My journey to Stanford - Stanford IGNITE, part 1

Stanford IGNITE is a certificate program in entrepreneurship and innovation developed by Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. The primary target for the course is post graduate students working on master’s degrees or PHDs from the graduate schools at Stanford who want to learn how to commercialize the ideas from their research.

A few years back USSOCOM reached out to the school to find out if they would hold a course for veterans to prepare them for transitioning out of the service. The school accepted and holds one veterans course each year. The full-time program costs $14,000 and the school offers a $12,000 scholarship for accepted veterans.

I heard about the program from someone who attended the course last year and highly recommended it. After investigating, I learned the program also focuses on preparing intrapreneurs to launch projects from within their organizations. This was something I wanted to learn more about in order to foster a culture of creative problem solving in my unit. I jumped at the chance to apply and learn from a school that is world renowned for being on the vanguard of thought leadership in this area.

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A little bit about me. I am a Mission Operations Chief stationed at Beale Air Force Base, CA. responsible for leading teams of analysts during intelligence missions. My role is to provide leadership and cultivate a culture of creative problem solving focused on the war fighter’s problems. I also strive to be a catalyst for innovation and lead working-groups of Airmen to answer questions regarding how we can better serve our customers.

I wanted to learn more about driving innovative ideas from conception to implementation. This is especially important in the military as we thrive on members improving the way we conduct operations. However, coming up with ideas is often the easy part. Spend time with any group of military members and they will tell you their pain points and frustrations about processes they deal with every day. Ask them what they would do to change things and they have many great ideas because they are the subject matter experts in their fields. You will also usually get a sigh and a small chuckle as they explain that in a top down organizational culture, like the military, ideas don’t often get implemented from the people lower in the chain of command. Yet that is where the rubber meets the road and their unique perspectives can really formulate solutions that are needed.

I want to be a champion for their ideas, help them overcome obstacles, care and nurture their projects and watch them grow! This is the way the military will need to operate in the 21st century as we transition from the industrial age and move into the information age. My people have unprecedented access to information and learning opportunities. They are smart and care about making improvements. They need a leader who can champion their cause and I want to be that champion.

I had already completed the Air Force's professional military education for my rank so I was eager to apply for something that would further my professional development. I had to submit an application and two letters of recommendation. A little while later, I received an email regarding the second phase of application, a video interview. I was told this was a good sign and reached out to someone who I knew that attended the course last year as well as a friend who had separated from the Air Force and attended the Stanford MBA school for advice. After a few weeks of waiting and wondering I received the following email:

Dear Mike Green,

Congratulations! I am pleased to inform you of your admission to the Stanford Ignite - Post-9/11 Veterans program to be held at the Stanford Graduate School of Business from June 24 to July 18, 2018. In the most competitive applicant pool to date, we received a record number of applications from many highly qualified individuals with a wide variety of backgrounds and interests. We hope this program will truly be a rich experience for all participants.

Feel free to contact me with any questions and congratulations once again on your acceptance!

Kind Regards,


Associate Director                                                                                                                  Stanford Graduate School of Business