News & Politics

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.