Born in 1954 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Gardner and his siblings lived in a tumultuous home due to a volatile relationship between his mother and stepfather. Enduring constant fear of abuse from his stepfather, the siblings were in and out of foster care throughout Gardner’s childhood.
Upon his discharge from the U.S. Navy, Chris Gardner moved to San Francisco, working in various medical research positions, with the hopes of someday becoming a doctor. With a child on the way and facing ten years’ worth of education, Gardner abandoned his medical pursuit and networked his way into the world of stockbrokerage after a chance encounter with a successful broker.
Persevering through multiple training programs (with the goal of making two hundred sales call per day), Gardner’s son by his estranged partner was dropped on his doorstep. While Gardner earned his broker’s license, father and son were homeless for almost a year, unbeknownst to any of Gardner’s colleagues.
Forming his own brokerage firm in 1987 in Chicago, Illinois, Gardner grew the company into a multi-million dollar company before selling his stake and forming Christopher Gardner International Holdings, with offices in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. He currently remains active in philanthropic pursuits and seeks out investment opportunities the world over. The Pursuit Of Happyness, the 2006 hit film starring Will Smith, is based on Chris Gardner’s life.
“We were homeless, we were not hopeless. There’s a world of difference.”
“Chris Gardener is living proof that you really can overcome any obstacle that life throws at you. He was in a situation that would seem hopeless to many, yet he held onto his hope and not only survived, but thrived.” – Bernardo Moya
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