If you’re having a hard day, read Woman Entrepreneur Ping Fu’s story. She has had an intense journey from Chinese Exile to Inc Entrepreneur of the Year. In the last month, she sold her 3D Printing Company, Geomagic, and has now been thrown into new headwinds.
“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” – Bruce Lee
BEND DON’T BREAK
China’s Cultural Revolution began when Ping Fu was 8. Her parents were sent for ‘re-education’ and she was left to look after her 4 year old sister. As Ping says, “Father and mother were taken to a local concentration camp. They were screaming my name. Then they disappeared.”
When soldiers threw Ping’s little sister in a pond to drown, she jumped in to save her, and the soldiers punished her by beating and raping her. She was 10.
Ping was forced to work and study in factories for 10 years, missing a school education. When the Cultural Revolution ended, as a university student Ping publicised the Chinese government’s killing of baby girls. She was forced to leave the country for the US with $80.
On arriving in the US at age 25, she was kidnapped for 3 days by a Vietnamese man who she met at the airport, before Police were called, and she was delivered to the University of New Mexico in a police squad car. With little English, she worked as a babysitter and cleaning lady to pay for her university degree in computer science.
As she says, “You get caught in a traffic jam and that’s a bad day? Put it in perspective.” With her memories of how hard things had been, she says “There aren’t many bad days here in comparison.”
In 1991, when Ping was 32, a friend came to her with a problem – How to digitally compute spaces in 3D? Ping remembered a Chinese Proverb “The empty space with a cup is what makes the cup useful.” She worked out the equations to shape the empty space with her husband, and in the process came across the new concept of 3D printing.
She got excited by what 3D printing could achieve in printing personalised products. As she recalls: “We’ll call it the Personal Factory,” “I told Mike Facello, (one of her first employees). “It’s intuitive. People already know the PC. Now we’ll have the PF.” “Cute, Ping,” he observed. “You’ve managed to name an industry after your own initials.”
FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS
The ‘Aha’ moment for her new business came from a dream that day, which went back to her childhood: “I was possessed by the idea of revolutionizing the manufacturing process, just as Henry Ford once had with his invention of the assembly line. That night when I fell asleep, I had a dream about the years I’d spent in factories in China.”
“I awoke the next morning with visions of spinning parts and shining metal floating through my head. I found that I could recall details about those years that I hadn’t been able to for decades. I thought to myself, No wonder I came up with the “personal factory” idea for my business. Working in factories had ingrained not just the knowledge but also the visceral experience of manufacturing into my brain and body.
A LUXURY YOU CAN’T AFFORD: THE LUXURY OF DOUBT
Her company, Geomagic, launched, and her first printed product was a Pikachu Doll. But times were tough. In 2000, the money they had raised had run out, the tech bubble had burst, and Ping had the choice of closing Geomagic or battling it out. As she says: “All of my instincts kicked in,” she says. “In a crisis mode, you lose all self-doubt – at least I do. I couldn’t afford the luxury of doubt.”
She decided to focus at the dental industry with custom-fit crowns, and signed a $1.8m deal that saved the company. From there, the company and her success gradually took off. In 2005 she became Inc Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2010 Obama selected her to join his National Advisory Council for Entrepreneurship. In early 2013, she sold Geomagic and published her memoirs “Bend not Break”.
The book, which shares her story, is getting heavy criticism from Chinese critics for its portrayal of China. She is being called a liar, interested only in self-promotion. How does she counter her ongoing challenges? By recalling her grand father:
“Shanghai Papa told me “There are three friends of winter: the pine tree, the plum blossom, and bamboo: Pine trees are strong. They remain happy and green throughout the year. In the unbearable heat of summer and the severe cold of winter, they stand unperturbed.””
“”The crimson petals of the plum blossom gleam brilliantly against the white snow. The ability to bloom in the midst of misfortune suggests dignity and forbearance under harsh circumstances.” Shanghai Papa then walked over to a grove of bamboo. “This is the third friend of winter. Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back from even the most difficult times.”
