Three Steps To Professional Branding with MeritShare

In addition to the great team and culture building benefits of peer recognition in the workplace, MeritShare offers something unique to our users – we offer every user on the platform the ability to build their professional brand online just by participating in positive peer recognition at the office.

Professional BrandingEach user on MeritShare has a public profile associated with their own recognition.  When you give peer recognition on MeritShare, the recognition you give shows up on your public profile page.  If you mark the recognition you send as private, only the award name will be visible publicly.  If the recognition you send or receive is public, the full detail of the recognition is visible instantly on your profile – helping you build your professional brand online.

Here are Three Steps to Professional Branding with MeritShare:

Step 1 – Sign up using your company email at

MeritShare requires your work email so we can ensure the recognition on the platform is professional and is given by people who have actually worked with you on a professional basis.

Step 2 – Complete Your Profile With Your Full Name and a Photo

Adding your full name and a photo is key to domination the first page of Google results for your name.  A profile enriched with a photo and your full  name shows Google that this is high quality, unique content about YOU and it’ll allow you to push down your personal Google results, replacing them with your professional Google results.

Step 3 – Recognize a Coworker with High Quality Professional Praise

We help hundreds of companies and thousands of users improve their company culture and employee engagement through peer recognition.  By sending some high quality, professional recognition to a coworker – you will be recognized as a leader within your team, even if you don’t have the job title to prove it.  By sending the recognition on MeritShare vs. email, a record of your recognition will show up on your own public profile on MeritShare – helping you boost your professional brand in just minutes.

Thats it! It takes just a few minutes to set up your account and send you first bit of peer recognition on MeritShare.  Your coworkers will love the recognition they receive and you can help build your own professional brand in the process.

Employee Appreciation Day

Happy employee appreciation day! Employee appreciation day first showed up in 1995 on calendars. According to SHRM’s “WeKnowNext” blog, Dr. Bob Nelson started the holiday on the first Friday in March, with the first edition of his book “1001 Ways To Reward Employees”. WeKnowNext says:

Dr. Nelson didn’t just want March 1st to be the only day of celebration, he says ” employees should be valued all year round, especially when they have performed well, but the first step is raising awareness about the importance of recognition on the part of every manager Employee Appreciation Day has helped serve that purpose”.

One of the best ways to drive awareness and motivate action is through a great visual based on data. Travis Pearl, co-founder of MeritShare thought it would be fun to provide a data visualization of employee appreciation day, so he created a real-time heat map that shows thanks and recognition given on MeritShare’s network. You can see the real-time heat map for the US here.

MeritShare’s appreciation heat map is a data visualization demonstrating the future of employee recognition: data-driven, real-time, and shared. Peer-recognition has already democratized recognition; we are now taking this one step further by using the metrics from this activity to measure engagement and performance. Just like democracy is powered by votes, engagement should be measured by action. MeritShare has a recognition index that companies can track their performance over time and against averages by industry and peer groups. I believe the future of recognition will become more data-driven with metrics that can lead to decisions and action. Online recognition also allows for instant recognition, the more timely the better. Web-based systems also make sharing of information easier, this along with the increasing transparency giving company recognition the opportunity to leave the corporate firewall and swim in the social media streams and world wide web.. Not all companies will let their recognition hang out, but some will. In fact, many of the companies that use MeritShare want the world to see their peer-based recognition shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-in to help them with their recruiting efforts.

With this heat map created by my co-founder of MeritShare in honor of Dr. Nelson and employee appreciation day, I see the future of employee recognition: democratized, data-driven, real-time, and shared.

Let’s turn up the heat on recognition, you can get started on MeritShare instantly and at no charge.

Are You A Top 10% Most Viewed Profiles On LinkedIn?

Did you receive an email from Linkedin congratulating you on being a top 1%, 5%, or 10% of all profiles viewed?

Both my Linkedin and Twitter streams are filled with posts from users that have received this distinction.

The LA Times posted an article yesterday titled “LinkedIn’s clever marketing: You’re special like 10 million others“.  The story estimates that 10 million people were sent an email to the 1% or 5% most viewed user profiles out of their 200 million members.

