Go. Be. Happy.

February 18, 2016


JWM, Jr. 2015 Christmas Card ©Gale Frank-Adise, All rights reserved
My wife Donna and me with our grandchildren and great grandchildren. ©Gale Frank-Adise, All rights reserved

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.”

Bill Marriott Pilates
Doing one of my favorite exercises, Pilates.

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 wa
s 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.


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As always. Everyday we learn somthing new under your fabulous strong faith leadership.. Global Marriott associates loves you Mr. Marriott. Brilliantly Marriott . take care of your associates they will take care of our guests and guest will come back.

Thanks for sharing Bill! You definitely have a good testimony with proven experience as to what true happiness is and how to be successful and enjoy life!

Those are truly great priorities to have! :)

Nice words to live by. Thank you for sharing. We all really need to find what is important to us and focus on that to make us happy with our lives.

Always a pleasure to read your words of wisdom Mr. Marriott. Easier said than done as you highlighted - but a very important decision that needs to be made by every individual in today's world! Balancing the act of work and life to make the best of the present while planning for the future.
Hopefully we get there - learning from the experiences that life has to offer and gain from those experiences that are shared by mentors/leaders like yourself.

Mr. Marriott,

Thank you for being such a bold leader to express your faith and values. In today's world of political correctness there are many who will criticize these great values that set you apart from others. Your comments hit home for me, and you definitely motivate me to be a better man and extremely proud to be a part of this great company.

Keep up the great work. Please do not hesitate to contact me if there is ever anything I can ever do for you.


James Paschal

Thank you for always being so willing to share a personal glimpse of your life, Mr. Marriott. I have worked for your company for many years, and this feeling of 'one big family' at work, is what keeps me coming back with pride!

What a beautiful family photo. You are a role model for your employees as we endeavor to balance our own work/personal lives. Thank you for creating such a wonderful company - I truly love working here!

Thank you Mr. Marriott for sharing. I celebrate you for finding the balance and having time to truly enjoy it. I amd trying more each day to do this. Cheers.

I am proud to be part of your Marriott Family

In a world where many do not have the simplicity, joy, and solidity of family values, the genuineness and caring of its brightest beacons, and the quiet thoughtfulness of real leadership, I feel uniquely blessed to have realized this in my family, and to know it in my daily working life in the people I work with every day. However imperfect, and in the midst of much that is surface - without the fulcrum and foundation that is the rock of all things that last, including reputation, consideration, and a real sense of relaxed working comaraderie - I realize how rare it is to have these quite wonderful, everyday examples. I remembered musing one day, having read one of Mr. Marriott's blogs, about crowding around my grandfather's television on Sunday afternoon visits, to see Mutual of Omaha's "Wild Kingdom". It was Grandpa-approved for all of the family, as far as what channel was to be on, when family visited, and it always amazed me how much we all actually enjoyed watching it. It moved with great humour, quite effortlessly, into The Apple Dumpling Gang, Disney, Carol Burnette, and other "Grandpa-approved" family viewing. Most often its prime bonding ingredient was gentle, and innocent, laughter. Thinking back, I realize how the "green culture" of today would have made the "Green Giant" - my Grandfather - smile. I hope perhaps he still is smiling somewhere, now that his "little Niblets" (me, affectionately dubbed so by both my beloved Father and my Dear Granddad)- after proudly writing my alphabet in black marker on my newly renovated bedroom sheets, walls, and floor - has written it down for posterity, among giants. Some cleanup projects stay with you for life.....grin. All I can say is.....thank you.

What a wonderful message! I particularly like your guidance "work to live." Thanks for continuing to blog!

Nice words Bill.