Kuala Lumpur, March 23rd 2017: Standing with an imposing presence of over 6 feet, dressed in a stylish suit, American entrepreneur Chris Gardner is not a homeless salesman you imagine living on the streets of San Francisco with his toddler son.
Amongst the many rags-to-riches stories we know, the life-story of Chris Gardner is considered one of the most famous of all.
To those who are unfamiliar with his story, he slept in the toilets of railway stations, in public parks and under his desk at work when his colleagues had left – all these, while caring for his 14-month old son as a single father with nothing to his name.
You want to watch the movie ‘Pursuit of Happyness’, inspired by Chris Gardner, whose memoir, was made into a film starring Will Smith in 2006. The film, which went on to earn some US$307.1mil at the box-office, highlighted Gardner’s early life in the 1980s, portraying his son as a five-year-old (played by Smith’s own son, Jaden Smith) for dialog sake. “The truth is at that time of our lives, he was still in diapers, and barely 14 months old”, he said.
CEO Summit, Terence Yao with Chris Gardner in his Chicago, Illinois office in 2013
Despite all of this, Chris succeeded as a stockbroker on Wall Street, and then founded his own stock brokerage firm, ‘Gardner Rich & Co.’ based in Chicago. Today, the entrepreneur-turned-motivational speaker travels around the world on a different mission.
Just days ago, Chris Gardner flew into town to share his philosophies and methods to creating a fulfilling, successful life based on positivity, tenancy and discipline at the Global Transformation Forum (GFT) 2017 – a theme that fits perfectly for the man of struggle and reputation.
The team at Summit gets up close and personal with Chris Gardner at GTF 2017
And it goes without saying, we got on the phone with Chris and sat down for a long-overdue catch up at the Global Transformation Forum 2017, where familiar icons include Founder of Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma and Olympic sprinting champion Usain Bolt, just to name a few.
The team discussed on everything from the recent US presidential election, family, parenthood, social responsibility, and work ethics to future plans. Chris also stressed on the fact that we are all masters of our own destiny. He quoted:
“We all understand genetics, you’re going to get your Mother’s eyes, your Father’s nose, and there is nothing you can do about it. But the spirit of whom you are going to become as a man or woman, I believe that you can choose. You can do, or be anything that you want to do or be.”
Clearly, to the proud Grandfather, age is just a number. At 63, Chris Gardner is showing no signs of slowing down. “In fact, we’re just getting started”, he says.