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1977: Steve Jobs (L) with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak at the first West Coast Computer Faire, where they launched the Apple II desktop, their first product. Photo: Tom Munnecke/Getty

Jim Clifton, CEO of the polling firm Gallup, laments the resources the U.S. devotes to identifying and training elite football and basketball players, while failing to scout the next Steve Jobs.

Why it matters: Society apportions much effort to identifying geniuses of almost every type — athletes, intellects, musicians. An exception is "super builders," Clifton says, by which he means the few individuals responsible for our biggest practical companies.

"There may be 400,000 Steve Jobses, but we don't have any idea who they are. But imagine if they were point guards. We would be all over them."
— Jim Clifton

What's going on: Clifton, author of a new book called "Born to Build," tells Axios that Gallup has developed a test to do precisely that — one that "identifies alpha males and females." He calls it a "Builders Assessment."

  • Recently, Clifton administered the test to students at the University of the District of Columbia. Ten passed. He hired all of them for paid internships this summer.
  • "Our tests pick up those with high IQs, but not this one kid, [the builder]" he said. "We think that 2% to 10% have those characteristics. If we could test all the high school graduates, we could get just them. We could treat them like halfbacks."
  • As of now, "there is no Juilliard for them," he added.
Cover for Clifton's new book.

The difference between innovators and builders, according to Clifton: Silicon Valley and similar innovation hubs around the world are ecosystems for invention, and push out the occasional exceptional company. But, "innovation is what they do at DARPA," the Pentagon's radical invention lab, says Clifton. "Builders are the Bill Gateses and IBMs that built everything up."

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."