But wait, there is more.  Linkedin also sent awards to the top 10% most viewed profiles bringing the total to an estimated 20m users.  Katie Notopolulos at Buzz Feed was the first to update the initial estimate of 10m to the current of 20m.

Are there more to come? So far most of the commentary on Linkedin’s award-bombing has been mostly positive.  Michelle Wetzler, writes on the Keen IO blog” Props, LinkedIn marketing team. Props.”.

The top 10% of users who did receive seem quite proud..  You can tell it’s working from the stream of people tweeting this stat that “deserves to be shared”

We think this type of professional recognition is awesome and want to honor LinkedIn’s Top Users.  MeritShare will honor the top 1%, 5%, and 10% most-viewed profiles with a MeritShare online badge and public award page.  The benefit to the recipient is that a MeritShare award page is more permanent than a post in a social media stream.  The MeritShare award page is also optimized for search; many MeritShare profiles with a photo and a badge show up in the first page of Google results for someone’s name.”  A personal and professional branding win!

To receive a MeritShare award, just forward the email you received from LinkedIn to and we’ll send you a special “Connector” award through MeritShare.

Michelle Wetzler’s Linkedin Award invitation and share page:


Zumobi For The Win, Best Seattle Companies To Work For

MeritShare would like to congratulate one of our first clients, Zumobi on winning Three! 2012 W3 Awards.

Zumobi’s MSN Autos app was named a Gold Winner and placed among the top 10 percent of all entries. The company also received Silver awards for their MSN Money and Sporting News NCAA Football apps. The 2012 W3 Awards competition drew more than 3,000 entries created by some of the best interactive agencies and designers worldwide.

Ken Willner, CEO of Zumobi says: “Enabling the most engaging mobile experiences possible is at Zumobi’s core and we’re honored that our work is being recognized among some of the most innovative digital programs of the year,”.

Zumobi is also one of the best places to work in Seattle according to Seattle Business Magazine.  Rewards and recognition are a critical component of Zumobi’s winning formula.  Zumobi values their employees and is using MeritShare to help build a great culture of appreciation and recognition.

Many people at Zumobi have been honored with appreciation and recognition on MeritShare. Recent winners include:

Christina Elsberry
Ben Painter
Kristin Spanton
Daniel Clark
Michael Hradek
Pat Binkley
Brian Twigg
Charles Stuart
Andrea Bruch

Congratulations to everyone at Zumobi.

If you are looking for a great place to work and a company that is defining our mobile future, check out their jobs here.



Best Places To Work in Seattle & Washington: What You Need To Know

MeritShare can help you drive employee engagement. Contact for more information

Winning a “Best Places To Work” designation can really help with your recruiting and appeal to top candidates.  Participation is also a great check point on the health of your work culture.   Get your employees engaged now with MeritShare and make sure you submit your application by the deadlines below.

Seattle Business Magazine
More information and web page
Submission Deadline: 1/1/2013
Awards Event: June 2013

Seattle Met Magazine
More information and web page
Submission Deadline:  Sign-up now for updates, estimated Feb/Mar entry submission.

Awards Event: TBD

Submission Deadline: February 2013
More information and web page
Awards Event:  November 2013

How do you identify and pick your company values?

Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras outlines the results of a six-year research project into what makes enduring great companies.  Collins and Porras assert that a core ideology is composed of a set of core values and a purpose that guide an individual or organization forward.   Core Values are essential and enduring tenets not to be compromised for financial gain or short-term results.

The 6 years of analysis and research by Collins and Porras prove that the most successful companies are mission and value-driven.  The question for me is how do you define and select those values.  So I spent a couple of days doing some online research with no meaningful results.  There were a lot of articles that discuss the importance of company values, but very few that provide suggestions for how you identify those values.

So I posted a question on the Linked-in HR Group and within 24 hours received many helpful responses.

Executive coach Gregor Findlay offered this advice:

To identify the real values that are in place, interview the leadership and then examine their behaviours. If the behaviours observed support the values espoused then you have a good chance that you have correctly identified the existing values. If they don’t match, then you’ve a bigger challenge.


