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Sweet dreams are made of this: Chris Gardner speaks at Riyadh book fair

RIYADH: Businessman and author Chris Gardner gave a touching account of his life at the Riyadh International Book Fair on Saturday.

Saying that he was honored to be invited to the fair, Gardner discussed the many obstacles he has faced in his 67 years.

He talked about his newest book, “Permission to Dream,” and spoke inspiringly about his childhood, his struggles and the foundations his mother laid that motivated him to achieve anything he can dream of.

“If you want something, go get it, period, don’t ever let somebody else tell you what you can’t do. Mama said I can be anybody I want,” Gardner explained.

Known as the brave father who overcame continuous obstacles to give his child the life he deserved, confronting multiple challenges along the way to become a successful stockbroker on Wall Street.

His life story, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” has been published in more than 40 languages and it was translated into Arabic last year.

It was made into the 2006 $300 million box office hit of the same name, starring Will Smith.

“For me it was never about money, for me it was a love story, about a man who was committed to giving his child something that he never had, which was a father,” the author said.

“What was so nice about this experience is that my son never knew we were homeless, he didn’t need to know.”

The epitome of the American dream, Gardner’s life story tells a tale of breaking barriers and overcoming tribulations to support his son and eventually become one of the best known stockbrokers and founder of Gardner Rich, a multimillion-dollar brokerage firm.

Gardner explained the story behind his newest book.

Gardner discussed the motivation and support he received from his loving and hardworking mother, Betty Jean Triplett, who gave him the permission to dream of a better life.

“In light of the changes here in Saudi Arabia with Vision 2030 a lot of you have been given the permission to dream,” he said.

“Saudi Arabia is one of the most exciting places on the planet because of the many changes initiated in the Kingdom by the Crown Prince that have opened so many opportunities in the world, especially for women.”

Gardner told the audience about the three most important decisions he made in his life.

He talked about the threats he faced from his stepfather, who once held a shotgun to his chest and said, “I am not your daddy.”

“The single most important decision in my life, I made as a five-year-old boy. When I become a father my children will know who their father is,” Gardner said.

His second best decision was deciding to become “world-class” at something. “Meaning I am going to become the best at whatever it is I decide to do,” the author said.

The third one was one he made at the young age of 18 in joining the Navy and committing to plan A, not plan B.

“Time is the most valuable asset. You can make money, you can lose money, but you can’t make time. If you have a dream you need to start taking big steps forward now,” he said.

He said his next and most important objective in the world is to spend as much time as he can with youth and create the next generation of Chris Gardners.

Gardner left the audience with a question at the end of his motivational talk.

“The world is coming to Saudi Arabia, let me ask you something, what are you doing to be great? Some of the best and greatest from the planet are going to be coming to your country. What are you doing to make sure you are ready to complete, to be the employer, not the employee?”

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