12 Rules for Success that Turned a Small Family Business into a Global Brand

Bill Marriott, former CEO of Marriott International, learned business and leadership by observing his father, J. Willard Marriott. The elder Marriott was one of the most successful startup founders in U.S. history. He turned a small family root beer shop into a chain of hotels in the 1950s.

Bill Marriott joined the young company in 1956 and, nine years later in 1964, his father asked him to become president of the company. On the eve of being announced as the new president, at only 32 years old, Bill sat down and wrote down twelve rules for success.

Using the principles, Bill Marriott led the growth of Marriott International to become a $14 billion company, operating 30 brands, 5,700 properties, and more than 200,000 employees around the world.

Bill Marriott’s 12 rules for success, which he crafted in 1964, are still as relevant as ever today.

  1. Challenge your team to do better and do it often.
  2. Take good care of your associates, and they’ll take good care of your customers, and they’ll come back.
  3. Celebrate your peoples’ success, not your own.
  4. Know what you’re good at and keep improving.
  5. Do it and do it now. Err on the side of taking action.
  6. Communicate by listening to your customers, associates and competitors.
  7. See and be seen. Get out of your office, walk the talk, make yourself visible and accessible.
  8. Success is always in the details.
  9. It’s more important to hire people with the right qualities than with specific experience.
  10. Customer needs may vary, but their bias for quality never does.
  11. Always hire people who are smarter than you are.
  12. View every problem as an opportunity to grow.

Read more about Bill Marriott’s leadership style and the incredible growth of Marriott International in Without Reservations: How a Family Root Beer Stand Grew into a Global Hotel Company.

Learn more in my new book, I have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following.

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