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Chris Gardner Net Worth

Reading Time: 18 minutes
Chris Gardner Net Worth: $70 million
Born: 9th February 1954 (67 Years Old)
Profession: Stockbroker, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Writer
Children: 2

In 2023, Chris Gardner’s net worth is approximately $70 million, according to celebritynetworth.com.

By anyone’s standards, this is an amazing achievement but when you find out that at the age of 28, Gardner was homeless and standing in lines at soup kitchens trying to feed his son, you start to realize just how incredible Gardner’s life story is.

So how did he do it?

Like so many other entrepreneurs who have a rags-to-riches story and have come from nothing, Gardner put the hard work in and did whatever it took to make a success of his life.

Chris Gardner Early Life Story

In order to understand Chris Gardner’s net worth today we have to learn about his early life.

By looking into what happened during his childhood and adolescence, we can see where he acquired his ambition and desperation to succeed.

Gardner had a traumatic childhood and like many children who grow up in a chaotic family home, it was his childhood experience that would shape the rest of his life.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin his biological father, Thomas Turner, left home from an early age, leaving Chris’ mother Bettye Jean Gander and stepfather, Freddie Triplett, as his guardians.

Triplett was an abusive stepfather and would regularly physically abuse Gardner’s mother and his sisters.

Due to the constant domestic violence between his parents, Gardner and his sisters went into foster care, with Chris staying with his uncle Henry.

This was a turning point for the young Chris, as Uncle Henry was the male role model that he had lacked throughout his life.

His uncle would go on to have the greatest influence on the youngster who would never forget the love he received from him, describing it as the happiest moment of his life.

Uncle Henry was a member of the US army whose impact on the young Gardner could not be understated.

Having a strong male influence in his life meant the world to a young Chris Gardner and is something that would stay with him up until the day he would have children himself.

The memory of his Uncle Henry is something that the future stockbroker has always kept close to this day.

At a time when his life could have easily had gone down the wrong path, it was the presence of his Uncle that provided a stable grounding for Gardner and his family.

Like so many things in Chris Gardner’s early childhood another tragic turn of events occurred at this time when Uncle Henry drowned in the Mississippi river when Chris was just nine.

To illustrate how chaotic Gardner’s life was at this time, whilst attending Henry’s funeral, Chris’ mother had a police guard whilst she was there.

Gardner would later find out that his mother had been arrested for attempting to murder Chris abusive stepfather Freddie Triplett.


It was indeed his Uncle who influenced and inspired Gardner to join the U.S Navy after he had left high school.

Desperate to get away from the madness of his family he moved to North Carolina until his eventual discharge in 1974.

In the Navy, Gardner was assigned the position of hospital corpsman where his role would include assisting medical professionals in their day to day care of the sailors and their families.

Chris Gardner In The US Navy. Credit: Instagram

Gardner took a real interest in the medical field and began to study the subject.

It was here that the future multi-millionaire developed a trait that would ensure his success during his later years.

His ability to learn and do it quickly.

The medical assistant’s dedication to his role didn’t go unnoticed by the Doctors he was working with and after demonstrating impressive knowledge and care he was offered a position to work at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco under the guidance of Dr Robert Ellis, whom he had become friends with whilst working in the Navy.

After making the move to the West Coast, Gardner’s development in the medical field skyrocketed.

Within two years, the boy from North Carolina who had grown up in a dysfunctional family would be running his own laboratory and publishing his own medical journals as he became a respected voice within his field.

Marriage, Becoming A Father, and Starting Again

At the age of 22, Gardner had seemingly turned his life around.

Through dedication and hard-work he had acquired a job that had a future to build his life around.

However, one of the toughest points in Gardner’s life was on the horizon.

In 1977 the former US Navy hospital corpsman married Sherry Dyson, an academic and career focussed individual who wanted her husband to pursue a career in medicine.

Gardner clearly loved his work and was content with his day to day role but he had another attribute which would ensure he would not stay there for long…ambition.

The lab assistant wanted to build on his initial success in life and see how far he could get.

His wife wanted him to become a Doctor, but for the young, ambitious Gardner it was too much of risk to go to study for 10 years for a job that may not be as lucrative as it was at the time.

During the 1970s, the healthcare industry was changing rapidly with the increased use in technology and Gardner didn’t want to risk studying for 10 years only to be told that his job as a physician was of little value.

Much to the disappointment of his wife, he told her that he planned to quit his medical job to pursue a career in sales.

The decision would have a huge impact on the couple’s marriage. As they started to pursue their own goals the husband and wife began to drift apart.

It was at this time Chris Garner met Jackie Medina, a dental student.

They pair started an affair and within months Medina was pregnant with Gardner’s first child, Christopher Jarrett Gardner Jr.

After only three years of marriage, the lab technician left his wife and moved in with his girlfriend and soon to be mother of his first child.

