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Christopher Gardner &
“The Pursuit of Happyness”


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The “Pursuit of Happyness” movie trailer (2006)

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The Pursuit of Happyness is a 2006 American biographical drama film based on Chris Gardner’s nearly one-year struggle with homelessness. Directed by Gabriele Muccino, the film features Will Smith as Gardner, an on-and-off-homeless salesman. Smith’s son Jaden Smith co-stars, making his film debut as Gardner’s son, Christopher Jr. and Thandie Newton stars as his wife.

The screenplay by Steven Conrad is based on the best-selling memoir written by Gardner with Quincy Troupe. The film was released on December 15, 2006, by Columbia Pictures. For his performance, Smith was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Actor.

The unusual spelling of the film’s title comes from graffiti on a wall that Chris sees near the beginning of the film. In the movie, “happiness” is incorrectly spelled as “happyness” on the wall outside the daycare facility Gardner’s son attends. [from Wikipedia]


Chris Gardner, an author and former stock broker whose rags to riches story was the subject of his autobiography, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” and a Will Smith film of the same name, speaks often on how people can tap into their potential if they find their passion, take practical steps and develop a plan.

While struggling as a homeless single parent in San Francisco in the early 1980s, Gardner refused to give up his dream of financial independence.

Lacking a college degree or any personal connections, Gardner earned a spot in the Dean Witter Reynolds training program and was the only trainee who was offered a job at the firm in 1981.

He later started his own brokerage firm in Chicago but now devotes his time to speaking engagements and philanthropy, including work with the homeless.
[from: blog.al.com]

In The Pursuit of Happyness, Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a family man struggling to make ends meet. Despite his valiant attempts to help keep the family afloat, the mother (Thandie Newton) of his five-year-old son Christopher (Jaden Christopher Syre Smith) is buckling under the constant strain of financial pressure. No longer able to cope, she reluctantly decides to leave.

Chris, now a single father, continues to doggedly pursue a better-paying job using every sales skill he knows. He lands an internship at a prestigious stock brokerage firm, and although there is no salary, he accepts, hopeful he will end the program with a job and a promising future. Without a financial cushion, Chris and his son are soon evicted from their apartment and forced to sleep in shelters, bus stations, bathrooms or wherever they can find refuge for the night.

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Despite his troubles, Chris continues to honor his commitment as a loving and caring father, using the affection and trust his son has placed in him as an impetus to overcome the obstacles he faces. [from: chrisgardnermedia.com]

Gardner realized his story had Hollywood potential after an overwhelming national response to an interview he did with 20/20 in January 2002. He published his autobiography on May 23, 2006, before becoming an associate producer of the major motion picture The Pursuit of Happyness, directed by Gabriele Muccino and released by Columbia Pictures on December 15, 2006.

Life Lessons from the movie and the life of Chris Gardner:

“If you want to, one day you could make a million dollars.”
~Betty Jean Gardner to her son Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner is an impressive example of a person who has applied the principles of success against seemingly overwhelming obstacles, demonstrating that if HE made it, anyone can.

And what obstacles he had. Gardner happens to be African-American, not exactly a prime recruiting prospect for a financial services firm (his chosen profession) in the late 1970′s. He had no college degree, only a high school diploma and a stint in the Navy. In his youth he was emotionally and physically abused by his step-father, and was occasionally placed in foster care. He became a single parent who was at times homeless while working as a stockbroker, shuttling an infant son from daycare to homeless shelters while somehow keeping his day job going. In desperate hours he sometimes slept under his desk. The kicker of all kickers: At one point he and his son had no choice but to sleep in a subway station bathroom — how do any of your obstacles measure up against THAT?

And yet he rose to excel on Wall Street. Today Chris Gardner is the head of his own international holdings company with offices in Chicago and New York. He is active in many philanthropic organizations including the National Education Foundation. He has been honored by many of these, and has met with President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela.

Chris Gardner seems to have been on a mission since the time his son was born — to be the father that he never had.

Positive Mental Attitude
The quote above from Gardner’s mother is one sterling affirmation. When Chris’ mother spoke these words he was just a teenager. But they stayed with him his whole life, and the words kept flashing through his mind on his journey to success.

Persistence and Determination
The people who succeed have made up their minds about what they want, which is why they succeed. Chris made up his mind and stuck with it.

In the book Gardner talks about a life-changing encounter: In a parking lot he met a well-heeled gentleman who was driving a red Ferrari. He had to know what this person did and how he did it. Turns out the gentleman was in the financial services industry, making a great living by mostly talking to people on the phone.

Giving Back
Since Chris Gardner made it big time, he has made a point to give back to organizations that at one time supported him in his quest. I’m convinced the highest achievers always have a “cause” — something they believe so strongly in as to continually inspire their everyday interactions to the next level.

Chris Gardner’s remarkable achievements show that no matter what obstacles you face, the rules of the game of success are the same for everyone. If you follow the rules, no matter how tough it gets, you too will reap the reward of your own “Pursuit of Happyness.”
[from www.nightingale.com by success coach Jim Rohrbach]

There are a whole host of other lessons in there as well and if you watch the movie more than once you will get even more from it. Different people have found different bits resonating with them as is the case with any story, movie, book or life experience. This a wonderful life-affirming movie worth watching.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~   REVIEWS & RATINGS   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

METACRITIC: Rates it 64 – Generally Favourable Reviews >

ROTTEN TOMATOES: Rates it at Fresh Tomatoes –  67% / 171 Reviews  >

IMDB: Rates it 7.9/10 from 586 users with a metascore of 64/100 >


Now watch the Videos:

Chris Gardner – The REAL Pursuit of Happyness: Part 1/2

The REAL Pursuit of Happyness: Part 2/2


Christopher Gardner On Surmounting Obstacles


Chris Gardner UC Berkeley Commencement keynote 2009



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