BEALE AIR FORCE BASE. Calif. --
In February, I was given the opportunity to go on a temporary duty assignment to
Silicon Valley to attend the Startup Grind Global Conference. The two-day conference
showcased entrepreneurs and technology experts from around the world who are
paving the way in the startup sector.
I go on, I want to go back to one word: Opportunity.
it was explained to me by a co-worker that opportunity can sometimes be a buzz
word, or another way of being “voluntold” to do something.
you can relate. Has there ever been a time when a friend or co-worker
approached you and said, “I’ve got a (insert volunteer, training or TDY here)
opportunity for you.”
was your first thought? Was it excitement and eagerness or was it self-doubt
it was the latter, this is for you.
there were many takeaways from the conference, I want to share three things I
learned from Marc Tarpenning, Tesla co-founder, that I hope will impact your
“Oh, I can do
recounted to the audience a moment in 2008 when Google showcased a self-driving
car. Up until that point, he wasn’t sure it could be done, but once he saw it,
his gut reaction was, “Oh, I could do that.”
challenged that sometimes you don’t think something is quite possible up until
the moment somebody else does it. After that, it all sort of makes sense.
husband and I are both trained photojournalists by Air Force Specialty Code and
had dreamed of starting our own wedding photography business. We always had a
reason not to start one, whether it just wasn’t the right time or we didn’t
have enough money. We attended a wedding last summer and had the opportunity to
watch the photographer work throughout the day, and it was after that day that
we both had our, “Oh, I can do that,” moment.
single moment of empowerment was all it took for us to dedicate ourselves to
our passion. Now, not only are we accomplishing personal goals, but it has
helped us tenfold in becoming better photographers for the Air Force.
was your moment of realization? Do you have one? If not, I would challenge you
to find your passion.
Be an expert
next point Tarpenning made was to know your craft better than anyone else. He worked
with Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk and said it was easy to work for
him as long as you could always explain the why and how behind things.
we don’t dedicate ourselves to an opportunity, a job or a goal, we only
shortchange ourselves, he said, adding that we often make assumptions for why
we can’t do things, which are sometimes valid, but sometimes they aren’t.
all familiar with the excuse, “Well, we’ve always done it this way.”
you become versed in your field, these assumptions will slowly disappear and
allow you to not only avoid mistakes, but make improvements.
last bit of wisdom was to think big. He said entrepreneurs go looking for
problems. However, I don’t think it only applies to entrepreneurs, but to
anyone across any part of their life. It doesn’t mean to walk around your
workplace and nitpick every small thing, but to ask if the problem you’re
solving has meaning. If you look for meaningful problems and find impactful
solutions, you can begin to impart change in a big way.
Startup Grind Global Conference was one of the most refreshing experiences I’ve
had in a long time. Getting to network and learn from others outside of my
field of expertise was invaluable, and it’s the type of event that Airmen can
always be on the lookout for to take advantage of on a local scale.
next time someone offers you an opportunity, remember to never write yourself
off, find a part of it to be passionate about and become an expert in, and
think big. Opportunity is a state of mind. You never know when that next
“opportunity” could inspire you to create something special, or what some may
even deem impossible, like electric-powered cars.
Even if you don’t want
to be the next co-founder of Tesla, there is always room for growth and
mentorship. To quote a line in one of my favorite movies, “Mean Girls,” “The limit does not