Tuesday, October 24, 2006

PDMA 2006 – Day 2 Lunchtime Keynote, Ping Fu

Ping Fu opened with a promise: A lunchtime keynote speaker is supposed to add some spice to your meal.

I, for one, thought she really delivered on that promise.

Ping’s story was truly inspiring. She endured the hardships of the Chinese Cultural Revolution including having her parents taken away from her and having to raise her 4-year-old sister. She was exiled from China for political reasons and sent to the US where, although she only started out knowing 3 words and carrying $85, she managed to earn a second degree in computer science and land a job at the NCSA. There she worked with super computers and gave Marc Andreesen encouragement to work on the web browser that led to the founding of Netscape. Later in life she founded a really interesting company called Geomagic that can take a 3-D image of an object and enable you to re-create that same object. Think of a 3-dimensional equivalent to the photocopier. Although it can’t be used to fax a pizza, Geomagic has some very compelling value propositions involving things like engine turbine rotor blade replacement where an exact replica is needed to keep costs down in the financially challenged airline industry.

I was inspired by her stories of needing to learn that she had to take responsibility, even when she didn’t have the experience to know what to do. Like when she raised VC money but didn’t know how to spend it and found out that the executives she had hired who should have known how to spend it ended up wasting it. She was able to recognize that she had the power and ability inside to take that responsibility even though she didn’t have the experience. Perhaps this draws from some of her experience as an 8 year old having to grow up quickly and take responsibility for her younger sister.

This will be my last post on PDMA 2006. I hope my efforts and memorializing the sessions I attended have been helpful to some of you. If you would like to debate anything, I welcome you to post your comments online. You know I don’t usually put much thought into stuff I put on blogs. It’s supposed to be that way to encourage naïve thinking that can lead us to new ideas. I know a lot of people who read blogs are intimidated to say something, but if you feel that way just know that it is supposed to be a free-form, casual setting and you can let your guard down a little (or a lot).

I’d appreciate any introductions to great Product Marketing professionals who’d be interested in working for an exciting startup in Silicon Valley.


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