The Challenge of Work-Life Balance and Why You Should Always Make Time for Cake

December 17, 2019
JWM Jr Donna Debbie Stephen John Marriott ca 1964 500x400
Donna and me with the kids, before David was born, in 1964.

I’ve worked in the hotel business for more than 60 years and I’ve been passionate about it from day one. While many other professionals enjoy a round of golf or a trip to a professional football game every now and then, I honestly would rather visit hotels around the world. I love this business.

That said, I can’t stress enough the importance of work-life balance or at least some sort of time management. I learned this lesson myself, the hard way. Years ago, my son David was asked by his elementary school teacher to draw a picture of his father at work and at play. Without missing a beat, he completed the assignment. One picture depicted me in a suit and tie, sitting at a large desk with a pen in my hand. In the second picture, I’m at home dressed in a sweater, seated at a small desk with a pen in my hand. Wow.

Looking back, I certainly worked long hours and I traveled extensively. The business demanded it. But today, at 87 years old, I can assure you that nothing is more important in life than family.

As I shared in Dale Van Atta’s new biography “Bill Marriott: Success is Never Final,” life has taught me how to prioritize and make time for what really matters. Even if I have hours of paperwork to read at night, I’ve learned it can wait – especially if my wife has baked banana cake. Below is an excerpt from the biography about that life lesson.

From Chapter 9

“Being a father and running a major corporation in his thirties was a serious challenge, and it required sacrifice and scheduling. If he was in town, Bill was always home for breakfast and dinner. Saturdays were the children’s days. He took them to see the ships and the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis or to watch boat races on the Potomac River.”

The chapter continues, “After dinner, Bill would retire to his den to work, but he had an open-door policy for the kids. It was in that den that they received some of their most treasured encouragement and counsel. “He made us feel like we were the most important people in his life,” Debbie said [Bill Marriott’s daughter].

[Debbie] remembered only one fight her parents had. “It was over a piece of banana cake. I was eight. Ten hours a day he’d work, and then bring four or five hours of paperwork home. He was so busy that night he wouldn’t come back to the table for dessert. Mom was upset. She got her bags out; she was going home to her mother.

“Dad started to laugh. I thought it was the end of the world. [Then] he put his arms around her and told her he loved her.”

As we enter the precious holiday season, let’s all take time to pause and cherish our family and friends.

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

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As the widow of a former Marriott InFlite GM I can attest to the work ethic of the Marriott family! Your Dad was often in kitchens 5 am in MIA & made it a point to remember employees names etc. It’s obvious you are walking in his path. Wonderful to know you’re “stopping to smell the roses! And enjoy some banana cake! Best Wishes!

This story have many things which shows the faces of life and many things.

This one is really inspiring for me.

I am impressed I just started working for the Marriott 1st year I really enjoy my job. It is a Residence Inn in Boston. This article is so motivating I can not wait to read the book. Your presence is felt throughout the company.

This story is so precious. I have had the honor of being out at your lovely ranch. My family only stays at Marriotts! In fact, my son traveling down from Wisconsin stayed at one in Memphis just last night. Thank you so much for all that you do! I miss Warrenton and that area every day. New Orleans isn't the same.

Did someone say Banana cake??? Please, you can't do that and not share Mrs. M's recipe for us all to enjoy!! Never forget...life is uncertain, eat dessert first! And add it to the menu at some of the hotels too!