Shanghai Papa smiled and continued, “The Taoists understand that there can be no summer without winter, no ups without downs, no growth without decay. Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. When you are like the three friends of winter, you take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.”
When you look at the pressures on you today. Will you be the pine, the plum blossom or the bamboo? Will you bend or break? Take a tip from Ping, and remember that, whatever the winter, spring is just around the corner.
Keep Making Magic,
Fast Forward your Business 2013
We are 1 week out from starting our Australia Fast Forward your Business Tour 2013. If you haven’t registered yet, then do so now as the early bird offer ends soon.
At the event, you’ll discover how to, by implementing certain strategies that are right for your specific business and utilizing some of the latest technologies available today, accelerate your business to the top of your industry.
At this event you will also learn:
What the TOP 10 Trends for 2013 will be.
Which of the trends in 2012 have already been surpassed by more effective technology.
Where you should be focusing your attention to achieve maximum return in 2013, based on your specific business and industry.
The most effective business models that are working today and are different to the ones even just 12 months ago.
The very latest innovations at the cutting edge (Roger has just returned from Silicon Valley with some amazing updates).
A clear plan on what to do, what not to do, and what to change to get a 10x increase in results in your business.
What you can do today to build your GLOBAL business simpler than it may even be to continue growing your current local business.
You’ll be connecting with some really influential people from all areas of industry in your area who are on similar path to you, people who are focused on making one heck of a difference in their business, the people they work with and the community around them.
Make sure you book yourself in now and secure your place
Click here to see what people have to say about FFyB
Trust Conference by Talent Dynamics
Roger Hamilton booked as one of the keynote speakers at the worlds first Trust Conference in the UK September 10th.
Last few days to get launch price tickets- available until 28th February!
Join Roger at the worlds first ever Trust Conference, hosted by our sister company, Talent Dynamics.
The conference will show you why the most trusted companies are continuously out performing their competitors, by as much as 10X. It will demystify how you measure the level of Trust you currently are able to generate and how you can raise Trust levels significantly. Practical strategies from the most trusted companies which you can apply to your company or clients directly.
Stephen MR Covey best selling author of the Speed of Trust will be delivering a 3 hour workshop on Trust in Organisations along with a host of other industry experts.
Join Roger, Stephen and others on the 10th September.
There are just a few days left to get the early bird Launch price tickets along with over $450 of bonus products when you book. Book now before the 28th February to get early bird launch priced tickets!
The Greenest School on Earth to visit Australia
World-renowned Green School in Bali to hold events in Melbourne and Perth in March
Representatives from Green School in Bali, recently awarded “Greenest School on Earth” by the Center for Green Schools at the United States Green Building Council, will host community information nights in Melbourne and Perth in March. With a mission to educate the planet’s future green leaders, Green School has attracted worldwide attention since opening in 2008. Green School’s information nights will take place in Melbourne on March 19 and Perth on March 22.
The world-renowned Green School in Bali has a student body of preschool through high school students comprised of 20% Australians, with hundreds of Australians visiting the school each year for tours and Green Camps. The school offers a natural, holistic, student-centered learning environment that empowers and inspires students to be creative, innovative green leaders. The events in Melbourne and Perth will provide several ways Australian students, parents and teachers can join Green School’s mission and get involved with programs to take place both in Australia and Bali in 2013.
For more information and registration click here.
Ping Fu, CEO of GeoMagic on her journey
Ping Fu is fast becoming one of America’s most celebrated female entrepreneurs, not just because the tech company she founded is revolutionising the manufacturing process in the digital age, but also because her own life story represents a triumph over long odds. She was just eight years old when her life was turned upside down by Mao’s cultural revolution. She endured years of abuse before being thrown out of China. Three decades later she is an adviser to President Obama on innovation. What lessons lie behind this extraordinary journey?