Chris Gardner is an American entrepreneur, speaker and philanthropist whose life story inspired the film “The pursuit of happiness” starring Will Smith and nominated for an Oscar.
Chris Gardner is an inspirational keynote speaker and addresses audiences on how to overcome obstacles and break cycles. He is one of the most dynamic and active speakers on questions of success and motivation. Few life stories are as inspirational as his. Gardner started out without even a roof to live under, to become the owner and CEO of Gardner Rich & CO, a stock exchange listed company. His autobiography, ’The Pursuit of Happiness’ (2006), became a New York Times and Washington Post number one best seller.
He is known as a philanthropist committed to many charity organizations and he teaches how to overcome obstacles, break out of negative cycles and overcome the fear of failure.
Chris comes from the hardest of backgrounds, with poverty, domestic violence and sexual abuse being just some of the challenges he has had to overcome. After a spell in the Navy he worked as a medical research associate; when his son Christopher Jr. was born he began to apply for training programs at brokerages despite having no experience. When Christopher’s mother left him Gardner fought to keep his son, determined that he would not grow up without a father as Gardner himself had done.
Despite earning a place on the Dean Witter Reynolds training programme, he became homeless, as he could not afford rent from his training salary. Nonetheless he managed to gain a place at Bear Stearns & Co where he was a top earner, and then founded his own brokerage firm Gardner Rich with just $10,000 of start-up capital. He sold his share in this firm in a multimillion-dollar deal and is currently CEO of Christopher Gardner International Holdings.
Gardner’s experience of homelessness and being a single parent has led him to involvement with many philanthropic organizations, including the National Followed Initiative, the National Education Association Foundation and the International Rescue Committee. He has won many awards for his work, including the NAACP Image Award for the book and movie versions of his autobiography, the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women Humanitarian Award and The Continental Africa Chamber’s Friends of Africa Award.