Chris Gardner's Inspirational Rags to Riches Atory

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," January 23, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


WILL SMITH, ACTOR (as Chris Gardner): If you've got a dream, you've got to protect it. People can't do something themselves, they want to tell you, "You can't do it." If you want something, go get it.


GLENN BECK, HOST: That is a scene from one of the best movies made. It's "The Pursuit of Happyness," Chris Gardner's journey from homeless single father to the top of the corporate world.

He's with me now. Good friend.


BECK: Chris — how are you, Sir?

GARDNER: I'm blessed.

BECK: You know, this holiday, we were on vacation, and we took out the DVD of "The Pursuit of Happyness" and watched it as a family. I can't watch it, because I've seen it before. I get so — I know the pain, and I can relate to you as a dad with your son. And I watched it like, oh, gee, oh, oh. I get so uncomfortable, because I can relate to the character so well.

GARDNER: You know what? For me, anytime I see it, it is a different feeling.

BECK: Is it?

GARDNER: If I see any piece of it, because what you see is that one shot that captured that one moment, that one day —

BECK: Bathroom —

GARDNER: I can see the rest of the day that wasn't filmed.

BECK: Right.

GARDNER: You know what I mean? So it's like I'm seeing it in 3D.

BECK: And the story — my daughter said, "Oh, that story that we just played, the scene that we just played. Oh, Dad. That's so great." I said "Wait until you actually know the real story behind that scene. It's even better." Tell it.

GARDNER: That scene was almost not shot or rather, as you saw it, it was not written.

BECK: It's the other way around.

GARDNER: It was not written. It was written that the writer says the father has got to keep it real with the child. When the child says he's going to accomplish something, the father says, "Forget about it. I couldn't do it. You can't do it."

I waited until we were about to shoot that scene and I went up to Will and I said, "You can't shoot that scene." And we had a very intense discussion — myself, Will Smith, Gabriele Muccino and one of the producers.

And after a long intense discussion, Will said "You know what? Chris is right. Because I was taught by my mom that you can do or be anything you want to do or be."

BECK: Chris, you know, you and I — it was before the holidays. I don't remember where I was, but we touched base on the phone, and I said "You know, I'm concerned. We've got massive corruption going on, and then we have all these people that are just too big to fail, all these corporations that are too big to fail."

I was a failure most of my life. I wasn't a loser. I was a failure.

GARDNER: There's a difference.

BECK: Huge difference.

GARDNER: And not a quitter —

BECK: Explain — right. That's what makes a loser.

GARDNER: That is the big difference. I say to people all the time, it is OK to fail. Some of the greatest successes in the history of America started out as failures.

BECK: Right.

GARDNER: One guy that always comes to mind and I talk about him in my new book — Ray Kroc. Now, people don't know the name Ray Kroc as they readily should, but there is another name that's synonymous with his. It's called McDonald's. A lot of folks don't realize that before.

BECK: I don't think I know the downside of Ray Kroc.

GARDNER: Ray Kroc was middle-aged. He had health issues and he had failed at a number of other efforts before he stumbled into a little place in California where two guys called the McDonald brothers had a hamburger stand, OK?

He had failed. He was in debt. And he had health issues, but he believed his best days were ahead of him, and he kept going forward.

BECK: Failure is such a huge — what's the name of the book? I'm sorry. I didn't know the —

GARDNER: "Start Where You Are."


No, no, no. I have one for you right here. "Start Where You Are: Life Lessons and the Pursuit of Happyness."

BECK: All right. We're going to talk about some of the times that are coming and how to stay positive as well.


BECK: Back with Chris Gardner. OK. Chris, I think there is a slight possibility that this bailout thing is not going to work. I know it's a stretch. We could be headed for some real, dark economic times.

GARDNER: Absolutely.

BECK: I talk to my radio audience all the time and I hear it in their voices. They're pissed off, and some of them are scared on what's coming. I said to a friend of mine a few months ago — he was freaking out. He is a big stockbroker, somebody like you. And he said "Geez, Glenn."

And I said, "Listen, imagine yourself right now. Can you see yourself losing everything that you have?" And he said, "No." And I said, "Just see yourself losing everything and being OK with it, because if you are, everything else is gravy." The stuff you haven't doesn't matter. That didn't really work for him. He didn't like that idea. He almost punched me in the face.

GARDNER: But you know what? He might have to get used to that idea because it could be him.

BECK: Right.

GARDNER: I had an interesting experience recently. I travel to New York on the train, down at Wall Street, doing some business. And I'm coming down back midtown, 1:00 in the afternoon.

Normally, the train is empty. But on this day, the car is jam-packed of people in suits. Turns out I'm on the train with the first wave of 55,000 people that had gotten laid off from Citibank.

And you will notice everybody had the little box, your coffee mug, your pitcher, your plan and all that. And they all had to go home and tell their families they're no longer employed.

My point is, I had a conversation with a few of them and the thing I was able to stress is, "You lost your job, but you have not lost your skills, your talent or your expertise. And what we've got to do now is create opportunities for the skill. Talent and expertise are transferable."

BECK: Right. Let me — can we add just — we only have about a minute here, but show me your watches. You wear two watches.

GARDNER: It's true.

BECK: America, this is the thing about failure. He wears two watches to teach him a lesson about a failure.

GARDNER: Big time.

BECK: And it has changed your life. Talk about the two watches.

GARDNER: I showed up late for a meeting —

BECK: That will be that one. There you go.

GARDNER: I showed up late for a meeting with a potential investor when I was seeking capital to start my business in 1987 — 20 minutes late. And the gentleman explained to me, "Son, if I can't expect you to be on time for a meeting, I cannot expect you to be timely with my money."

BECK: Failure leads to success, America. Chris, we will see you again. Thank you very much.

GARDNER: Thank you so much.

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