The first cohort of Clifton Builders Program students began fulfilling the promise of a major component of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business Administration Clifton Strengths Institute this semester. The one-of-a-kind program focuses on putting entrepreneurial-minded students in a setting where they can learn and grow by using their strengths to make a positive impact in business.
Jim Clifton, Gallup Chairman and CEO, believes the program has the potential to not only give the 19 Clifton Builders Program students the best chance to succeed personally, but also to provide direction so they can impact the world in a positive way. His hope is the program will contribute to turning around what he sees as the decline of free enterprise over the past several years.
“The program was created to find and develop entrepreneurs, startup types, rainmakers and extraordinarily talented salespeople and leaders – people who have a natural gift to create economic energy where none existed before,” said Clifton. “Big business is in a full recession. The United States has an oversupply of innovators and an undersupply of entrepreneurs.”
Clifton meets with first cohort of builders students
Beyond contributing to the growth of free enterprise, the program goals also aim at creating a higher percentage of good jobs and cultivating the workplace environment by focusing on people’s strengths rather than weaknesses. Students in the Clifton Builders Program learn how they can best impact the program goals. Some may build a business from scratch, whereas others may contribute from working within an already existing organization or making a difference in their local community.
Students apply upon invitation from the program based on the Gallup EP10 assessment. Mark Pogue, director of the Clifton Strengths Institute, explained though the world is good at identifying and developing student potential when it comes to academic or athletic performance, it can be hit or miss when trying to identify the next Steve Jobs vs. Lebron James.
“The selection process for the Clifton Builders Program is designed to identify talent that could launch a great business, non-profit or bring the next wave of innovation within existing organizations,” said Pogue. “The Gallup EP10 assessment not only gives us a glimpse of a student’s potential from a unique perspective, it also gives us a language to explore how we can best develop that potential.”
First cohort at Memorial Stadium
Students selected for the program choose from between three tracks, including business builders, team builders and community builders. Each student learns which path to take by studying their strengths to see where they best fit.
Clifton visited with the first cohort of students recently and encouraged each student to find their path as entrepreneurs through building on their strengths. The Clifton family donated $30 million to Nebraska last year to help found the Clifton Strengths Institute, with the Clifton Builders Program being a central piece to their vision for creating an entrepreneurial impact in the world.
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