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What Made Me: J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr.

The hospitality magnate—whose family business started as a root-beer stand in DC—on health, family, and loving what you do.

Photograph by Israel David Groveman.

The piece of advice: My father told me that if I wanted to be successful, I had to work. He told me that every day from the time I was six years old. He had a favorite point he liked to make about trees: The smaller the tree, the harder it had to fight for sun and light, but if it worked hard it got tall and strong.

The early job: When I was at the University of Utah, I worked part-time in our Hot Shoppes in Salt Lake City and fell in love with the restaurant business. I realized I wanted to go into our company, which was small at the time, just a bunch of Hot Shoppes. I learned that if you liked what you did, you’d be excited about going to work.

The turning point: In 1989, I had three heart attacks and then open-heart surgery. Until then I had not exercised or watched my diet. I changed my approach to life. Now I do the treadmill five times a week and Pilates two days a week. But I still eat a steak every now and then.

The book: The Bible and the Book of Mormon set a pattern for my life that has brought me a lot of joy and helped me to have a good family life. If things go right at home, things go right at work.

This article appears in the August 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.

  • Josh

    Good for you! Happy that you are healthy and well done on the business side of things! I'm growing more and more excited about being with the company each day. I only wish all ran the same, but I'm still optimistic and hopeful we will acheive success! God Bless, Bill!

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