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A personal testimony to insightful leadership

When you travel as much as I have in my career as a Totally Blind Keynote Inspirational Speaker, the journey has a way of blending into one continuous flow with no beginning, no end and no meaningful distinction. Yes, the events you travel to, and appear at, are often significant and meaningful, but the experience of getting to and from each is generally not so memorable. (There have been a few exceptions and I thoroughly enjoyed telling those stories in my book.)

One of those happened to me a few years ago and it was very different. I experienced one of those milestones that put my entire life of travelling in perspective and made me stop and reflect. It surprised the heck out of me too.

I was checking into the Marriott Hotel in Kansas City, in my usual routine fashion, when the desk clerk said, "Welcome to Kansas City Mr. MacFarlane, and might I say, Congratulations!"

Congratulations??? For what? I had to ask. I was totally shocked by what she proceeded to tell me.

She started by correcting herself, saying, "I'm sorry, perhaps I should have said Happy Anniversary." It turns out that March 9th, 2014 was the 25th Anniversary of the day I joined the Marriott Rewards Program. That was a shock, but when she also told me that I had earned in excess of 5,000,000 rewards points in that time, I was speechless, for one of the very few times in my life.

As I settled into my room, in my usual routine, asking the bellhop to show me the remote for the TV, the air conditioning and heating controls and helping me separate all those little bottles in the bathroom, (there is nothing worse than putting hand lotion in your hair when you're in a hurry to get ready in the morning) I starting thinking about how many times I must have done this.

I realized that the truth is I must have spent close to one third of my business life as a guest of a Marriott branded hotel. At that time, in 2014, I had travelled close to 4,000,000 air miles during my career and I have stayed with Marriott at practically every stop along the way. The expression "time flies" never hit home more than it did with me in that moment. As of this writing, in 2019, I have earned more than 9,000,000 reward points and spent more than 3,000 nights as a guest in a Marriott branded hotel.

I was actually marveling at those stats, realizing what tremendous growth Marriott has experienced during that time and what a magnificent success story the company represents. I can personally testify to the wonderful level of service, patience, hospitality and attention to detail they have shown me over the years, not to mention the impressive consistency they have demonstrated, regardless of which of their brands I've stayed at. Their people are exceptional and the culture they have cultivated never fails to impress. Marriott is a truly wonderful example of how to build a successful company, not just in the hospitality industry, but any industry.

I would like to express my gratitude and thanks to all the employees at Marriott who have made my life a little easier through their magnificent warmth and kindness, and a special thank you to their President and Chief Executive Officer, who generously provided this quote for the back cover of Craig MacFarlane Hasn’t Heard of You Either.

"Craig MacFarlane's life's story is an extraordinary example of integrity, discipline, passion and an unrelenting commitment to excellence. Craig's message is a powerful one that inspires me and, no doubt, everyone who has the privilege to hear him.  We are honored to be able to provide Craig a home as he spreads his inspirational message around the world."

Arne Sorenson

President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International

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