to listen to your life achievements after surgery.
Thank you again Mr. Marriott!
Edmundo Gerardo
Tijuana , México

I want to appreciate hospitality industry that they offering these kinds of services to their customer. For everyone fitness and yoga is becoming necessity in current era and I want to appreciate this company that they are concentrating on health and fitness programming.

Mr. Marriott, you look fit and happy. Thank you, sir, for visiting Gaylord Palms Resort in Florida and meeting Gaylord STARs recently. I am a personal trainer and fitness instructor for Gaylord’s guests and STARs. As a certified Yoga (RYT 500) and Pilate teacher, I agree with you that it is important to have a “down time” or “quiet time” at work. It will rejuvenate, reenergize, and refresh our body and mind. Fit and happy associates, I believe, will likely to be more awake and productive at work, helping the company (Marriott International) to stay healthy and strong. It would be nice if the company develops a special routine of exercise for the “down time” to release stress as part of “Marriott Wellness Program.” I would be very happy to help with the process of creating the routine. My specialty of teaching is “mind and body movements” for stress relief/management through the integration of Yoga , Pilates, or Qi Gong exercises. I have been in the fitness field for more than two decades. My email address is Healthy Regards from the Sunshine state, Lenny Barrett.

Hello, Mr. Marriott,

It seemed fitting that I read this article while poolside on a mini-vacation at the JW Marriott Desert Springs. It was the perfect way to relax, re-group, and re-energize for the week ahead!

Thank you, as always, for the guidance and inspiration.

Best regards,
Noelle Boesenberg
Sales Specialist, Western Mountain Pacific

Hello Mr.Marriott,
My name is Joanna Geng and I'm a F1 trainee at the front desk. I always feel the tention on my mind and when I'm taking my job seriously, I'm easy to get nervous at little unexpected situations. I realize that I need to learn how to relax and develpope a relaxing yet still concentrating mind at work. I feel so supportive after reading your blog. Thank you!
Now I can't wait for my vacation coming in two weeks :)

Best Regards,
Joanna Geng

nice blog it, makes one look up form life's daily grind and look around and i found that even just looking around and noticing what a beautiful world this is, brings smile to your face and refreshes you. now the next step is to get up and spend some time with this beautiful world around and time has to be made. so thanks for making me think about it and wanting to be fit enough to enjoy it too.
p.s. i love healthy sibling rivalry , its a lovely to have other 'goats and sheep' around to play with. ;)

Mr. Marriott looks fit and happy. As a certified Yoga (RYT 500) and Pilate teacher, I believe that it is important to have a “down time” or “quiet time” at work. It will rejuvenate, reenergize, and refresh our body and mind. Fit and happy associates will be more awake and productive at work, helping the company (Marriott International) to stay healthy and strong. I would like to ask the company to establish a special exercise to release stress for “Marriott Wellness Program” for all associates. I would be very happy to help with the process of creating that exercise. Currently, I am working as a personal trainer and fitness instructor at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Florida. My specialty of teaching is mind and body movements for stress relief/management through Yoga , Pilates, or Qi Gong exercise. I have been in the fitness field for more than two decades. I think we will need supports from the corporate office to bring this “health awareness” to us all. Thank You for visiting us recently. My email address is Healthy Regards, Lenny from the Sunshine state.

This post is really inspiring. Ironically, I'm commenting on it after 6 long hours of studying in the library on a Saturday. Sometimes people (like me) really forget the important things. It's time to step back and take a deep breath and realize the truly significant things in life. Maybe I should take my own advice!

Sarah Kerin
Tulane University

Mr. Marriott, thanks for all you and your dad have done, and continue to do, with the health and wellness aspect for associates. Slowly but surely, I think alot of folks are going to realize how important this will be for them. As it is for you, it is a way of life for me as well. :)

Dear Bill,

Very well said. Furthermore, cumulative impact of such life style also results in a gross neglect of our loved ones and sometimes the damage irreversible.

Nish Kharod
Fine Hospitality Group

Thanks for a GREAT post about boundaries - as the FOM here at the Renaissance Denver, I find it vital to my success as both a manager and leader to be spiritually, physically and emotionally sound in the workplace. So much of that "fit-ness" comes from personal boundaries!

My only question is how can we get TakeCare started at my property?!

Dear Mr.Bill Marriott,

Greetings from JW Marriott Jakarta,

My name is Vishal and I'm the asst. training manager. This is my 1st year in the company, and its my first job too..

Its always been nice to read your blog and watch your video in Youtube. Highly inspiring and surely works better than any cup of coffee I have ever had. I shall continue to read blog in the coming times.

Also would it be too big of a favour to ask when shall I welcome you to JW Marriott Jakarta? as Arne have been here on one of his visit.


Mr Marriott, your Dad was so on point. We all should follow this. The company would be in a better place.

Awesome! Thank you for sharing your perspective on how to manage daily stress more effectively.

Fine words and pictures the most fantastic addition to the beautiful touches that always

Relaxing is the best way to give time to your self and to your family,so keep doing relaxing and do exercise regularly.

I work for Marriott in Panama, CALA and I am very proud to have a leader like you, Bill Marriott. You are my inspiration to success!

Live life to discover, yes it is a truth when we discover ourself.

Mr. Marriott, I just finished your delightful book, Without Reservations, and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. The Marriott story is not only fascinating, but also truly inspiring. I recommended the book to all my friends on leebrii, feel free to check out my review if you are interested:

Bill, I'm not so sure my comments are related to today's blog but I just had to share this Marriott story with you. My colleague, a former Marriott associate, has frequently told me about Marriott's commitment to the "Spirit to Serve," so I had to share this story with you. My colleague and I are staying at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront. We arrived back at the hotel after literally sitting outside in 40-degree temps with a client for two hours. I have to admit I'm a weather wimp (I'm from DC) and by the time the meeting was over, my feet were numb, my nose was red and running and my hands were like ice. We take a taxi back to the hotel yearning for something hot, like a good bowl of clam chowder. We walk into the hotel restaurant, Hook and Plow, and were greeted by Danny Jackson, who gave us our pick of any available table in the restaurant. We chose a warm one by the kitchen.
We told him about our outdoor meeting and how cold we were. Within minutes, he brought over a warm blanket for me. A few moments later he brought my colleague and I two cups of hot water to warm our hands. He suggested a delightful Pinot Noir to warm our tummies, which we thoroughly enjoyed with our delicious clam chowder. I now experienced first hand the "Spirit of Service" my colleague had told me about for so long. But that wasn't all. As we were leaving, my colleague mentioned that he needed some starch to iron his shirt. Danny cheerfully replied, "Let me see what I can do for you." Soon thereafter my colleague received a call from Danny saying they didn't have any starch but one of his colleagues was going to the store to get a bottle and he'd deliver it to his room within 30 minutes. Wow, I've never gotten that kind of service at any other hotel. Just felt you should know that one of your associates was doing a great job to make the customer happy! Thank you for the grand experience. Thank you, Danny!

Mr. Marriott your father gave you good advice and more important you believed in it and followed it. One of reason I insist on a full service Marriott is the health facility. I think it is important to try to keep fit even when I am traveling. Los Angeles Airport Marriott used have an exercise room with a couple of treadmills often only one worked until Javier, now running LA Live (J W Marriott and Ritz Carlton) took over as the General Manager who put in one of the best health facility an excellent fit for a substantive property. I am on the treadmill and swim when the facility is there and get up earlier and not come with excuses. As you and I both know if you get in the habit to use the facility it is easier. Syed T. A. Naqvi, Platinum Emeritus.