Commentary

June 28, 2013

Entrepreneurial talent found throughout military

Capt. RAYMOND FUNKE
56th Medical Support Squadron

When you think of an entrepreneur, perhaps an individual such as Henry Ford, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, or even the owner of your favorite local small business comes to mind. Quite often we think of entrepreneurs as men and women in the private sector who forge ahead on their own, armed with a dream, a plan and a bit of capital. Despite ample examples to the contrary, we tend not to envision entrepreneurs as men and women in the ranks of the military and government.

One example of entrepreneurship in the U.S. Air Force is Gen. Curtis LeMay. LeMay was a great strategic thinker who developed American bombing strategy against Japan in World War II. After the war ended, he used his entrepreneurial talents to take Strategic Air Command from a few disjointed B-29 bombing groups into a jet-powered force with the ability to strike globally. Upon assuming command from Gen. George Kenney, the force had less than half its bombers operational, and training was virtually nonexistent. When he left, SAC was a force with high morale, high readiness and at the vanguard of technology.

While not a comprehensive list of skills, LeMay’s career illustrates that an Airman can begin to develop an entrepreneurial mindset if he begins with these skills: be an owner, know your weaknesses, and seek and exploit opportunities.

The trait most identified with entrepreneurship is “ownership.” The fledgling business owner will find himself wearing multiple hats, performing multiple disparate tasks, and concerning him or herself with all aspects of the business. After taking command of SAC, LeMay found himself in an organization that didn’t have much focus or much of a reason for being. In taking ownership of SAC, LeMay involved himself in all aspects of the organization. He built new bases, approved development programs for new jet engine and space technologies, and refined training requirements for cold-war deterrence. He concerned himself with the morale of his Airmen by encouraging programs such as sports car races on SAC bases, and performing spot-promotions as a reward for good performance. Everything in SAC bore the fingerprints of LeMay. By involving themselves in all duties and aspects of their section, the entrepreneurial Airman learns to take ownership of the processes required for their unit’s success.

No entrepreneur encompasses the talent, knowledge or capacity to excel at all parts of the business. There will always be some aspect of business in which the entrepreneur is lacking. Successful entrepreneurs understand their weaknesses and seek out complementary individuals who possess the skills required to perform tasks successfully. At the onset of the Berlin Airlift, LeMay was charged by Gen. Lucius Clay to fly supplies into Berlin. Though he initially started those flights, he realized his limitations in the area of logistics and brought in Lt. Gen. William Tunner to successfully perform the mission. By understanding your own limitations, the entrepreneurial Airman seeks out the counsel of others and, if in a position to do so, brings complementary people into their organization and places them in positions that maximize their talents.

An entrepreneur, by definition, is an opportunist. These are the individuals most likely to create a fundamental shift in the way business is done. Bill Gates saw a need for an operating system that could be used in the burgeoning desktop computing environment. Thirty-five years later, Microsoft is the global leader in software for business applications.

LeMay was an opportunist. He also was a licensed amateur radio operator. It was his knowledge gained in the field of amateur radio that allowed him to see the advantages of the single sideband radio over amplitude modulation radio and apply this technology to SAC aircraft. This allowed for an increase in power and bandwidth of radio transmissions without the increase in weight or energy requirements. The entrepreneurial Airman seeks out opportunities to exploit information from other areas of his life by applying them to his job or unique situation.

While this is by no means a comprehensive list of entrepreneurial skills Airmen can develop to become more successful in their careers nor is LeMay the only example of entrepreneurship in the Air Force, it is a starting point for Airmen to develop their own entrepreneurial ways of thinking. Not only will entrepreneurial Airmen find their skills will benefit them in their military careers, but they will be better prepared for that inevitable transition from military life to the civilian workforce.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Mentoring fosters dreams, strengthens us

A few days ago while reading an online commander’s call, I came across an article dated Dec. 31, 2014, stating President Obama proclaimed the month of January 2015 National Mentoring Month. Although this topic is thoroughly discussed in our Air Force today, I felt compelled to write on its importance all the same. In a...
 
 

Have you joined the Air Force yet?

I enlisted into the Air Force in February of 1997. However, I didn’t join the Air Force until March of 1999. No, I’m not talking about the Delayed Enlistment Program. There was no doubt that after high school I would attend college. However, not having applied for any scholarships and realizing that I didn’t have...
 
 

TRICARE revises drug coverage for safety, use

WASHINGTON — Starting May 1, Express Scripts, the TRICARE pharmacy contractor, will screen all ingredients in compound drug claims to ensure they are safe and effective, and covered by TRICARE. This screening process is like the one TRICARE already uses for other prescription drugs, but it will now apply to the ingredients in compound drugs....
 

 
WHM

Chaplain’s thoughts …

  March is Women’s History Month. In honor of that I searched for some notable quotes by significant women for this article. I began my search in a rather old-school way; flipping pages in my “1001 Pearls of Spiritual ...
 
 
fo_LL

Fly Over: ‘LL COOL J’s PLATINUM WORKOUT’ and ‘Chappie′

In stores: ‘LL COOL J’s PLATINUM WORKOUT’ “Mama said, knock you out!” ~ LL Cool J LL Cool J is an award-winning hip hop artist whose songs have been heard all across the world. He has hosted the “Grammys” numerous...
 
 

Bring ‘invisible class’ into view

When I was a young boy, my father explained to me that there was dignity in work. He told me to always respect the worker regardless of how thankless or menial their job may appear to be. He said that you never know the burdens a person may be carrying, or the family members that...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin