The first story that I want to tell you about concerns one Chris Gardener, who went from homelessness to president and chief executive officer of Gardener Rich & Co., a brokerage firm in Chicago. It is truly a rags-to-riches story.
Mr. Gardener lived in a homeless shelter in San Francisco. He became homeless after losing his job and his common-law wife leaving him, taking away his young son, and locking up all of his possessions. He was arrested that same day for having $1,200 in unpaid parking tickets. He spent about 10 days in jail.
For months after his common-law wife had left him, he spent nights in friends' homes, cheap hotels, bus stations, the airport and a subway bathroom.
He finally got a job as a stockbroker trainee with a San Francisco brokerage firm. It paid him $1,000 a month, but it was enough for him to enable his son, who had been returned to him, and himself to move into their own apartment.
From 1981 until 1986, Mr. Gardener worked at Bear Stearns, and in 1986 he left to move to Chicago to start his own company, which now has 18 employees.
To top it off, Hollywood has purchased the rights to do the biography of Mr. Gardener, and Will Smith will play the lead.