chris gardner

The Pursuit of Happyness with Chris Gardner

Today, our guest is Chris Gardner, New York Times and Washington Post Best Selling author of the critically acclaimed The Pursuit of Happyness, which has been translated in over 40 languages and became a popular 2006 film starring Will Smith.

The book was the story of Chris’s life, a way to project onto the world that everyone can do anything, no matter what the obstacles are, no matter what the adversity is, because we all embrace the Power of Choice. That’s what this episode is all about!

In our conversation with Chris Gardner, we will talk about how we can make powerful pivots in our lives when we are confronted with adversities. We go over how we can show up as more empowered and compassionate fathers than we ever thought possible, even when we’re dealing with everyday stress and obstacles in our lives.

We also discuss how his upcoming book, Permission to Dream, lays out a blueprint for building a dream-come-true life, even during uncertainty.

Chris Gardner

“The first and most important decision that I ever made in my life was that, my children would always know who their father was. Without knowing the names, circumstances, social or social conditions I consciously chose to break every cycle that I was born into. Child abandonment, Child abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, fear, poverty, and illiteracy. The second most important decision that I ever made in my life was that I would become WORLD CLASS as whatever I did in my life.”

Permission to Dream

A true fable, Permission to Dream is a timeless and timely manifesto for turning dreams into action—beginning right now.

At its heart, this book lays out a blueprint for building a dream-come-true life—even during uncertainty. Gardner delivers the secrets to achieving a prosperous career—from a method for identifying your ultimate dream to a playbook for becoming world class at it. His tools include the “new 3 R’s”—or the Rep, the Rap and the Rolodex—which reveal how to earn a stellar reputation, develop a rap for marketing yourself, and amass a Rolodex of rewarding relationships. No matter how much wealth you achieve, Chris notes, true success comes from enriching the lives of others—so all can still have access to the American Dream.

Toward the end, Brooke observes that in Atomic Time it’s never too late for anyone to reinvent themselves and change their fortune. Chris, hearing her, realizes what his next pursuit will be—to go back to high school and give permission to dream to the next generation of problem solvers and change makers.

What You’ll Learn

What His Childhood Looks Like


The first and most important decision that Chris ever made in his life was that his children would always know who their father was. Chris grew up with a stepfather constantly reminding him that he was not his father. Without knowing the names, circumstances, and social conditions, this decision allowed Chris to break all of the other associated links that he was born into, including child abuse, domestic violence, alcoholism, illiteracy, fear, powerlessness, and generational poverty.

Getting Through an Obstacle


You need to own your situation. Chris was reminded with the last conversation he had with his friend and mentor, Dr. Maya Angelou who was talking about struggle and how important it is to be mindful that there are people who came before us, who came up a steeper side of this mountain, carrying a bigger to heavier load, with little to no opportunity, but they kept going forward, onward and upward. And now, it’s our turn to experience and get through all these things.


As we go forward, we need to take baby steps. We take strides when the path is clear, when there’s no obstacles, no issues, and no challenges. But sometimes you need to take those baby steps in the dark. Part of taking that first step is embracing the joy that is yours, that has been presented only to you and the moment of the greatest darkness you have ever seen.

Meeting the Biological Father


Chris only met his biological father because of his son. Chris was reading this storybook where there are illustrations of a cow family with a mother cow, baby cow, and daddy cow, and as they were going through the story, Chris’ son gave his own interpretation and apply it in the human context of having both mother and father. That’s when Chris knew he needed to reach out to his biological father. The next time Chris saw his father was at his funeral.

The Blessing of the Curse


Chris’ stepfather showed him what Chris did not want to become. Because of what he has experienced with his grandfather, it made him strive harder to be the best for his children.

The Inspiration behind Permission to Dream


Since the day Chris’ granddaughter was born, the greatest gift that he ever got was the permission to dream. He also was motivated by his mother who told him every day that he can do or be anything.


Another big part of the book is Chris talking about the greatest export in the history of the United States is the American dream. And this ideal look that there’s a place where you could do or be anything that is the greatest export in the history of this country.


The biggest thing that we have to understand is that the American has changed. The biggest change is that because of globalization and technology, and that you’re competing with people around the world. While we are young and enjoying our time, it is important to know that the people that we are competing with are in someplace grinding. They’re studying, they’re practicing. They’re networking, they’re rehearsing their research.


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Chris Gardner’s Links




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