Interviewed by a Millennial (Part 1)

March 22, 2015

IMG_1043This week, I’m doing something different. Ayanna Alleyne, our social media maven at Marriott and my blog assistant, wants to ask me some questions. She’s a bonafide Millennial, 60 years younger than me. I’m sure this will be like no other interview. So, here we go:

Ayanna: Mr. Marriott, I’ve been on the job for almost ten months, so I hope this won’t be a career-ending move. Everyone is always talking about Millennials.  Do you think this group is talked about in the media too much?

Me: Well, Ayanna, it sounds like you’re uncomfortable being called a Millennial, but that’s what you are. Welcome to the real world where the media labels almost everybody. I’m called an octogenarian. I’ll trade names and ages any time, any place. I think marketers have popularized the word Millennial. Everyone is vying for your generation’s attention. You’re not easy to reach, by the way.  Perhaps Millennial is overused, but so is “aging Baby Boomers.” If I were you, I’d take the label “Millennial” as a compliment. When a generation is named, it’s usually because society has anointed them as our future. I’m expecting great things from you, Millennials. 

Ayanna:  Well, I hope we can live up to that expectation. So, tell me, how do you stay current with the new technologies? 

Me: I really don’t. I have an iPhone that I actually use just as telephone, and I have Phyllis, who has been with me for almost 30 years.  She saves my life every day.

Ayanna: What influence do your grandchildren have on your knowledge of new trends?

Me: My grandchildren try their best to fill me in. So do our younger associates like you. I ask a lot of questions and try to learn a few new tricks. My grandchildren are a tremendous resource for pop culture.

Ayanna:  Switching gears a little bit.  What is one regret that you’ve made on your journey to Executive Chairman?

Me: I was a workaholic for almost 60 years and it almost cost me my life. I had a heart attack and then another scare before I slowed down and realized what is truly important in life – my Father in Heaven and my family.

Ayanna: You spent a lifetime with the company, how do you manage work/life balance? Do you expect this from your associates?

Me: I may not be the best to ask about work/life balance. My balance is much better since I stepped down as CEO at the age of 80. I love my work and it’s still an adjustment not being invited to meetings. Every day I’m in town, I come to the office.  It energizes me, but family is always first! I’m still working on that balance, but I’m doing better.

Ayanna: What do you think needs to be done to ensure greater diversity in the work place?

Me: We have to actively attract diverse talent right out of college and our recruiters are doing just that. But diversity is about individuals with diverse backgrounds. It’s about respect for the individual and their contribution is a key. It’s not about labeling groups. It shouldn’t be a box you check off as a company, but part of a mindset that everyone has something valuable to contribute.  I’m proud that Marriott is one of the top companies listed by Diversity, Inc.  When a company is viewed as open and inviting, the word gets out that everyone is welcome.

Ayanna: I think you’re right on with that one. How do you as a leader stay connected?

Me: This blog is one way I stay connected.  I also use an incredible communication device called the telephone.  Have you heard of it? I find it much easier to talk than text. You can listen to tone of voice and hear laughter or crying, or hear nothing at all. I make a lot of calls. It doesn’t hurt to have family members working throughout the company as well. I get plenty of input from them during family gatherings and dinners.  We sit around the dinner table and talk business, just like my parents did with me and my brothers many, many years ago.


Stay tuned for part 2 of this interview next week when Ayanna asks me about my thoughts on online dating, my favorite music, and much more! 

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

Listen to the blog here


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Very interesting article.

I am a fan of the Marriott blog because it showcases different locations around the world, as well as lets readers hear from the staff at different hotels and hear stories that are touching, inspirational, or simply interesting. This entry has to be my favorite, however. As a Millennial myself, I respect Mr. Marriott for using this open conversation as a way to bridge the gap between generations and connect with a new younger audiences. The concept of an open conversation is more appealing than a simple gimmick to advertise to young people as well, because it establishes us as someone worth communicating with directly as opposed to simply a target demographic hoping to rope in.

"and realized what is truly important in life – my Father in Heaven and my family" ... love it!

Dear Mr. Marriott

Thank you once again for such a great message, this interview was great and I cant wait for part 2.... You just made my night, and as every time I read whay you say, you give me the strenght and courage to keep fighting for the things we care the most in our company and in our personal lifes, the people we have next to us is a treasure we have to keep forever with us.

Thank you Mr Marriott for another wonderful message. I'm excited to see part 2.

That's was a great interview!!! It is great work for great company like marriott....

Very nice...looking forward to reading part 2

I really like this blog, Mr. Marriott is so personable!!!!!

Looking forward to Part 2! Thank you Mr. Marriott for all that you do!

Mr Marriott thanks for sharing,
Letting us know what is the truly important in life-
Our Father in Heaven and our family.
at 60yrs I can surly say Amen.

I absolutely Love This!!! I can't wait until Part 2. You never cease to amaze me! Keep them coming!!!

looking forward to part 2

This is such a great read! After 15 years with Marriott, starting at the age of 19, I am still so very proud to work for this company. Thank you, Mr. Marriott, for being the kind of leader all of us can look up to and respect. Your humor, generosity, and incredible business mind makes all of us, no matter our age, want to do our best every day.

Very entertaining interview! Really enjoyed reading the candid exchange. Looking forward to Part 2.

I enjoy reading your blog! I would love to see interviews by members of other generations to see whether their questions result in other interesting insights about you and all aspects of Marriott the organization.

Good Morning, Mr. Marriott!

Oh my goodness, that was great! You had me chortling here at my desk! I appreciate especially your answer regarding not seeming to like the label, 'millenial.' That was thoughtful and precise. I'm a proud generation X, by the way and I believe it's always important to figure out how to relate to others. As far as I'm concerned, the key factor of life: recognizing that life really is a seamless connection of relationships. Before I joined the Marriott family, I worked at Apple for over five years. Surprising and delighting my customers-of any age-as I taught them how to enjoy their new iPhones in new and different ways was always a special joy for me. When you can share in the learning experience of someone, it bonds you and melts away those petty differences that distance us in a very unique and extraordinary way. That said, if you want me to teach you how to "think differently" about your iPhone, it would be my absolute honor! All the best!

Yours Sincerely,

Patricia Harris

LOL.....I love this interview and can't wait for part 2. So lite hearted, honest and fun to read.
Thank you Mr. Marriott and Ayanna for sharing

Thanks for the shout out!

Very nice! Looking forward to your next round of questions, Ayanna :-).

I am starting orientation tomorrow as a new hire and I am so excited to be a part of this wonderful company. This blog is very entertaining. I look forward to part two. I will be a new manager for the golf side at the JW Hill Country Marriott in San Antonio, TX. It means so much to be starting with a company with such integrity, and the family values that got it started are still alive and thriving today. Thanks Bill and Ayanna!