Search Newsroom



Gardner excited to be keynote speaker at National Agents Alliance Leadership Conference in July

BURLINGTON, N.C. – You might not know the name Chris Gardner immediately, but there’s a good chance you have seen his story on the Silver Screen.

Gardner’s 2006 best-selling book The Pursuit of Happyness was turned into a movie starring Will Smith as Gardner, a role that earned Smith Academy Award, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations. Gardner, who made a brief appearance in the film’s final scene, was an associate producer on the film.

National Agents Alliance President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Albright announced last week that Gardner would be the keynote speaker at the company’s “Be Your Own Rock Star” Leadership Conference in July at the Raleigh Convention Center.

Chris Gardner is the owner and CEO of Gardner Rich, LLC with offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Conquering challenges to become a successful entrepreneur, Gardner is an avid motivational and inspirational speaker. His talks address the keys to overcoming obstacles and breaking cycles. He is a passionate philanthropist whose work has been recognized by many esteemed organizations.

Gardner said he looked forward to having the chance to speak with thousands of NAA agents in July.

“Like folks in most businesses, I’m sure insurance agents have experienced a difficult couple of years,” Gardner said. “My NAA Leadership Conference keynote presentation will focus on the lessons I’ve learned about coping with adversity in my own personal journey from the streets of San Francisco to Wall Street, a message I believe will resonate with anyone in their own “Pursuit of Happyness.”

Gardner’s aim, through his speaking engagements and media projects, is to help others achieve their full potential. His practical guidance and inspirational story have made him a frequent guest on CNN, CNBC and the Fox News channels. He has been featured on “The CBS Evening News,” “20/20,” “Oprah,” “Today Show,” “The View,” “Entertainment Tonight,” as well as in People, USA Today, Associated Press, New York Times, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Jet, Reader’s Digest, Trader Monthly, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Post and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Gardner has two children and resides in Chicago and New York.

“I’ve read Chris Gardner’s books, saw the movie about his life and read all sorts of articles about him,” Albright said. “He has an incredible story to share and I am so excited to hear him speak to our National Agents Alliance team. I am extremely pleased that he will be joining us in Raleigh, and I think it will be one of those visits that people will talk about for years.”

Gardner’s autobiography became a New York Times and Washington Post best-seller. It spent more than 20 weeks on the Times’ best-seller list and has been translated into more than 30 languages.

In his second Times’ bestselling book, Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting from Where You are to Where You Want to Be, Gardner unveiled his thoughts and steps to creating a fulfilling and successful life. The book provides Gardner’s blueprint for navigating tough times with positivity, courage, tenacity, discipline and common sense.

Gardner was born Feb. 9, 1954 in Milwaukee, Wisc. His childhood was shaped by poverty, domestic violence, alcoholism, sexual abuse and family illiteracy. He never knew his father, and lived with his mother Bettye Jean Triplett, when he was not in foster homes. She provided him with a strong spiritual background and taught him that no matter where he came from that he could chart another path and reach his goals in life.

He joined the Navy after high school and moved to San Francisco, Calif., where he worked as a medical research assistant. After the birth of his son Christopher Gardner Jr., he was set on finding a career that would be lucrative and fulfilling.

Intrigued by finance, but with no connections, an MBA or college degree, Gardner applied for training programs at brokerages. He was willing to live on next to nothing while learning a new trade. His wife left him, but he fought to keep their son Chris Jr. because he wanted his son to know his father.

Gardner earned a spot in the Dean Witter Reynolds training program but became homeless when he could not make ends meet on his meager trainee salary.

Gardner worked at Bear Stearns & Company from 1983-87 where he became a top earner. In 1987, he founded the brokerage firm Gardner Rich in Chicago with just $10,000. Gardner Rich, LLC is a FINRA registered broker-dealer specializing in servicing public pension funds and Taft-Hartley plans for some of the nation’s largest institutions and unions. In addition to expanding its core business as an institutional securities broker, Gardner Rich has increased its participation in corporate underwriting and has expanded its brokerage services to include trading in global markets through both ordinary and ADR form.


National Agents Alliance is an innovative lead generation and marketing organization that sells life insurance, annuities, and other financial services products through more than 7,000 active independent sales representatives in 50 states. Focused on serving middle-income families, National Agents Alliance is the No. 1 United States provider of mortgage protection insurance and offers a broad array of other affordable products from highly regarded companies such as Mutual of Omaha, Foresters, and ING. Since its inception in 2002, National Agents Alliance has helped more than 670,000 families successfully apply for more than $78 billion in life insurance coverage.

For more information about National Agents Alliance, call 1-866-752-1163, or visit


Chris Gardner is the owner and CEO of Gardner Rich, LLC with offices in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Conquering grave challenges to become a successful entrepreneur, Gardner is an avid motivational and inspirational speaker, addressing the keys to overcoming obstacles and breaking cycles. Gardner is also a passionate philanthropist whose work has been recognized by many esteemed organizations. He is the author of two books, The Pursuit of Happyness and Start Where You Are, both New York Times bestsellers.

For additional information on this topic, please call Mac Heffner at 336.227.3319 x1189 or email Mac at

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter!


2022 National Agents Alliance