Thomas Jefferson

June 17, 2015

image from http://s3.amazonaws.com/hires.aviary.com/k/mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp/15042915/cb835291-8582-4910-971b-9afeee0c1f87.png

I recently read a book called Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham. To me, this book is a wonderful insight into the life and person of Thomas Jefferson. I’ve always known him to be brilliant and wide-ranging in his interests. I knew he wrote the Declaration of Independence and was our third president. I knew he founded University of Virginia. But in this wonderful book, I learned the effective and quiet way he accumulated power and how he got things done, which if practiced today would help us solve many of the problems that confront us. 

The author writes, “Jefferson immersed himself in the subtle skills of engaging others, chiefly by offering people what they value most – an attentive audience to listen to their own visions and views.”

I’ve learned that most of us, including politicians, often talk too much and listen too little. The author says that can be self-defeating, for in many instances the surer route to winning a friend is not to convince them that you are right, but that you care what they think. Everyone wants to believe that what they say is fascinating and illuminating. The best political figures create the impression that everyone they encounter is one of the choicest people on Earth.

A grandson described Jefferson with the following: “His powers of conversation were great, yet he always turned to subjects most familiar to those with whom he conversed, whether laborer, mechanic or other.”

I think the same to be true in business leadership. I have learned that perhaps the four most important words in business leadership are “what do you think?”  Not only does this show a sincere interest in the other person but I always learn something.

The author, Meacham, tells us that, “Thomas Jefferson endures today because we can see in him all the varied and wonderous possibilities of the human experience. The thirst for knowledge, the capacity to create, the love of family and of friends, the hunger for accomplishment, the applause of the world, the marshalling of power, the bending of others to one’s own vision. His genius lay in his versatility, his larger political legacy in his leadership of thought and of men.”

In the last years of his life, he wrote to a young offspring some sound advice on life, “ how to live a virtuous life : Adore God.  Revere and cherish your parents, love your neighbor as yourself and your country more than yourself.  Be just, be true. If you do this, your life will be the portal to one of eternal bliss.”

He also gave advice on living a practical life when he said:

  1. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
  2. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
  3. When angry count to 10 before you speak, if very angry – count to 100.

Much of this is the advice my dad gave to me as I was growing up. I tried to follow it, but I could've done a lot better!

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

Listen to the blog

 

People of Marriott International

May 31, 2015
Few things are more satisfying to me than the terrific blend of people we have at Marriott. The first great team at Marriott was my dad and mom, and over the years they have been followed by many passionate teams that worked wonderfully across generations, gender, race, ethnicity, and many...

My Early Memorial Day

May 25, 2015
As we completed our annual shareholders meeting and I joined our senior leadership on the 12th floor patio of our JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Washington, 16 flights of WWII war birds flew by. They included P51’s, B24’s, B17’s, a B29, a Catalina Flying Boat and several navy fighters. It...

Finding New Ways to Serve

May 18, 2015
Volunteering at the Atlanta Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity I have always enjoyed giving back whether it’s hammering at Habitat for Humanity or bagging groceries at the Atlanta Food Bank. Ever since the beginning of our company, our associates have been putting people first, and this includes the communities...

Remembering My Mom on Mother's Day

May 8, 2015
Mom & me, 1936 This Mother's Day, I thought I'd share some memories of my mother who passed away 15 years ago at the age of 92. Alice Sheets Marriott was truly an amazing woman. Her father died in 1919 from the flu epidemic following the First World War. Her...

How Culture Lives On

May 3, 2015
I spent some time in March at our Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was a wonderful stay at the historic hotel, which opened in the early 1930’s making it the oldest J.W. Marriott hotel in our system. We bought it in 1967 and our family has been going there...

Selling Underwear to Lumberjacks

April 26, 2015
It’s not quite the same as selling ice cubes to Eskimos, but selling long, woolen black underwear to lumberjacks in the hot summer comes pretty close. I’ve heard this story since I was a little boy. Let me tell you what my dad did to pull it off. My dad...

FAMILY FIRST

April 19, 2015
New Year's Day, brother Dick and our families with our parents Family has always been number one in my life. As a father, I made it a point to be home for dinner every night I was in town. Over my career, I arrived at the office at 8:00 a.m....

The Hubble Travels Brilliantly

April 12, 2015
JW Marriott, Alice Marriott , Bill Marriott, and Debbie Marriott Harrison with John Glenn and his parents at the Key Bridge Marriott (March 1, 1962) Last week I received an invitation from an associate at Marriott’s headquarters to the 25th Anniversary of the Hubble Telescope. I was really interested in...

Where's the Color?

April 5, 2015
There’s a famous 1980s hamburger TV commercial where a little old lady opens the bun of a hamburger only to find a dime-sized paddy and says, “Where’s the beef?” I recently opened the door to our test room and asked, “Where’s the color?” It’s no secret. I like red. Each...

Interviewed by a Millennial (Part 2)

March 29, 2015
Cornell University School of Hotel Administration students My Favorite Things, Career Advice & Online Dating My blog assistant, Ayanna, was so probing with her questions last week that we had plenty of good material left over. (If you missed it, here's Part 1.) As with all good interviewers, Ayanna waited...