Lives That Inspire: Chris Gardner, The Man Behind ‘The Pursuit Of Happiness’

A memorable film starring Will Smith is E n Pursuit of Happyness (The Pursuit of Happyness), a story of perseverance, determination and resilience. This film is inspired by the autobiography of the same title by the entrepreneur, lecturer and philanthropist Christopher Paul Gardner , better known as Chris Gardner , who was born in Luisana, United States in 1954.The adversities Chris Gardner has faced throughout his life are unmatched by those featured in the hit movie. For example, the film does not address his harsh childhood. His father abandoned him, his mother and sisters (Chris Garner saw him again only two more times: at age twenty-eight and at his funeral). He grew up in Milwaukee, in the state of Wisconsin, and by chance of fate: he says that the car in which they were traveling to Canada broke down there. He had an abusive stepfather and, because his mother was incarcerated, he was a couple of times in a reception center for minors where he was raped. The situation did not improve with the passage of time . https://www.youtube.com/embed/bTJ-0zVAsEA

Despite joining the US Navy medical corps and collaborating with the University of California (UCLA) Medical Center in the mid-1970s, his dream of studying medicine was frustrated. He even participated in research on high-energy phosphates in the heart muscles during open heart surgery with a renowned cardiologist! Because this project ran out of funding, its financial problems continued . Despite having experience as a laboratory assistant, Chris Gardner found it more lucrative to engage in the sale of medical supplies. The idea was not bad, but these machines were a luxury (the film shows a Will Smith investing everything he had to buy bulky bone densitometry units and resell them). He divorced his first wife and was behind bars for not being able to pay traffic tickets and went bankrupt. As time went by, he realized that he was stuck until, in 1981, he had an encounter with a man who was driving a red Ferrari and, when he learned that he was a stockbroker, he decided to take a job turn in order to be able to move forward together with his son Christopher Jr., who was left in his custody at the age of two.

Chris Gardner decided to take a course to be a stockbroker and was homeless while studying and working. Without giving up, he slept where he could. Remember the scene from the movie where father and son sleep in a public bathroom in the San Francisco Metro? It was real and they did it for a couple of weeks. They also slept in the waiting areas at the Oakland and San Francisco airports. When Chris Gardner apprenticed to the Stock Market, he was making about 200 calls a day! What little money he made he used to pay for Christopher Jr.’s daycare and basic needs.After a year, he passed the exam to be a stockbroker and went to work full time at Bear Steams & Company (an investment bank which was sold to JPMorgan Chase Bank during the 2008 financial crisis). Five years later, Chris Gardner started his department and founded Gardner Rich & Co. His first desk was the same table where he had breakfast, lunch and dinner. How much did you invest? $ 10,000. How much did you sell it for? In 2006, he closed a millionaire deal for his first company. Soon after, he ventures into Christopher Gardner International Holdings, which has offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Chris Gardner was just 34 years old when he made his first million dollars. What was bought? The black Ferrari that had belonged to Michael Jordan.

Today, this multi-million dollar broker also known as the “CEO of Happiness” is engaged in extraordinary philanthropic endeavors such as financing affordable housing for low-income families. It has focused on offering career guidance and job training to vulnerable populations such as those on the streets in Chicago. As a speaker, he visits countless countries and his sphere of influence is wide: he creates hundreds of jobs by investing in emerging markets in countries like South Africa. One of his most memorable phrases is: ” You can only depend on yourself, the cavalry will not come to rescue you .”

The most important lesson life teaches us Chris Gardner is that hard work pays off . Without university studies, he got ahead and never gave up on making his dreams come true. In an interview with Oprah, Chris Gardner stated that his greatest inspiration was his mother: “I chose to embrace the spirit of my mother who, despite seeing too many of her own dreams denied, postponed and destroyed, instilled in me that she could dream . ” He also has an anecdote in which his mother told him one day while they were watching a basketball game: “Son, if you want it that way, one day you could win a million dollars .”

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