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The Startup Every Employee Should Love and Fear

It's like the Sporcle of the business world, and that's scary as hell. Smarterer ' no, the extra 'ER'? does not stand for Emergency Room, though that's where some resumes may end up if this catches on ' is a new startup that's trying to put everyone's job skills on an even playing field. Let's say that you look at 100 resumes. Every single one has 'proficient in ______'? on there, but how exactly do you measure that? One person's 'proficient'? might actually be another person's 'skilled'? and what the heck is a hiring manager to do when a 'Microsoft Office Rock Star'? comes around? Other than immediately disqualify that person for unnecessary hyperbole, up until now, there hasn't been much to do. That's where Smarterer comes in. Smarterer ' currently in beta ' offers business professionals a chance to prove their proficiency at some of the most popular business and web applications used today. Without going into the most-likely complex algorithm that Smarterer was built on, I'll give you this; take a test and get a grade. You pick an application you want to get graded on, like Twitter, PowerPoint, Photoshop or CSS for example, answer a few multiple choice questions and then get a grade based on how well you answered them. If you get a score of 500-599 you are considered 'Smart'?, 600-699 'Smarter'?, and 700+ 'Smarterer'?. Then import that grade to all of your networks and into your resume to show off just how great you are. It's so mind-numbingly simple it's a wonder why no one has thought of this before. So how does it work? Pretty well, actually. I took it for a test drive yesterday and other than being extremely nerve-racking since you're basically qualifying your entire professional career in a 60 second test, it seems to work pretty well. I seem to be most 'smart'? at applications I use every day (PowerPoint, Word, Twitter), and somewhat below proficiency in applications I rarely use (Photoshop, Illustrator). And just for the heck of it, I took a test for Javascript, something I know absolutely nothing about, and tallied a 165. So, it seems to be pretty accurate. For the most part, you attain the majority of your final score in the first few questions. Then you tend to lose more points by getting questions wrong than you do by getting them correct. This will help ward off the potential for taking the tests over and over and blindly clicking away with the hopes of upping a score. I've taken a few of the tests multiple times, and after the first few, it's somewhat hard to increase your score drastically, so you really do need to know your stuff. Though the site does warn against cheating and hacking, I'm interested to know what other safeguards are in place to thwart potential work-arounds to up scores. And similar to any type of standardized testing, there is also the fear that those with high scores may not necessarily be the most proficient, but just happen to be good at memorizing facts. Though that begs the additional question, if you know the facts, doesn't that make you proficient? Overall, it's a very interesting idea, and something that employers and the workforce will need to familiarize themselves with over the next few years as it has the chance to become a standard in grading out business expertise.

Notes from the EDGE

On Tuesday, we attended the annual Ad Club EDGE Conference at Royale. Per usual, it was an awesome showcase of some great 40 mg levitra thinking, inspirational speakers, and a taste of things to come for the next 12 months in marketing innovation, and technology. And it was by far the classiest collection of folks that have ever stepped foot inside the old Roxy at the same time. The day started off with a quick application demonstration from DJ Patil (@dpatil) and Andre Charoo (@acharoo) of @color. Color was the official app of EDGE, and though it's still not out for Android (I felt slightly left out), it was very cool to see all of the photos come together from the event as the day progressed. If you don't know Color yet, check it (and the $41million they raised a few months back) out here:  http://www.color.com/press. After the Color demonstration, the day was split into 3 sessions, STORY TELLING, TOOLS, and GAMES. Since it was a long day, and people love sound bites, I'll be brief with the recap and give you just that. STORY TELLING Every brand has a story, and being able to clearly articulate your brand story is paramount when trying to get consumers interested in it. One of the best stories of the day was from Johnny Earle from Johnny Cupcakes. He went from hustling candy bars in school to hustling t-shirts at worldwide locations simply by living by the mantra: reinvent yourself constantly, take risks, don't sell out. Boom, sound bite. Up next, Deb Roy from Bluefin Labs scared the pants off of privacy advocates everywhere when he showcased their latest project which maps and links conversations going on throughout the social space to various media channels. I couldn't do their technology justice, but you have to check it out here: http://bluefinlabs.com/. When discussing Timberland's brand story, Jim Davey opined: 'Brands are becoming more and more like media companies and the best stories win.'? Just  think about the opportunity that YouTube alone offers brands who want to disseminate content. Social media and the internet as a whole offers brands the opportunity to take marketing content from a traditional ad and build upon it through multiple media sources quickly and cheaply. Though it wasn't necessarily a marketing story, Sean Carasso, from Falling Whistles told us all a remarkably inspirational story of resilience and hope. Check their story out here: http://www.fallingwhistles.com/main/. TOOLS The Tools session focused on both tool developers and brands who are using existing technology to create improved brand interactions. Companies like Smarterer (way cool, check it out: http://smarterer.com/), and Locately (http://www.locately.com/) are developing solutions while brands like Harley Davidson, The Boston Globe, and Boston's own Taranta Restaurant are using current technology in new ways to improve their consumer's brand experience. To see what they're doing, check these out: Harley Davidson: http://www.harley-davidson.com/en_US/Content/Pages/HOG/HOG.html Taranta Restaurant: http://www.marketinglagniappe.com/blog/2011/05/15/qr-codes-utilized-by-taranta-as-a-marketing-lagniappe/ The Boston Globe: sorry no visuals for those not in attendance, but those who were did receive a sneak preview of the new BostonGlobe.com (this could be big) GAMES It wasn't all fun and games during the games section of the conference. It was also educational and thought provoking. Amy Jo Kim (@amyjokim) from Shufflebrain led off the session with some sound advice, 'don't automatically think of badges and points, think of user experience.'? And when exploring game development, she encouraged the audience to map out the desires of consumers based on the social engagement axis ' is the desired behavior tied to expression, exploration, competition or collaboration? Map that out, and then start game design. Additionally, brands like Zipcar and Perkstreet Financial shared how they've applied gaming mechanics to their business to drive consumer engagement and sales. At Zipcar, gaming is a core part of their experiential marketing efforts, while Perkstreet is redefining how the financial industry offers rewards (and that's saying a lot since the financial industry wrote the book on loyalty programs and rewards points). We're excited to apply all of the learnings from this year's EDGE conference and are already looking ahead to next year. What do you think will be on the Edge in 2012?

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