With another mouth to feed, Gardner began feeling the pressure of fatherhood.

His current job only paid around $8,000 which wasn’t enough to support a young family in San Francisco during the 1980s.

He started selling medical equipment door to door (or hospital to hospital) and whilst it gave him a much needed boost in income it still wasn’t enough for the ambitious father of one.

It was whilst he was pitching to a hospital his medical equipment he had a chance meeting with Bob Bridges who was a stockbroker working in the city.

The pair got talking about their careers and after Gardner saw Bridges drive off in a Ferrari he knew what industry he wanted to work in.

red ferrari 458 italia on road during daytime
Seeing Bridges In A Red Ferrari Made Gardner Become A Stockbroker. Credit:Brandon Atchison

Homelessness and Becoming a Stockbroker

Bridges (the man in the Ferrari) would later play a pivotal role in getting Gardner into the stockbroking industry.

He organized meetings for Gardner in a number of big brokerage firms, including the likes of Merrill Lunch.

Whilst obviously grateful for the opportunities that he had been given, Gardner was in the tough situation of deciding one of two things:

  • Whether to fulfill his sales meetings and make sure he had enough money to cover his rent or
  • Cancel his meetings and attend the brokerage interviews in the hope that he would be offered a place.

What would you do?

He decided that if he was to provide a better life for his family he would have to think long-term and risk missing out on the short-term cash he got from his sales meetings.

An opening position at a brokerage firm is more likely to have greater prospects than selling medical equipment to hospitals.

After impressing in a number of interviews, the medical salesman was offered a position at the E.F Hutton, a prestigious brokerage firm founded in San Francisco in 1904.

Things were looking up.

However, as with a lot of things that happened in Gardner’s life…it was never going to be this easy.

Disaster struck when his relationship with Jackie took a turn for the worse.

With Chris providing little to no income to the household. the arguments between the two became more frequent.

On one occasion Gardner was accused of assaulting Jackie and even spent the night in prison after an altercation that got out of hand and resulted in the stockbroker being accused of assault.

His stay in prison was to be extended for a further 10 days for all the parking tickets his had accumulated attending all the brokerage interviews over the previous months.

How many parking tickets would you have to have had to get a extra 10 days in prison?

Around $1,200 worth.

By the time Gardner was released from prison he had lost everything.

Jackie had left him and taken their son with her. His rented apartment was empty and he had lost his position at E.F Hutton.

But like so many times before in his life when Gardner faced adversity, he would confront it head on.

It was at this moment of hitting rock bottom that Gardner displayed the unwavering belief and determination that separates him from the rest.

He had no job, no qualifications and no resume.

The brokerage industry during the 1980s was a highly competitive industry and companies would receive thousands of applicants and most of them were college graduates.

In order for Gardner to get a foot in the door in this industry he had to stand out from people who had more connections and better qualifications.

So many people would quit at this point telling themselves that it would be impossible.

yoda that is why you fail star wars

Against all the odds Gardner managed to convince the executives at brokerage firm Dean Witter Reynolds that he was worthy of a chance to prove that he could make it in the industry.

He was put on the company’s training program but there was one catch…

There was no salary.

So what did he do?

He needs some money just to survive. Did he quit?


Gardner’s solution to this “predicament” of not having any money to pay the rent was to work two jobs.

One at the brokerage firm during the day and one selling medical equipment at night.

The man is nothing short of incredible.

This is why Gardner tells people today that if you want something bad enough you can get it.

Becoming a Stockbroker At Dean Witter Reynolds

The former US Navy hospital corpsman had got the position he was so desperate for.

You would be forgiven for thinking that he had done the hard part by getting a position ahead of so many other, better qualified, candidates.

In fact, the hard work was just beginning.

Chris Gardner As A Qualified Stockbroker. Credit:Instagram

Driven by the sense that he had something more to prove than his colleagues, Gardner had to impress.

He was the first in the office and the last out.

Gardner was so strict with his time that he wouldn’t waste it with “water cooler small talk” and would be consistently making cold calls to potential customers throughout the day.

He set himself daily goals of making 200 cold calls per day in order to give him the best chance of opening up new accounts and getting more customers.

*** Cold calling really is a numbers game. No salesman has a 100% record and you will more than likely get rejected more than you get accepted.

Gardner understood this concept better than most and understood the key to getting new accounts was to try as many potential leads as possible.

He knew that it would only take a handful of committed clients to transform his client base.

His skills as a salesman didn’t go unnoticed as he started to open more and more accounts.

By the time he completed his Series 7 Exam, which allowed him to become a qualified stockbroker, he became a full-time employee at the firm and started to earn a salary.

The former medical equipment salesman had put himself on the road to success.

Now it was a question of how far he could go.

It was during this time when his former partner, Jackie, returned with his son, Christopher.

