I’m accumulating new experiences left and right. Last week Aubrey Cattell from Cooley Godward took me to my first NHL hockey game at the Colorado Avalanche rink. It was lots of fun — you can’t beat $150 seats, cheap stadium food, and stock option conversation to the background of cross checks and other hockey maneuvers.
But Monday took the cake — I spent all day with Paul Berberian, an extremely successful entrepreneur here in Boulder, at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Paul is an alumnus and was visiting several business classes to talk about how to come up with the right business idea.
It was my first time on a military base surrounded by 4,000+ people in uniform.Since Paul and I were escorted by staff, we could walk around and get up close. Initially I was intimidated — the freshmen who had to walk on certain lines in the courtyards and only turn at 90 degree angles, the memorial stones commentarting air force graduates killed in battle, the huge aircraft on display. The highlight of our day — other than Paul’s speech, of course — was the lunch hour. All 4,000 cadets lined up by squadron and, to the background of the band, marched into the dining hall.
Serving lunch to 4,000 cadets is an excellent microcosm for the most awe inspiring feat of the U.S. military: logistics. I can’t begin to comprehend how hundreds of thousands of people and millions of dollars worth of equipment are moved around the world so efficiently.
Prior to visiting the student classes I didn’t think entrepreneurship would be part of the culture. When I think of military, I think of bureaucracy and authority, not creativity and thinking different. But, it does seem like an experimental subculture can exist within the boundaries of the formal education. The students had some interesting business ideas.
It’s not an easy place to walk around in if you’re a pacifist. In one of the dormitories, there was a quote which said something to the effect of, "Those who say there’s nothing worse than war are wrong." The military imagery is omnipresent.
But by the end of the day, I felt patriotic: the caliber of the students is very high and their dedication to the country is pure. It’s an outstanding institution. Thanks, Paul, for bringing me along!
4 comments on “A Day With the U.S. Air Force”
The US Army War College – http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ – stresses creative and original thought. Since we live in a ‘VUCA’ (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world, our military leaders need to think on their feet. This is one reason you see so many businesses (like the consulting firms) hiring ex-military personnel.
You forgot to mention that the cadets were more interested in your story than mine – they couldn’t believe a 14 year old high school student could start a software company and make money. You planted the seed – they could start a business in their free time even though they are in the USAF. Thanks for coming on the road trip I’m glad you enjoyed your time.
Now the real question: did you visit the chapel?
I did – it was lovely!