Voices of Vision 2024
PERMISSION TO DREAM
with Chris Gardner
The true story behind major motion picture The Pursuit of Happyness.
I am an entrepreneur, single parent and author of The Pursuit of Happyness. That book was the story of my life, but I've always thought of it as the book of 'us,' meaning everyone who had every opportunity to quit, but didn't.
We all have the power of choice.
Having survived all of the cycles that could and should have crashed me, and crashed many others, I found myself once again challenged in the early ‘80s when I became a working homeless veteran with a toddler son. This is when I made the two most important decisions I’ve ever made in my life, and I was about to be tested to the nth degree.
It was then I decided that my children would always know who their father was. I consciously chose to break every typical cycle that I was born into: child abandonment, child abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, fear, poverty and illiteracy. My second decision was that I would become world-class in whatever I did in my life. This led me to a nearly 40-year career on Wall Street, and I wouldn’t trade a single day of it for anything in the world.
Those two decisions led me to a new question I recently had to answer: “What are you doing with the rest of your life? Do you retire or REWIRE?”
I’ll see you on April 18, where we will give ourselves Permission to Dream, make the life-changing decisions we need to make, and REWIRE.
If I can do this, then you can do that.
ABOUT THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
- Chris Gardner's memoir, a New York Times and Washington Post #1 Bestseller
- Critically acclaimed and award-winning 2006 film featuring Will Smith
The Pursuit of Happyness
At the age of twenty, Milwaukee native Chris Gardner, just out of the Navy, arrived in San Francisco to pursue a promising career in medicine. Considered a prodigy in scientific research, he surprised everyone and himself by setting his sights on the competitive world of high finance. Yet no sooner had he landed an entry-level position at a prestigious firm than Gardner found himself caught in a web of incredibly challenging circumstances that left him as part of the city's working homeless and with a toddler son. Motivated by the promise he made to himself as a fatherless child to never abandon his own children, the two spent almost a year moving among shelters, "HO-tels," soup lines, and even sleeping in the public restroom of a subway station.
Never giving in to despair, Gardner made an astonishing transformation from being part of the city's invisible poor to being a powerful player in its financial district.
More than a memoir of Gardner's financial success, this is the story of a man who breaks his own family's cycle of men abandoning their children. Mythic, triumphant, and unstintingly honest, The Pursuit of Happyness conjures heroes like Horatio Alger and Antwone Fisher, and appeals to the very essence of the American Dream.
Permission to Dream
On a winter’s day, Chris Gardner set off with his nine-year-old granddaughter Brooke to find the harmonica of her dreams. The search sends them North “beyond the wall” into a foreboding Chicago neighborhood and, soon, on a harrowing adventure that will change both of their lives—and ours.
Chris is still mourning the loss of his girlfriend to brain cancer. Her question haunts him: “Now that we know how short life can be, what will you do with the time you have left?” After five years, he feels an urgency—what he calls, “Atomic Time” in which every second counts—to find an answer, but is stuck. Even while giving Brooke permission to aspire to one day become President of the United States, he knows it’s time to reclaim his own permission to dream.
Lost, Chris and his granddaughter board a bus, reminding him of earlier rides through dark times when dreams of a better life kept him alive. As the two wind through a changing cityscape, Chris reflects on past lessons that offer powerful guidance for dreaming your way to monumental success.
At its heart, this book lays out a blueprint for building a dream-come-true life—even during uncertainty. Gardner delivers the secrets to achieving a prosperous career—from a method for identifying your ultimate dream to a playbook for becoming world class at it. His tools include the “new 3 R’s”—or the Rep, the Rap and the Rolodex—which reveal how to earn a stellar reputation, develop a rap for marketing yourself, and amass a Rolodex of rewarding relationships. No matter how much wealth you achieve, Chris notes, true success comes from enriching the lives of others—so all can still have access to the American Dream.
Toward the end, Brooke observes that in Atomic Time it’s never too late for anyone to reinvent themselves and change their fortune. Chris, hearing her, realizes what his next pursuit will be—to go back to high school and give permission to dream to the next generation of problem solvers and change makers.
Past Voices of Vision presenters include:
- 2023: Marcus Luttrell
- 2022: Mike Rowe
- 2021: Admiral William McRaven
- 2019: Peyton Manning
- 2018: Danica Patrick
- 2017: Shaquille O'Neal
- 2016: Robert O'Neil
- 2015: Rudy Giuliani
- 2014: Terry Bradshaw
- 2013: Jeb Bush
- 2012: Joe Theismann
- 2011: Bob Woodward
- 2010: Lt. Col. Oliver North
Voices of Vision brings together people from all walks of life, political persuasions, age groups, career stages and industries to provoke thought and community conversations. We thank our sponsors and community businesses for their continued investment in this event and for enabling The Chamber to bring these leaders to our community.
Members of the public who do not have a Chamber login can register as a non-member.
$65 Stadium Seating - Chamber members
$75 Stadium Seating - General public & not-yet members
$85 Walk-in pricing, day of event - dependent upon availability
GROUP TICKETS, TABLES, SPONSORSHIP & VISIBILITY OPPORTUNITIES
Please contact Darren Dunlop at email@example.com to learn all opportunities and to secure your sponsorship.
AdShark Marketing | Advanced Business Methods | Bank of North Dakota
Bethany Retirement Living | Bobcat Company | Border Bank
Building Industry Association of the Red River Valley | Cardinal IG
Cass County Electric Cooperative | Cornerstone Bank | D-S Beverages, Inc.
Dacotah Bank | EagleRidge Development | Eide Bailly LLP | First Western Bank & Trust
Fluid Interiors | Heartland Trust Company | High Point Networks | Light Consulting
Marsh McLennan Agency | Mengedoth Dental | Midco | Moore Holding Company
North Dakota State College of Science | Razor Consulting Solutions, Inc.
ROERS | Starion Bank | Titan Machinery
Town & Country Credit Union | Western State Bank