Owing to his poor relationship with his own father, Gardner took full custody of his son, vowing to be the father he always wanted.

Unfortunately, the temporary accommodation where he was residing wouldn’t allow children.

Although he was employed by one of the top brokerages in San Francisco, Gardner and his son were now homeless.

The pair would sleep wherever they could find relative safety, including parks, airports, at his workplace and even in train station bathrooms.

The father and son were constantly moving around together as Gardner struggled to put his infant son in daycare whilst he went to work.

The qualified stockbroker didn’t tell his work colleagues of his situation and kept his struggles a private matter.

Starting His Own Firm

Fives years after qualifying as a stockbroker, Gardner set up his own firm, Gardner Rich & Co.


From going to knowing nothing about the brokerage industry and only entering the profession because he saw someone driving a Ferrari to owning his own brokerage firm.

All within five years.

*** This is why Gardner believes anyone can be a success if they put in the work. It didn’t matter what industry he entered (so long as the pay was good) because he was going to make no matter what.

That’s right just five years of working at Dean Witter Reynolds and another brief spell at Bear Stearns, Gardner knew the industry enough to go it alone.

Now don’t get me wrong his new company was nothing fancy.

It wasn’t an open-plan office with a games room for employees to unwind. It was just an empty apartment with a table and chairs.

In fact, the initial startup capital for the company was only $10,000.

However, every business has to start somewhere and we already know Gardner has no problem starting from the bottom.

By the time he had sold his stake in the company in 2006, the deal would make Gardner an official multi-millionaire.

The Rest of Chris Gardner’s Net Worth Explained: Author of Bestselling Books, Motivational Speaking, Philanthropy

We have seen that Chris Gardner’s net worth in the early days was largely attributable to his success as a stockbroker.

However, his career in the brokerage industry didn’t give him the $70million net worth that he has today.

So how did he achieve it??

Over the years, the multi-millionaire has capitalized on his initial business success by creating numerous other income streams which have grown substantially over the years.

Author of Bestselling Books

Gardner knew that his achievements in life were inspirational.

It’s not being arrogant when it’s true.

He knew that his story of having very little qualifications, a family to provide for and working two jobs to becoming a multi-millionaire stockbroker would resonate with others who were in similar positions.

A story of hope and belief is one that will always have an audience.

In 2006, Gardner released the title, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” which is a reference to the United States Declaration of Independence.

It states that the Government is created to protect an individual’s rights to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

It is these principles that the American dream was built on and one that Chris Gardner epitomizes

The reception to his autobiography was nothing short of astounding.

It was an instant success and topped the New York Times Bestseller list.

We are often told of America being the land of opportunity but it is only when we see an example like Gardner’s that we see how special a place it can be.

After becoming a New York Times Bestselling author, Gardner has gone on to write a number of other titles, including:

As you can tell by their title, Gardner’s books primarily focus on self-improvement and telling his audience that they too can achieve all the things they want from life.

Motivational Speaking

As someone who has spent the early years of his life dealing with a chaotic home life, being homeless and fighting for everything he got it was almost inevitable that Gardner would become a public speaker.

His story is too inspirational for him not to be.

Chris Gardner As A Public Speaker. Credit: Instagram

Whilst his background has never really been into public speaking, just like everything else in his life he has worked hard to develop the necessary skills to become successful.

A hugely popular speaker, Gardner charges anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000 per event and is a frequent guest on all the major news channels including CNBC, CNN, Fox News and has also been a guest on Oprah.

Like so much of his work, his talks focus on self-improvement and helping his audience achieve their potential.

One of the topics that he created was the concept of “Spiritual Genetics”.

It’s a philosophy based on the idea that whilst your physiological genetics are something you have no control over, you do have control over your spiritual genetics which is something that cannot be measured or quantified by science.

It is something inside you that if you learn to harness, can push you on to greater things.

It is these spiritual genetics that Gardner himself became a master of and continues to teach his followers the same, whether through his public speaking or via his social media profiles online where he has hundreds of thousands of followers.

Charity Work and Philanthropy

It has often been remarked that “those who have grown up in poverty are often the most generous…because they know what it’s like to have nothing”.

Whether it is true or not, it is certainly applicable to Chris Gardner.

And believe me, it’s not just another multi-millionaire giving away some of his money for tax reasons or for personal glory.

The charities that Gardner supports remain close to his heart as they were there for him when he needed them the most.

He gave the Glide Memorial Methodist Church a large undisclosed sum, as they were the ones that gave Gardner and his son shelter when they were homeless.

In addition to his generous donations, Gardner has also started a number of initiatives aimed at those who are in similar positions that he found himself in.

He reportedly contributed to a government-backed initiative in San Francisco which was a $50million initiative for low-income housing and employment opportunities…something Gardner himself would have participated in when he was a struggling medical equipment salesman.

