The New York City subway would ordinarily be sparse at 1 p.m. on a weekday, but this time, it was packed. Chris Gardner said he found himself surrounded by men and women among the first wave of those laid off from a major corporation.
“They had to go home and tell their husbands, wives and the banks that they don’t have a job,” said Gardner.
The acclaimed author of “The Pursuit of Happyness,” Gardner’s story was portrayed in the movie by award-winning actor Will Smith. However, it was that moment on the train that sparked his latest book, “Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.”
Owner and Chief Executive Officer of the brokerage firm Gardner Rich LLC, Gardner will present a free interactive financial seminar sponsored by MasterCard on Saturday at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta. From homelessness to millionaire entrepreneur, Gardner’s inspiring journey is shocking in its extremes. In an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Chicago and New York resident shared the bedrock principles that help define him.
Q: Suppose you had been one of those laid off employees you saw on the train. How would you deal with finding yourself unemployed today?
A: First of all, when someone asks me what I would do, I say, ‘It’s your turn; I’ve had my turn.’ Seriously, maybe it is time for a lot of us to ask ourselves some very big questions. What do I really want to do? What am I passionate about? What won’t I compromise on? And am I willing to do the work to get there?
Q: That sounds good, but it’s a tough reality when you have bills to pay and no job.
A: You’ve lost your job, but you have not lost your skills, talent and expertise. You can find and create opportunities to transfer those skills, as opposed to just finding a job.
Q: How can someone get over the emotional hurdle of joblessness?
A: Your net worth is going to fluctuate. Your self worth can only appreciate. We can’t allow what we do to define who we are. You just got downsized, laid off, out-sourced and fired. Now who are you? It’s gotta be about bigger stuff.
Q: You talk a lot about separating yourself from negativity. Why is that important?
A: There are some people who just want an excuse not to try. That’s contagious; stay away from me. It can be done. I know so; I did it. I sat in some other places, too. I chose to sit here. I chose to do the work. I chose to be in total, complete control of my financial situation.”
What: Chris Gardner, entrepreneur and motivational speaker, gives free financial seminar
When: Saturday, 3 p.m.
Where: Hyatt Regency, 265 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta
How: Free registration deadline is today. Call 1-800-694-9891. Text ATL to 63767 or email firstname.lastname@example.org