I n his book “The Coming Jobs War,” Gallup CEO Jim Clifton paints a bleak economic picture for the United States if we do not find ways to create “good” jobs – millions of them – in the near term. Clifton points to a combination of factors – international competition, inadequate public education, and government policies that stifle entrepreneurship, to name a few– that contribute to a decline in gross domestic product and, subsequently, meaningful, full-time jobs. Without addressing these concerns, he warns, America will continue to witness the erosion of its global economic authority. The United States, he writes, is in danger of “turning into one big Detroit.” Clifton offers several prescriptions for avoiding this economic devolution, touching on issues such as health care costs and high school dropout rates, but he focuses on a solution that is directly aligned with the vision of the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network: fostering entrepreneurship. He defines entrepreneurs as “that rare talent to start companies or to create business models that work, that grow organizations – big ones, small ones, medium-sized ones, sustainable ones.” There is an equal need for “intrapreneurs,” or those who “work inside companies and are the brains and energy behind creating customers.” They, in turn, stimulate “the miracle of quality GDP growth and authentic job creation.” In a chapter titled “Entrepreneurship vs. Innovation,” Clifton goes out of his way to stress the distinction between the two. The United States has an oversupply of innovation and creativity, he argues. Many innovations fail to give customers what they want and end up gathering dust on a shelf. The “almighty entrepreneur,” in contrast, is “the person who envisions a value and a customer and then creates a business model and strategy that create sales and profit.” “It’s far better to invest in entrepreneurial people than in great ideas,” he concludes. Engineers, and the companies they work for, often learn this distinction the hard way. A Chicago business called RF IDeas, founded by two bright and industrious engineers, came up with a brilliant innovation in the late 1990s: a badge that would turn on or shut down a physician’s computer when he or she walked into the office. The badge would both save time and secure patient data. Doctors, investors, and even the media praised the innovation. The company was flying high – until the badges went to market and no one was buying. It turned out that physicians did not want to deal with another badge, the sensors could not differentiate between doctors, and computers turned on when badge wearers were merely passing by. Company founders Rick Landuyt and Greg Gliniecki realized their great idea was not enough and scrambled to get the product aligned with customer desires before the business went under. The Economic Necessity of the Entrepreneurial Mindset 4