Bill Marriott: Success Is Never Final

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Bill Marriott Interviews

About the Book

  • Details the story of Bill Marriott's first job in his family's root beer stand to his monumental decisions in building a hotel empire. The Marriott Corporation is the largest global hotel chain in the world, twice as large as the second, Hilton, with double the number of properties.
  • Bill's father, who lived through the Great Depression, had a great fear of risk and debt and opposed many of the daring business decisions Bill made in building the Marriott empire. While his father was a constant roadblock, his mother had a quite different effect. Without her things would not have turned out as well for the Marriott family: "I certainly was not always right, nor was I ever as wrong as my father believed I was. My mother was a great referee, mediating and softening the blows. And my wife was always beside me to pick me up, dust me off, and send me back into the ring again. I could never have been successful without the love and support of these two great women."
  • Bill endured hardship as a young husband and father when a boat explosion, just a week after his father died, caused a fire which severely burned his body and damaged his hands so significantly, it was unclear if he would be able to use his fingers. Part of Bill's management legacy of Marriott includes philanthropic work, educational programs and community outreach, particularly the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities which has placed more than 20,000 young adults with disabilities with productive jobs, nationwide. Several hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic, are among the top 20 recipients as are a variety of colleges with important hospitality programs. As a business leader Bill's life story includes meetings and interactions with other leaders including American presidents, foreign dignitaries, and other business moguls. The biography is filled with newly-told, behind-the-scenes, intimate stories such as "family dinners" with the Eisenhowers and the Marriotts.
  • The tell-all book about Bill Marriott’s family life, his religious life, and the never-before-published stories that made him an international business icon.

About the Author

Dale Van Atta is a New York Times best-selling author and journalist who has been nominated five times for the Pulitzer Prize. He co-authored the world's most widely-syndicated news column with Jack Anderson; their daily column appeared in the Washington Post and nearly 1,000 other newspapers, reaching 50 million readers. He is a former roving Editor for Reader's Digest, and has been published in numerous other national publications and has written several books. Van Atta lives in Ashburn, Va., with his wife of 45 years, Lynne. They have three children.

Bill Marriott's Endorsements

For two generations we have viewed Bill Marriott as one of our most able competitors. Over time, some of the words that have come to mind are frustrating, vexing and even maddening! But standing back, Bill challenged us and that helped make us better. "Success is Never Final" helps me to understand Bill's success as a competitor and as one of the most remarkable businessmen of our times.

-- Tom Pritzker, Executive Chairman, Hyatt Hotels Corp

Bill Marriott is a great friend and his life is one filled with much success. His biography provides a look into the experiences and decisions that led to all his accomplishments. I have always been a great admirer of his leadership abilities and, equally as important, how he demonstrates the love and respect he has for his family.

-- Joe Gibbs, three-time Superbowl-winning coach of the Washington Redskins

In leadership and life, Bill Marriott demonstrates that true success is built not on the backs of others, but hand‑in‑hand beside them. Every chapter of this book demonstrates his courage, humility, faith and values in business and beyond. Following their daughter?s successful heart surgery at Mayo Clinic, Bill and Donna Marriot became life-long benefactors, generously giving back to support Mayo's life-changing legacy. Bill also gave of his time, serving on Mayo's Board of Trustees for more than a decade; and as chair of our first-ever capital fund-raising campaign. Under his leadership, that campaign exceeded its goal to achieve an astonishing $1.35 billion. I'm in awe of all that he has accomplished as a philanthropist, business leader, father and friend, and I know you'll come away from his story inspired to serve others as Bill has.

-- Dr. John Noseworthy, former Mayo Clinic President and CEO

Bill Marriott is one of the most caring and big-hearted people I know. In 2002,Bill graciously agreed to serve as Chair of the Leadership Council for my foundation, the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries. With his boundless energy and heartfelt dedication, Bill helped raise more than $25 million for America's school libraries. The Laura Bush Foundation owes much of its success to Bill's leadership, including his efforts during the 2005 hurricane season to raise money for the Gulf Coast School Library Recovery. I am a witness to his generosity, and I am thrilled that this fascinating biography will share the stories of his purposeful life with readers all over world.

-- Mrs. Laura W. Bush, First Lady of the United States, 2001‑2009

I have admired my longtime friend Bill Marriott as a man of faith in God with conscience and heart, with love of family, friends and humanity who has applied this virtues in "worldwide hospitality." This biography bears my conclusion.

-- Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Holocaust survivor; President, Appeal of Conscience Foundation; Senior Rabbi, Park East Synagogue (New York City)
Dale Van Atta's insightful biography of Bill Marriot tells the story of one of America's most conscientious and innovative business leaders. Bill Marriott -- who told his top management staff,"We must break the glass ceiling, the black ceiling and any other damn ceiling that prevents women and minorities from advancing in our company to the best of their abilities; we must walk the talk and make it happen" -- is a rare corporate leader who has embraced my father's dream and supported his legacy. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone who believes that business leaders can make a meaningful contribution to interracial understanding, goodwill and progress.

-- Martin Luther King III, global human rights activist

This is an outstanding book -- a readable profile of a great business and of a unique CEO. It begins -- literally -- with a bang. And for a biography of a business leader, it's action‑packed. When Bill Marriott became president of his company, Marriott owned and managed two hotels. Today there are 7,000. Do you wonder if a great business -- and a considerable fortune -- can be built in a completely ethical manner? Bill Marriott -- and this book -- will answer your question. Every day of building the company seems to have been hard, with Bill somehow holding on despite constant criticism from his father, J.W. Marriott, the founder of the company. (J.W.'s extraordinarily frank diaries are a remarkable source for Van Atta). I was a fellow Washingtonian and CEO of a much smaller company; Bill was the hardest working CEO I ever saw. As an added bonus, this book does the best job I have seen of illustrating the role of the Mormon Church -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints -- in its members' lives. Anyone who knows many Mormons knows the extraordinary character and virtues of many; I am an Episcopalian. The Church's critics have had plenty of chances to speak. Here's a different view from the inside.

-- Don Graham, former publisher of The Washington Post

Anyone who has stayed at a Marriott Hotel has likely seen the framed portrait -- the portrait of a father and his son, J.W. and Bill Marriott. John Willard Marriott, Sr., appears confident and friendly, as strong as a pioneer and as sturdy as all the American West. Beside him is his son, Bill, Jr., arms folded, smart, competent, resolute and determined. What one cannot see in the portrait, what one cannot know without reading Success is Never Final, is the stress, the strain, the struggle, the drive and dedication that took a family name and made it an iconic American brand, a name recognized and respected in every corner of Earth. Their story, really, is a generational saga of a family, and of teams of dedicated employees, all tightly tethered to the best of values, and who together grew a root beer stand business into the largest hotelier in the world. Their story is an American enterprise classic. It is something of a modern day rendition of the Parable of the Talents. One can imagine J.W. saying to Bill, in some future realm: "Well done, my good and faithful son."

-- Gordon H. Smith, President and CEO, National Association of Broadcasters; former U.S. Senator from Oregon