If you don’t know Chris Gardner, you need to. I’ve had Mr. Gardner’s picture taped on my office wall ever since I read his feature story in Fortune, Sept. 2006. Gardner is the author of The Pursuit of Happyness and the subject of an upcoming Sony pictures movie, scheduled for release December 15, 2006.
When I look at Gardner’s face he makes me feel fearless, since what he has faced in his lifetime isn’t even in the realm of possibility for me. While living on the streets of San Francisco, his 20 month old son by his side, this guy somehow managed to not only survive, but thrive as a stockbroker with Dean Witter.
Gardner made up to 200 phone calls per day to build his client base, because he says “Every time I picked up the phone I knew I was getting closer to digging myself out of the hole.” Within five years he opened his own institutional brokerage firm in Chicago called Gardner Rich.
So as I sit in my cushy office, sometimes filled with trepidation when picking up the phone for a cold call, I look to Gardner and say to myself – suck it up already! How the heck can I look at his face and have fear…it literally makes me embarrassed to admit it. What the heck am I scared of?
My father always said to me “If you are white and American, you are half way there.”
No denying it, being born in America gives us limitless opportunities and advantages.
Being white, born and raised in the suburbs puts me another 5 steps up the ladder. In this context, it’s almost a crime for me to do any complaining whatsoever.
Do you know what Gardners mother used to say to him? “You can only depend on yourself. The cavalry ain’t coming.”
In my case, the calvary would be coming. I have my husband to fall back on. I have my parents to fall back on. I have extended family and friends to fall back on. For me to end up homeless, I would really have to work at it.
So I carry on, “pushing the pea” each day and thanking God for all the great advantages he chose to give me. This is one white girl you aren’t going to hear any whining from.
PS That type error in ‘Happyness’ is intentional, Gardner once saw it on the sign of a fellow homeless person.