Author Adina Balauru suggests going right to the top:

The shareholders or the owner who have created the company is the one that knows what is the mission of it. He has a vision of this business on short-medium-long term. And in order to complete the mission, the company’s employees need guiding points such as the values. Usually the values belong to the company’s creator or to the leader of the company who inspires the rest of the employees to be performant and to enjoy their work on a long term.

Finally, the approach we ended up using to pick MeritShare’s values was suggested by Bill Burnett, the co-founder of THNK.

We use a process that takes Collins and Porras’s Core Ideology in Built to Last with a slight but very significant variation. The whole process, from blank page to crystal clear definition of what you call Mission, core values, and behaviors (desired and banned) takes less than a day. Mission is easy. It is the What and Why expressly linked to some intrinsic good. You are spot on that there is a tight link between Mission and core values. And that is where we depart from Built to Last when it comes to values. And this is the hardest thing for companies to grasp because of a feature of the brain Daniel Kahneman refers to “theory induced blindness” The theory is that values drive behavior. It is an appealing idea and most people believe it is true. We like to think that our behavior is guided by that internal compass. But the theory is wrong. Perfectly rational people behave in ways that is in direct opposition to their values everyday. And what we absolutely need to attend to are behaviors, after all, it is all your get from your people. And equally important we need to have those behaviors be highly motivated right behaviors. That is where values come in. Values answer the “How” question in ways that link to some intrinsic good. It is possible that a Mission requires no additional “How” statements. These are not behavior statements, they are statements around doing some good. They become the foundation for how you link individual job behaviors to the fundamental motivators of Identity and Meaning (separate conversation).


For example, it we were to tackle Method Cleaning products. Their mission might be to make families healthier and happier by making the home they live in sparklingly clean and germ free. Supporting values statements (How) might be “by making products and packaging that are 100% environmentally friendly; by making products that are safe and non-toxic.” This gives us a foundation for motivating behaviors for employees. Method’s current values (except for one) are really behavioral statement. They want to be spontaneous and have fun (“Keep Method Wierd”), they want to be resourceful (“What would McGyver do?”), they want to be innovative (“Innovate, don’t imitate”), and they want their employees to work together (“Collaborate like crazy”). These are behavior statements. In our model, you need to spend a bit more time on behaviors and we work with leadership teams throughout the organization to define the behaviors, both of employees, and (harder work) the behavior of leaders.

Defining your mission and values is important if you want to build a great company that attracts top talent.  Thank you to Bill, Adina, & Gregor for your thoughtful and helpful advice.




You Don’t Win Games Just By Showing Up

According to Bersin and associates, over 87% of companies provide recognition based on years of service, a practice first mandated by unions.  While retention of employees is critical and high turnover is undesirable  – not connecting recognition to performance or company values is a disservice to employees, shareholders, and leaders.  In her research, Bersin analyst Stacia Sherman Gar also shows that service-based awards have little to no impact on turnover, morale, or performance.

A much more effective approach to tenure-based systems is to provide recognition programs based on company values, results, and performance.

Values-based recognition:
Values help define how you want people to work together and make decisions.  Some of Google’s values include: 1) Fast is Better Than Slow 2) Democracy on The Web Works 3) Focus on The User and All Else Will Follow.  It is easy to imagine how Google’s focus on the consumer helped to guide decisions and policies related to advertising and their uncluttered ad-free home page.

A well-selected values should deliver on the strategic imperatives or missions of a company.  One of Zappo’s core values is “Delivering Wow Through Service”, reinforcing a brand promise and competitive differentiator for this successful e-commerce company.

Values-based recognition rewards employees who best demonstrate and exemplify the desired behavior, providing teaching moments for the entire company.   In order to maintain their spirit of entrepreneurialism and ensure their size does not slow them down, Amazon provides a “Just Do It” award quarterly to an employee who provides a shining example of taking initiative and “getting ‘er done”.

Great companies are also built when there is tight alignment between the founders vision and the values needed to deliver on that mission.  Apple’s relentless focus on building great products and attention to detail is a manifestation of their late founder Steve Jobs.  Founder-based values can be very effective when  you have a leader that embodies those characteristics.

