If you're familiar with 'The Pursuit of Happyness,' both the novel and the movie, then you're sure to know who Chris Gardner is. A homeless man back in the 80's, he now has an estimated net worth of $60 million. Who would have known that it would ever be possible for something like that to happen to someone who didn't have anything to start with?
To those who don't know Mr. Gardner yet, find out how he was able to conquer his fears and obstacles in life and went on to become one of the most successful millionaires of our time.
A Troubled Past
“You can only depend on yourself. The cavalry ain't coming.” -Bettye Jean, Chris's mother
Chris had an older half-sister from his mother's previous lover, and had two others from Bettye' Jean's marriage to another man. His own father was not present when he was born, and growing up, his drunk, violent step-father would beat him, his mother, and his half-sisters up over the smallest of things.
Bettye Jean had all sorts of trouble with his husband, and was imprisoned twice for welfare fraud and for trying to kill her husband by burning down the house while he was in it. In spite of all that, his mother would encourage him to dream big and make a better life for himself.
Barry Manilow, Chris Gardner & Dave Koz
An Uncle Who Influenced His Life
He didn't have any male role models until he met Henry, his maternal uncle, while in foster care. Unfortunately, Henry died when he drowned in the Mississippi River when Chris was only 9 yrs old, but the man left a lasting impression on his young nephew.
Growing up in the 60's and the 70's, Chris learned how to play the trumpet and was musically influenced by the likes of James Brown, Sly Stone, and Miles Davis. It was also during this time that he became aware of racial issues in his own country and internationally.
After high school, he enlisted in the navy and moved to San Francisco after being discharged, and worked as a medical research associate there. He didn't have a college degree, but the birth of his son in 1981 made him want to earn big to provide a better future for Chris Jr.
Starting His Own Brokerage Firm
He applied for several brokerage training programs and got his chance when the Dean Witter Reynolds training program gave him a spot. However, his small salary as a trainee wasn't enough to make ends meet and he struggled against homelessness until he was able to save enough for rent. He persevered through, got his broker's license, and finally got a job at Bear Stearns & Co.
He worked for Bear Stearns for four years before starting his own brokerage firm from his own home. It only had 1 furniture: An office desk that they would later on use as a table for meals.
But that didn't deter him from working hard and fulfilling his dreams. He was determined to make it big with Gardner Rich & Co.
Chris Gardner now stands among the rich and famous
Fast forward to 2006, he founded the Christopher Gardner International Holdings after entering in a multimillion dollar deal selling his shares in Gardner Rich.
Now, Chris Gardner is known for his philanthropic work, organizing and sponsoring charities for the poor. He is dedicated to helping homeless individuals get back on their feet, serving as an inspiration to thousands of people all over the world.
Determination and Hard Work
Chris Gardner turned his personal tragedies into his own strength, and that's what made him succeed in life. He used to have nothing, and now that he has everything, he is determined to share his blessings and let the whole world know that like him, we can succeed too as long as we keep living the dream.
May you always live your dreams.
Lessons From Chris Gardner