An amazing story about an even more amazing go-getter, a 24-year-old woman named Danielle Fong, is over at wired.com. You might want to check out her blog, too. When her mother, Trudy Fong, recognized Danielle's brilliance and took her out of school at the tender age of 12 (TWELVE!) to have her attend college, she broke "the rules" big time. But Trudy was ok with it, because that's what she herself did at the tender age of 15. Amazing noodles (aka brains) apparently run in the family.
Danielle is now the chief scientist and co-founder of a company called Lightsail Energy. She's focused on storing energy using compressed air. The technology isn't new; it's been around for decades. But her methods have doubled the efficiency. This young woman is someone to keep your eyes on. I think she'll play a big part in changing the landscape of energy.
What I find most amazing is not how smart she is. We hear about people like this all the time. What amazes me is her tenacity. Her unwillingness to give up, even when the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, "turned them away, saying she and her team were unfit to manage a company, that the idea wouldn’t work anyway, and that her air compressor would likely explode." Chutzpah, in spades. Danielle, you have a grey-haired admirer in Kansas who's cheering you on!
"If you have your own resources and have a real effort, it doesn't matter what the rest of the world thinks, in its knee-jerk, fight-or-flight response."
I realize we don't all have her IQ (at least I sure as hell don't), but that's only a small part of it. It's the work behind the idea—the effort! What could you attempt, what could you reach for, if you just reached a little further, and gave it a little more effort? Think what you could achieve, just by taking that first step.
Speaking of a first step—that reminds me of a story! When I first started thinking about giving talks, I had some some vague ideas, but never having spoken professionally (I don't count debate or forensics in high school), I really didn't know where to begin. One day, I was standing by an escalator in a crowded food court, waiting on a friend who was meeting me for lunch. I was spacing off, staring at the escalator but not really seeing it. Coming down the escalators was a mom with four young children. Three of the older kids stepped onto the escalator first, then Mom. But the littlest girl stood at the top, unsure what to do. You could see it on her face, she was very afraid. Those were big, moving, metal stairs—with teeth!
About halfway down, Mom noticed Daughter wasn’t coming down. Mom turned around and started walking back up the escalator. But of course, she didn’t get very far—she was walking up a down escalator. She kept saying, “Just take a step. Just take a step. Just take a step.” This entire scenario took just a few seconds.
I had been zoning, only vaguely aware of the family on the escalator. The mom got louder and louder, “Just take a step! Just take a step!!!” It was as if she were speaking directly to me! Oh, ME?! Just take a step? Ok! I took that one first step, gained momentum, and the people around me cheered me on. Who, around you, is already cheering you on, just waiting for you to take that first step? The escalator isn’t going to bite, just take a step!
Thanks for reading!
Good juju-spreader, storyteller, graphic designer. I'd love to hear from you!