Our friend Christina Nepstad just published this blog.  I wanted to share it with you.  Also check out her new book, The Power Seat. https://christinanepstad.com/

Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.
— Harold S. Geneen

My goal to compete in the Miss California USA pageant was exciting, but without a sponsor it would be next to impossible. I spent months approaching various companies, both big and small, with the hopes that someone would be interested in the opportunity. After many failed attempts, I started to get discouraged.

Feeling defeated, I hid in my bed with a gallon of ice cream (some things never change). As I aimlessly perused television channels, a particular commercial caught my eye. The hotel chain Marriott was running an ad which illuminated their mission of helping to build dreams with their guests. 

I remember stopping mid-bite and thinking, “Hey, I have stayed at the Marriott many times!  What could it hurt to ask?”

The next day, I put a call into Marriott Corporate. I must admit, things didn’t go exactly how I had imagined, but after calling every other day for the next eight weeks, I was informed Bill Marriott would be happy to meet with me.

As an unsophisticated and inexperienced young woman, I thought I knew a lot about, well, everything. However, Bill Marriott was about to share a life lesson I would never forget and hope to always emulate.

With portfolio in hand, I took a dozen deep breaths to hopefully exhale a few nerves. When I strode through the door, as confidently as I could fake, Mr. Marriott was on the phone and motioned me to have a seat. I remember so vividly the kindness of this man. However, he was not at all what I had expected for a “Mr. Marriott.” Meaning, I assumed (never a good idea) he would look and sound more ominous and powerful.

Before I knew it, we were in the throws of conversation. He applauded my persistence, yet questioned the intentions behind why I pursued “The Marriott.” He asked me why he should invest in my cause. He questioned how the money would be used. Then he took a sudden left turn and asked what it was I did for others. He asked if I used my gift of persistence to help anyone other than myself.

I was less than impressive with my answers. Truthfully, his questions were profound and incredibly relevant, I just hadn’t given it much thought before then. He continued, “Christina, I appreciate you for pursuing your dream, however the Marriott can’t give you the funds you need.” Just then he took out his checkbook from his briefcase and started filling it out. While he was writing, he shared this life lesson that forever changed me. “Always remember, if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more you will be more.’’

Bill handed me a personal check, giving me permission to use the Marriott name as my sponsor. But what he really gave me that day was a priceless gift of wisdom. His words are forever ingrained in my mind and heart. Mr. Marriott taught me that leadership is about pointing others to their potential and leaving them better off than when you found them.

There truly is no better satisfaction than influencing someone’s life for the better. I have come to the conclusion that Bill Marriott is one of the most powerful people I’ve ever met, not because of his accomplishments or money, but because of his purpose.

I did become Miss California, but more importantly I learned a lesson that has inspired me to value and invest in the future of others.

The principles and standards we abide to, in all areas of our lives, provide enormous clues as to what kind of leaders we are. I suppose Bill knew this when he was asking me those enlightening questions.

As long as we are willing and pledge to honesty we can all benefit from asking ourselves the tough questions. We just can't afford not to know all we can about our judgement and reasoning when other people are involved. 

Bill's Questions (For Self-Reflection)

Why should anyone invest in your cause?

How will you use your money or other gifts?

What do you do for others?

Do you use your gifts, for example persistence, to help anyone other than yourself?

And finally, do your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more?

For Mr. Marriott

This is The Power Seat Way!