Chris Gardner, the inspiration behind Will Smith’s hit movie The Pursuit of Happyness, has told a business gathering in Sydney that innovation is commonly stifled by naysayers and inadequate planning.
Mr Gardner, the American man made famous by his rags-to-riches story as a homeless single father of a toddler who became a wealthy Wall Street stockbroker, spoke today at the World Business Forum on how people in business and in everyday life should give less credence to negativity and doubt than they commonly do.
“Everybody's got a dream – what's your plan? When you talk about doing something you are truly passionate about, there is no Plan B ... Plan B sucks. If Plan B was any good, it would be Plan A. Plan B distracts from Plan A,” he said.
“And the most important components of a plan [are] something I call the 'C-5 complex': your plan has got to be clear, concise, compelling, consistent and committed. You’ve got to have a plan.”
According to Mr Gardner, no matter the detail of that plan, it should involve the goal of becoming world class in your given field.
“I heard Dr Martin Luther King speak one night; as a matter of fact, it was the night before he was assassinated,” he recalled.
“He was talking to a group of municipal employees in the city of Memphis: garbage men. I believe his exact words were, 'Whatever you are going to do with your life, you should seek to become world class. And if you're going to be a garbage man, you should seek to become a world class garbage man'.”
Mr Gardner then went on to define what success and becoming world class means in the world of business:
“When the conversation is being held about who is the best in the business, somebody has got to say your name or the name of your company. Same conversation: who is the best in the business? If nobody says your name, you've got work to do. Same conversation: who is the best in the business? If nobody says your name and you don't care, get out of the business – you'll never be any good!
“But the ultimate validation is that same conversation: who is the best in the business? It's when somebody who does not like you says your name. That's when you'll know, 'I'm good'.”