It could be argued that Bill Marriott, ex-CEO and executive chairman of Marriott International, learned his rules for success from one of the most successful startup founders in U.S. history — his father, J. Willard Marriott, who pivoted and turned his root beer shop into a hotel chain in the 1950s.

Today, Marriott International manages more than 20 brands and 3,900 properties in 72 countries. It also employs more than 325,000 people around the world.

Bill Marriott joined the Marriott corporation in 1956, became president in November 1964, and CEO in 1972.

Today he serves as chairman of the board and writes about his management style and company events on his blog Marriott on the Move.

This week he talked about his 12 rules for success, which he crafted in 1964 but 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.

In an earlier blog post, Marriott also talks about the phrase that he sees as key to leadership: “What do you think?”

The whole point of that is, those words “What do you think?” are really a key to good leadership. They give you an opportunity to express your opinion, they show that your boss is interested in you, interested in your opinion and that he or she is willing to pursue what you are thinking about.

Marriott learned the phrase from President Dwight Eisenhower in 1954 when the President asked him whether he preferred to shoot birds or stand by the fire.

Photo Credit: Bill Marriott smiles at a dinner party. Mark Rebilas / Flickr