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The War for Jobs Comes Home: A Conversation with Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup, Author of The Coming Jobs War, and Preview Las Vegas Keynote

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Jim Clifton

“What the whole world wants is a good job,” states Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup, in his bestselling book, The Coming Jobs War. Jobs power economic creation, as well as destruction, and many of the answers to our community’s most immediate and pressing issues lie within the scope of creating good jobs. Clifton, a wealth of comprehensive and alarming data, will lay out what business and community leaders in America and Las Vegas must do to emerge victorious in the war for jobs during his keynote address at the Metro Chamber’s flagship annual conference and trade show event, Preview Las Vegas, on Friday, January 24.

The Metro Chamber engaged Clifton for a Q & A to introduce what he will be discussing at Preview Las Vegas and give some insight into why good jobs are the linchpin of our economic future and what we can do on a local level to create opportunities, overcome our deficiencies, and definitively win the war for jobs.

BV: What is the coming jobs war, and why is it critical for us to pay attention to it now?

JC: The will of the world has changed over the last generation. What the whole world wants is a good job.

There are 7 billion citizens on earth; 5 billion adults, of whom 3 billion tell the Galllup World Poll their primary need and dream is to have a good job. Gallup defines a good job as one with 30+ hours of consistent work, with a paycheck from a real organization. The problem is that there are only 1.2 billion “good jobs" on earth — so the war will be over the 1.5+ billion shortfall.

BV: How is this approach different from the status quo?

JC: As of today, every leader everywhere in the world needs to consider creating good jobs within every decision. Oil, borders, religion, climate change, and controlling nuclear proliferation are all important but they are not top of mind to the world's citizens.

BV: What will happen to those who ignore the jobs war?

JC: Suffering, insolvency, instability, and eventually rioting and revolution.

BV: Why should business leaders focus on job creation right now?

JC: I don’t think it is smart to ask business leaders to focus on job creation. Business leaders were put on earth to create customers, not jobs — jobs follow customers, not the other way around. City, state, and national political leaders and lawmakers have this backward. They need to make decisions based on helping 6 million American companies win customers, not hire more employees. They have the cause and effect backward.

BV: According to Gallup research, having a good job is the number one desire of the world. How is this significant to American leadership in the global economy, and what does this shift represent? What does it mean for Las Vegas?

JC: Cities that have great business environments like San Francisco/Silicon Valley, Austin or Nashville will be favored by migration patterns of the most talented people in the world. For Las Vegas to win, it has to become world famous for its “good job” opportunities, but first and foremost with the image of “the best place in the world to start and grow a business." Everything Las Vegas needs will follow that.

BV: How does job growth correlate with a business’ plan to gain new clients and create better customer experiences?

JC: When customers grow, business grows. When a business grows, it needs more employees. Too many leaders try to bypass the “customer step” and buy jobs with forced government ordered projects. This creates unnatural or pretend jobs, unsustainable jobs. Real job growth is created organically through entrepreneurs and rare business leaders.

BV: How does the proliferation of innovation factor into America’s global competitiveness and winning the jobs war? What steps can business and community leaders take to increase our output of invention and innovation?

JC: We need a lot of innovation. The point that almost all leaders miss is that innovation by itself has little to no value. An innovation has no value until an entrepreneur turns that innovation into a product or service that customers want to buy. An innovation needs a business model.

People ask me, "Aren’t innovation and entrepreneurship like the chicken and the egg?" No. They are like the cart and the horse — we can load the cart (innovation) until we are blue in the face, but until we have a horse(entrepreneurship) to pull it, it never goes anywhere.

BV: How does education fit into the outcome of the jobs war?

JC: America remains the best in the world at intellectual development. Even though education is failing in many big cities across the country, our top tier students are second to none in the world. If you are blessed with unusually high IQ in America, we will find you and give you a fantastic opportunity to develop. We excel at early identification of extreme intellectual strength and are the best in the world at accelerating and developing it. When it comes to the rare God-given talent of entrepreneurship, its development is left mostly to chance.

When we learn to find, educate, and develop entrepreneurs, make this as systematic and intentional as we do with IQ, we will rewin the world’s jobs war.

BV: You tout the importance of local tribal leaders – the self-organized, unelected group of stakeholders within a community – and the impact that they have had on cities throughout the world. How do these tribal leaders enact change within a community, and how can Las Vegas better empower and increase the number of its tribal leaders?

JC: Tribal leaders can get more done than political leaders when they get their strengths together. There is great variation of success across U.S. cities and it can always be explained best by talent and strategies and engagement of the local tribal leaders. Local tribal leadership engagement matters because they have more talent, money and drive per capita than the politicians and special interest groups. Unless tribal leaders are highly engaged, the city will fall to leadership by special interest groups.

BV: In your book, you stress the power of cities in creating good jobs, tackling major issues in education and healthcare, and generating environments where innovation can thrive. What are Las Vegas’ greatest strengths and weaknesses in doing its part to win the war on jobs and contribute to the continuation of American leadership in the global economy?

JC: Las Vegas is a great American city, world famous for entertainment and fun. It is also a city that appreciates rare and unusually talented entertainers like no other place in the world. Las Vegas is a great place to live, with affordable housing and never-ending outdoor activities. All of this contributes to one of the highest potential well-being environments in the world.

When Las Vegas is known for being the best place to build a company, I honestly believe that there are no limits to what the city could become — potentially the most important growth city in America and the world.

BV: What can Las Vegas do to increase its share of good jobs?

JC: Become a city famous to the whole world for being #1 in entertainment — and #1 for builders of great businesses.

BV: Why do we want to be a leader in the jobs war?

JC: You want to be a leader in the jobs war, because if you aren’t, slowly and then suddenly nothing else will matter in your struggle to survive.

Read more from Jim Clifton and the war for jobs in Clifton’s bestselling book, The Coming Jobs War. It’s a great way to get ready for Preview Las Vegas on Friday, January 24, at Thomas & Mack Center – Cox Pavilion. Clifton will be the keynote speaker during this morning packed with information, insights, and numbers you need to know to do business in 2014. For more information on the program and to buy tickets, visit or call 702.641.5822.


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