Book Review: “The Pursuit of Happiness” by Chris Gardner

This is a rags-to-riches story. Chris Gardner would have been written off long time ago and would not stand a chance to succeed. He was a poor boy living through abandonment by his own father, several separations with his mother due to her going in and out of prison, verbal and physical abuses by his step father. Against all odds, based on his own drive to success and his mother’s encouragement (“You can make a million if you want to.”)

The most dramatic and interesting part of the story is that after he had some success with his medical equipment sales career, he became homeless with his boy, walking around in baby stroller in Oakland, BART station, San Francisco, all the while trying to make a career in the E.F. Hutton Brokerage house, sometime sleeping in the bathrooms of the BART station, or dark corner of the Union Square WITH his baby boy!

Armed with his SPD (Smart, Poor, and Deep desire to succeed) and several people’s help, he was able to rise through the ranks, founded his own firm and became rich. This story should serve as a good motivator for people stuck in the same situation. There is no question that Chris Gardner was a very smart person in his own right. Who would capture any seemingly unlikely chance to talk to a guy driving a Farrari sports car and ask him directly how he became rich. He was direct, charming, knew exactly what he wanted – to pursue his happiness that he desired in this world against all odds. No one else believed in him except his Mom and his little boy.

By any standard, he is a very good salesman. He just knows how to sell. His secret? Understand what the customer needs and sell them what they want, above and beyond their needs. Of course, it doesn’t hurt what he was selling was making money for the clients. The numbers speak for themselves. He also found a niche to sell into the rich black community that needs his service.

I haven’t got a chance to watch the movie version. But this audio book was so vividly narrated, I can feel all the emotions encountered by the author. Sometimes, it helps to be put in the deepest cycle of the life to shake someone out of his comfort zone and become the best he/she can be. This is a success story. If he can do it, there are many people can do it too.