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Motivational Speaker Chris Gardner Hosts Inspiring Virtual Session For Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, the American businessman and philanthropist offered advice for how to cope with the current COVID-19 global pandemic

The motivational speaker Chris Gardner, whose inspiring life story was adapted into the hit Hollywood movie The Pursuit of Happyness, hosted the latest Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) Virtual Session on Sunday evening.

The presentation, organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), saw Gardner offer advice into ways to cope with the challenges of the current global health crisis.

With the 30th edition of ADIBF being postponed until next year, guests who were scheduled to appear at the Fair have instead presented their talks remotely, allowing viewers to watch from the safety of their own homes.

Speaking from his house in the USA, Gardner described how the COVID-19 pandemic meant we all had to make a “hard pivot” in our lives, meaning doing things we would never have chosen to do before.

He described how he overcame a host of challenges – such as being abandoned by his mother, growing up in foster care, suffering from domestic violence, being a single parent, and struggling with homelessness – to eventually become a successful stockbroker and entrepreneur.

“We may be in different places – geographically, politically, socially, mentally, or spiritually – but chronologically we’re all living in the same space,” he said. “It must be very frightening to have to make some of the decisions we make right now, but the truth of the matter is you don’t have a choice. It’s a hard pivot, you have to do this.

“You have to commit to going forward, and knowing that we as a species – human beings, Homo sapiens, the family called humanity – have been here before. Whatever challenges came before us as a species, we’ve climbed this mountain before and now we have to climb it one more time.”

He ended his presentation by urging listeners to act as “global citizens” by asking themselves every day “what can I do to help someone else and not ask for anything in return?”

Gardner published his autobiography The Pursuit of Happyness in 2006, which inspired the film of the same name starring Will Smith. Gardner has since become a successful motivational speaker and philanthropist, sponsoring a number of charities that help homeless people. An Arabic translation of his autobiography was published last year.

Previous ADIBF Virtual Sessions included ones with Anthony Geffen, the documentary maker and Virtual Reality expert; Annabel Karmel, the renowned children’s cookbook author; Korky Paul, the illustrator of the multi-million selling Winnie and Wilbur series; and Nick Arnold, the author of the Horrible Science children’s books.

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