On the 9th of February 1954, in Milawukee Wisconsin, a baby boy was born to Thomas Turner and Bettye Jean Gardner, a boy who would later become one of the world’s most influential and successful entrepreneurs, (Gardner, 2014). Chris Gardner faced many challenges in his childhood that helped shape the man he is today. Not only did he grow up in an abusive household, but also had to face the horror of him and his siblings being sent to foster care after his mother was falsely imprisoned for welfare fraud by his step-father, and later convicted for attempted murder of his step-father, (Horsfield, 2012).
Gardner was fortunate enough to become acquainted to a late Henry, who had a profound influence on his life as a father figure. Gardner’s mother, through her periods of absence, was also a source of encouragement, inspiration and strength as she tried to instil the value of self-reliance and self-belief in him, (Horsfield, 2012). “The cavalry ain’t coming. You can only depend on yourself.” was a quote from his mother that he carried throughout his childhood experiences of alcoholism, domestic abuse, poverty, illiteracy and fear, (Gardner, 2014). He was determined to escape from all these experiences and build a different and brighter future for himself.
Politics and music became a huge interest for Gardner in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. He inspired himself with the works of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr and Eldridge Cleaver, to name a few, and expanded his world view by educating himself with south African historical events such as the Sharpeville massacre, apartheid and international racial issues, (Horsfield, 2012). After completing secondary schooling, Gardner enlisted into the U.S Navy, inspired by his Uncle Henry, and was assigned as a corpsman. Gardner later moved to San Francisco after his discharge from the Navy in 1974, being offered a position in assisting in clinical research at the University of California Medical Centre by Dr. Robert Ellis, a cardiac surgeon, (Costantinou, 2005). In the two years spent there, he gained skills in managing a laboratory and performing various surgical techniques. He also co-authored several articles in medical journals with Dr. Ellis, (Horsfield, 2012).
The medical field seemed to be the obvious choice to pursue but Gardner made the sudden choice to abandon his dreams of becoming a doctor to consider a more lucrative career option. He later quit his job as a research lab assistant after four years as the pay was not enough to support his live-in girlfriend, Jackie Medina and son, Christopher Jarrett Medina Gardner Jr, born in 1981 from the extramarital affair. He doubled his salary as a medical equipment salesman, (Costantinou, 2005). A pivotal moment in his life occurred when he met Bob a stockbroker who introduced him to the world of finance, (Costantinou, 2005). After two months of postponing sales appointments for meetings with major stock brokerage firms such as Smith Barney ad Merrill Lynch, he...