And it’s not just about the money.

Gardner donates clothing, shoes and more importantly, his own time to help those in the deprived communities that he once came from.

Under the Christopher Gardner Foundation, he even gives advice and offers mentorship to those who wish to emulate his success; whether it is getting a good-paying job or starting a business the self-made millionaire is always on hand.

Gardner’s philanthropy is the definition of “giving back” and helping those who helped you in your time of need.

He is the example that should be the standard.

His generosity has not gone unrecognized as he received the Father of the Year Award in 2002.

In 2006 he received the Friends of Africa Award for his work in investing in South African companies and providing hundreds of jobs in the country.

Gardner With Nelson Mandela Discussing Investment In South Africa. Credit:Instagram

Making Movies

Gardner’s success as an author and businessman had given him a big platform in the world of business but it is undoubtedly the Hollywood movie “The Pursuit of Happyness,” which made him a household name.

The movie stars Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith who play Chris Gardner and Chris Gardner Jr and is based on his struggle to become a stockbroker during the 1980s.

Smith plays the role of Gardner superbly as he accurately portrays all the struggles Gardner went through at this time from homelessness, his broken relationship with Jackie and doing everything he can to get a job at Dean Witter Reynolds stockbrokers.

The movie is a roller coaster of emotions.

Chris Gardner even makes an appearance towards the end.

Chris Gardner In The Pursuit Of Happyness. Credit: Instagram

The movie’s reception was nothing short of astonishing.

It has grossed over $300million worldwide and even earned Smith an Oscar nomination for his role as best actor.

Gardner’s story resonated with so many around the world that he became an instant celebrity off the back of the movie.

And whilst Gardner was grateful for the newfound attention, he used his position to continue pushing his message of hard work and endeavor in order to achieve the things you want in life.

What is Chris Gardner Doing Now?

In 2023, at the age of 67, Chris Gardner continues to dedicate his life to helping others and providing inspiration for those who need it.

His Instagram, @ceoofhappyness, has nearly a quarter of a million followers and his Twitter account has approximately 33,000 followers.

Whether it is attending seminars or showing his gym workouts, the self-made millionaire is very active on social media and regularly posts updates about his professional life and the things that remain the most important to him, his family life.

When he is not updating his fans on social media, Gardner is fulfilling his motivational speaker engagements and writing books, his most recent being Permission to Dream (2021).

Chris Gardner Is Enjoying Life. Credit: Instagram

Chris Gardner’s Famous Quotes

“Don’t EVER let someone tell you you can’t do something. Not even me”

“The secret to success: Find something you love to do so much, that you can’t wait for the sun to rise to do it all over again.”

“The cavalry ain’t coming. You’ve got to do this yourself”.

“If you want something, go get it. Period.”

Chris Gardner Quote From Permission To Dream. Credit:Instagram

“It can be done, but you have to make it happen”.

“I was homeless, but I wasn’t hopeless. I knew a better day was coming”.

Find something you love to do so much,

You can’t wait for the sun to rise to do it all over again

Chris Gardner

“There is no Plan B for passion”.

“You’ve got to ask yourself every day, What am I doing with my time?”

**** Personal Favourite Quote –

Summary: Chris Gardner Net Worth

  • In 2023, Chris Gardner’s net worth is approximately $70million, according to celebritynetworth.com.
  • Growing up in Wisconsin in a dysfunctional family with an abusive stepfather the main ‘fatherly’ influence that a young Chris Gardner had in his life was from his Uncle Henry, who was in the US Army.
  • Following his uncle’s footsteps, Gardner entered the US Navy as a hospital corpsman. He impressed his peers immediately with his dedication to improving his medical knowledge and was offered a job in San Francisco by one of the Doctors.
  • He took the job offer and soon transitioned into a sales position going from hospital to hospital selling medical equipment.
  • During this time, he split from his wife and had a son, Christopher Gardner Jr, with his new partner Jackie.
  • After a chance meeting with a stockbroker, Gardner’s new ambition was to become a stockbroker.
  • With little qualifications and in a highly competitive industry, Gardner managed to get a job at Dean Witter Reynolds by sheer determination. He completed his training period before the series seven exam, which made him a qualified stockbroker.
  • Within five years of qualifying, Gardner knew enough about the industry to go it alone and set up his stockbroking business, Gardner Rich & Co, with a startup capital of $10,000.
  • After a few years, he sold his stake in the company, which made him a millionaire many times over.
  • The rest of his career has been dedicated to helping others reach their potential and has become a prolific public speaker and author with several bestselling titles.
  • Today Gardner travels the world spreading his positive message and helping others achieve their goals.
  • He charges anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000 per speaking event.
  • He is active on social media with his Instagram, @ceoofhappyness, having nearly a quarter of a million followers.

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