I first met Ping Fu at Springboard Enterprises, the growth accelerator that teaches women to raise venture capital. She presented her company, GeoMagic, an imaging and 3D printing company for growth capital headquartered in Morrisville, NC. She intrigued me enormously as one of a legion of immigrants coming to this country believing in the American dream and living it.
At first, I didn't know that much about her background, but the stories of her harsh childhood crept out little by little as her story unfolded over the course of the next several years. Separated from both her birth parents and her Shanghai parents at the age of 8, Ping was sent to a culture education camp along with her 4-year old sister Hong. Two young children separated from the only family they had known and thrown into the shocking world of the Red Guard. Children were less than animals to them. Yet Ping had to learn to survive.
Remembering the lessons of Shanghai Papa, the "three friends of winter" -- the pine tree, plum blossom and bamboo, Ping kept close to her heart his warmth and caring as he shared with her the lessons of how to face any situation in life with dignity and survive -- bend, not break -- was the wisdom that guided her through.
Ping shares with her readers a remarkable life of hardship, despair, hope and survival as she takes us through her childhood, her expulsion from China to arrive in the U.S. speaking no English. Her first encounters were of people with generous assistance. It confounded her that people could actually help a total stranger. But her trails here were just beginning.
What resonated with me as I turned each page was how open Ping was about her feelings through all these personal challenges. The ability to stay focused on her authentic self is what intrigues me about her style as CEO of GeoMagic. Through every challenge, she has run an open book with employees, which has been much of the fuel that carried the company through early difficult development to be a leader in 3D imaging and printing.
Ping's book, Bend, Not Break, is a road map of courage, persistence, flexibility and compassion that has led her to star status among technology CEO's . Always curious and never daunted, Ping surprised many recently when she sold her company to 3D Systems Corp, taking on the strategic development role. She wants to have time to focus on leading the manufacturing industry to a rebirth in America by deploying new 3D technology.
One thing I learned about Ping. If she has a goal, she will not be deterred by any obstacles.