Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Chris Gardner  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: February 8, 1954 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin


-- Website -- http://www.chrisgardnermedia.com
-- Chris Gardner on WorldCat -- http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=chris+gardner


Illinois Connection

Gardner has lived in Chicago and currently resides between Chicago and New York City.

Biographical and Professional Information

Gardner is the owner and CEO of Gardner Rich LLC, with offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Conquering grave challenges to become a successful entrepreneur, Gardner is an avid motivational and aspirational speaker, addressing the keys to overcoming obstacles and breaking negative cycles. He is also a passionate philanthropist whose work has been recognized by many esteemed organizations.The amazing story of Gardner’s life was published as an autobiography, ''The Pursuit of Happyness'' and became a New York Times and Washington Post no. 1 bestseller. In paperback, the book spent over 20 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and it has been translated into 14 languages. Gardner was also the inspiration for the movie ''The Pursuit of Happyness'', released by Columbia Pictures in December 2006 and the no. 2 all-time domestic-grossing drama. Will Smith starred in the role of Gardner and received Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild nominations for his performance. Gardner was an associate producer on the film.Gardner’s childhood was marked by poverty, domestic violence, alcoholism, sexual abuse, and family illiteracy. Gardner published his autobiography out of a desire to shed light on these universal issues and show they do not have to define you. Gardner never knew his father, and he lived with his beloved mother, Bettye Jean Triplett, when not in foster homes. Gardner is indebted to Bettye Jean for his success, as she provided him with strong “spiritual genetics” and taught him that in spite of where he came from, he could chart another path and attain whatever goals he set for himself. Gardner joined the Navy out of high school and then moved to San Francisco, where he worked as a medical research associate and for a scientific medical supply distributor. In 1981, as a new father to son Christopher Gardner Jr., he was determined to find a career that would be both lucrative and fulfilling. Fascinated by finance, but without connections, an MBA, or even a college degree, Gardner applied for training programs at brokerages, willing to live on next to nothing while he learned a new trade. Chris Jr.'s mother left, and Gardner, despite his circumstances, fought to keep his son, because, as he says, "I made up my mind as a young kid that when I had children they were going to know who their father is, and that he isn’t going anywhere."Gardner earned a spot in the Dean Witter Reynolds training program but became homeless when he could not make ends meet on his meager trainee salary. Today, Gardner is involved with homelessness initiatives assisting families to stay intact, and assisting homeless men and women who are employed but still cannot get by. It is estimated that 12 percent of the homeless population in the United States is employed; in some communities that estimate is as high as 30 percent.From 1983 to 1987, Gardner worked at Bear Stearns, where he became a top earner. In 1987 he founded the brokerage firm Gardner Rich from his home in Chicago with just $10,000. Gardner Rich LLC is an institutional brokerage firm, specializing in the execution of debt, equity, and derivative products transactions for some of the nations largest institutions, public pension plans, and unions.Dedicated to improving the well-being of children through positive paternal involvement, Gardner is a board member of the National Fatherhood Initiative, and received the group’s ''Father of the Year Award'' in 2002. He serves on the board of the National Education Foundation and sponsors two annual awards: the National Education Association’s National Educational Support Personnel Award and the American Federation of Teachers’ Paraprofessionals and School-Related Personnel Award. He also serves on the board of the International Rescue Committee, which works to provide access to safety, sanctuary, and sustainable change for millions of people whose lives have been shattered by violence and oppression. Gardner is still very committed to Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, where he and his son received assistance in the early 1980s. He has helped fund a project that creates low-income housing and opportunities for employment in the notoriously poor Tenderloin area of the city.Gardner has also been honored by the NAACP Image Awards with awards for both the book and movie versions of The Pursuit of Happyness; the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women’s 2006 Humanitarian Award; The Continental Africa Chamber of Commerce’s 2006 Friends of Africa Award; The Glaucoma Foundation’s Kitty Carlisle Hart Lifetime Achievement Award; The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA); and Covenant House, Common Ground, and other organizations committed to combating violence against women, homelessness, and financial illiteracy—issues of the utmost importance to Gardner.Gardner’s aim, through his speaking engagements and media projects, is to help others achieve their full potential. His practical guidance and inspirational story have made him a frequent guest on CNN, CNBC and the Fox News Channel. He has been featured on CBS Evening News, 20/20, Oprah, the Today show, The View, and Entertainment Tonight, as well as in People, USA Today, the Associated Press, The New York Times, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Jet, Reader’s Digest, Trader Monthly, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Post, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, among others.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
ISBN: 006153711X

Amistad. 2009

“Gardner is encouraging us all to start where we are and dare to make our lives bigger and stronger, more satisfactory, and better. Chris Gardner is a knockout!”

—Maya Angelou

Chris Gardner’s astonishing memoir—the phenomenal New York Times bestseller, The Pursuit of Happyness, which inspired the film of the same name starring Will Smith—served as a shining beacon of hope for countless people. In Start Where You Are, “a book that teaches you how to transform the impossible into the possible” (Sidney Poitier), Gardner offers indispensible life lessons in getting from where you are to where you want to be.

The Pursuit of Happyness
ISBN: 0060744871

Amistad. 2006

The astounding yet true rags-to-riches saga of a homeless father who raised and cared for his son on the mean streets of San Francisco and went on to become a crown prince of Wall Street

At the age of twenty, Milwaukee native Chris Gardner, just out of the Navy, arrived in San Francisco to pursue a promising career in medicine. Considered a prodigy in scientific research, he surprised everyone and himself by setting his sights on the competitive world of high finance. Yet no sooner had he landed an entry-level position at a prestigious firm than Gardner found himself caught in a web of incredibly challenging circumstances that left him as part of the city's working homeless and with a toddler son. Motivated by the promise he made to himself as a fatherless child to never abandon his own children, the two spent almost a year moving among shelters, "HO-tels," soup lines, and even sleeping in the public restroom of a subway station.

Never giving in to despair, Gardner made an astonishing transformation from being part of the city's invisible poor to being a powerful player in its financial district.

More than a memoir of Gardner's financial success, this is the story of a man who breaks his own family's cycle of men abandoning their children. Mythic, triumphant, and unstintingly honest, The Pursuit of Happyness conjures heroes like Horatio Alger and Antwone Fisher, and appeals to the very essence of the American Dream.


Availability for Public Speaking

Speaking Engagement Availability: (Yes)