Because of surmounting acute obstacles on his road to success, Gardner is now an avid motivational speaker, addressing the keys to self-empowerment, beating odds, and breaking cycles. His amazing story was published as an autobiography, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” becoming a New York Times number one bestseller.
Gardner was also the inspiration for the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness,” released by Columbia Pictures in December 2006. Will Smith stars as Gardner, and Gardner is an associate producer. The movie was number one at the box office its opening weekend.
Always hardworking and tenacious, a series of circumstances in the early 1980’s left Gardner homeless in San Francisco and the sole guardian of his toddler son. Unwilling to give up Chris Jr. or his dream of financial independence, Gardner started at the bottom.
Without connections or a college degree, he earned a spot in the Dean Witter Reynolds training program. Often spending his nights in a church shelter or the bathroom at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Oakland, Gardner was the sole trainee offered a job at Dean Witter Reynolds in 1981. He spent 1983-1987 at Bear Stearns & Co., where he became a top earner, and then in 1987, he founded the brokerage firm Gardner Rich & Co. in Chicago. Currently, Gardner is the owner and CEO of Christopher Gardner International Holdings with offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
“We are pleased to provide our NACE attendees the opportunity to hear Chris Gardner’s dynamic and candid rags-to-riches story,” said Ron Pyle, ASA President and Chief Staff Executive. “His message of overcoming obstacles, balancing life’s responsibilities and ultimately succeeding will inspire and motivate everyone in attendance, leaving them excited for the NACE Expo opening.”
His extraordinary story illustrates the nurturing and sustaining power of positive role models. Gardner’s belief in himself and his dreams, along with his refusal to give in to self-doubt, promises to inspire the NACE audience and confirm that life is full of possibility if you put your heart into it and don’t give up.