I love to watch movies any chance I get. Recently, I watched the 2006 movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, a rags-to-riches story based on the autobiographical book of the same name, written by Chris Gardner. The movie chronicles how Chris Gardner, despite all odds, makes it from down-and-out salesperson to become owner of a multi-million dollar brokerage firm.
While the movie takes some creative license over the actual events written in the book, the story details the challenges of this budding entrepreneur. Despite people around him doubting that he could ever become a successful broker, he pursued his dream of winning a spot in one of the country’s biggest brokerage firms.
At the lowest points in his life, however, he and his young son lived in and out of shelters, slept in subway bathrooms, and ate at soup kitchens. Yet, despite his every struggle, he took action each day excelling throughout his internship. Throughout the entire movie, you witnessed his unending resolve that success would happen.
Every entrepreneur could learn from the attributes that took him from believing to achieving his dream. The one thing that kept him motivated was his belief that success was possible and that he could make a better life. It was interesting to see several attributes that any entrepreneur could learn from:
Do What It Takes
Once Chris secured his internship, he was asked to get donuts and coffee and other jobs that made him feel underappreciated and underrated, but he did it anyway. While he had to take public transportation, he still managed to get to his internship job early. Rather than look at these challenges as barriers, he found a way to make it work to achieve his goal.
Chris learned to make the best use of his time while at work. As an intern, Chris had to make a certain number of calls each day. A certain amount of calls each day meant a certain number of prospects which turned into a certain number of clients. He had to make every minute of his workday count because he had to leave on time. One minute late could mean the difference between getting a bed for him and his son at the shelter or risk losing his spot and sleeping in the public bathrooms. He found that he could gain another eight minutes each day by touching the disconnect button instead of physically hanging up the phone on the cradle like the other interns were doing. He used this productivity tactic to book more business.
While trying to sell one of the last scanners to a doctor that he had leftover from a previous sales position which would give him money to eat and a place to stay, it quit operating and he couldn’t sell it until he fixed it. Disappointed and down, he found a shelter for the night. He stayed up the entire night fixing the scanner while also studying for his internship test. The next day, he packed up, caught the bus with his son and made his way back to his internship. Each day had its challenges, but he showed up again the next day ready to move ahead.
One of the poignant parts of the movie with an important message for entrepreneurs came when he and his son were playing basketball. His son loved basketball. At one point, he found himself saying to his son that he didn’t want him playing ball all day wasting his time. His son immediately dropped the ball and began putting it away. Realizing that he just discouraged his son from pursuing a dream, he stopped himself and shared with him to always believe in and pursue his dream no matter what anyone said.
The real Chris Gardner’s company would go on to develop an internship program and help a young woman who then went on to get her college degree. She was the only one of 12 children in her family to do so. This movie and the person and events that inspired it have a purpose. As an entrepreneur, you have a purpose. There is an impact you will have in the world. In fact, right now, there is a person who is hoping for a solution that you provide. It’s up to you to do what it takes, be innovative, rebound and believe success is possible.
Each day, what inspires you to keep on achieving your goals?