Goal-based recognition:
Goal-based recognition provide awards based on measurable results.  Many sales organizations use these for top performers, providing the award to the individuals who makes the most sales or consistently exceeds targets.  Almost every position can establish this type of recognition program and leverage SMART goals to make sure they are effective and support company priorities.

In other cases, critical company results are accomplished by cross functional teams of engineers, designers, product, and marketing people.  Thus, goal-based recognition can be applied to group or teams.  Apple retail stores constantly monitor and optimize their operations to improve their customer net promoter score (% of customers who would strongly recommend to a friend).

Goals-based recognition can also be used to draw attention to key initiatives that need additional exposure.  Many companies are in industries being disrupted by technology, business models, and global competition.  Print and media companies need to get more digital, digital companies need to go mobile, and mobile companies may need to address new platforms and form factors.   A forward-looking goal-based recognition program can help prepare a company for a very different future.

Although tenure and attendance based recognition is an easier system to manage, the effort to develop values and goal-based recognition will produce better results.  You can still keep a tenure-based system, but put a lot more weight and attention on recognition that reinforces the values and results of employees and teams.  You owe performance-based recognition to your employees, your customers, your board, your investors, and yourself.

Coffee is for closers, awards are for winners.


Top 5 Reasons You Need Peer-Based Recognition

Companies are looking for low-cost and creative employee recognition ideas and peer-recognition can be one of the most effective ways to thank employees and keep them engaged.  Here is why you need peer-recognition more than ever.

Power to the people!
The era of top-down management is changing.  Successful companies are empowering employees to make decisions and take action.  Yet in many companies employee recognition and awards are still determined at the top.  Relatively few companies provide peer-based recognition.  We define peer-based recognition as a program that allows employees to nominate, vote, award or thank a fellow co-worker in front of an audience or group.  We have interviewed over 40 executives at Fortune 500 companies, hyper-growth start-ups and industry leaders to get their best practices on building a successful company culture.  Based on this research and our analysis, here are the top 5 reasons you need peer-based recognition at your company:

1.   Recognize as a team to win as a team.  A very senior ad sales executive we interviewed encouraged his team to give praise to others in engineering, accounting and product.  As a frequent flyer he realized he couldn’t fire up the team on his own and enlisted his team to give praise and create strong inter-department relations.  He added, “having the extra set of eyes, ears, and hands really helped move our culture to the next level… I unleashed the beast of appreciation! “.  Giving more people the power to give praise helps build a culture of recognition.

2. Silent but deadly.   Many companies have quiet superstars who are always heads-down and delivering spectacular behind-the-scenes results.  ”Every where I have worked there has always been the strong silent type who didn’t make a lot of noise but always over-delivers”, said a very experienced account manager.   “It’s more important for me to see the right people get recognition, I depend on these superstars and wouldn’t want to lose them”.

3.  No more straight lines.    It is difficult for managers to always know who to recognize in highly matrixed organizations and cross-functional teams.   Peers can have a better sense of who is really over-performing and making significant contributions on a team.   The head of a design department mentioned that she had dispersed her team to sit with the cross-functional teams they worked on to create quicker and more responsive design support.  This took her out of some of the day to day interactions so she spent a lot of time getting feedback with the team leads.  She felt that peer-based recognition would help create a spirit of team work and help her keep in touch with how her direct reports were performing with their cross-functional teams.

4.  Act like a manager to become a manager.  Learning to recognize and appreciate work is an important leadership skill every manager needs to know.  Setting the right goals, communicating  recognition with the right words, ensuring fairness — are skills all employees can learn.  One senior leader said she was having challenges with getting her new managers to take the time and provide recognition.  She added “now I make sure employees demonstrate the right characteristics of being a great manager before being promoted”.  If you are looking for that promotion to manager, you are well-advised to apply recognition and appreciation techniques now.

5.  I feel good!.  Why not share the love throughout the organization and let everyone use the power of recognition to inspire greatness?  For some, giving is better than receiving.  The former head of recognition and engagement programs for AT&T said her peer-based recognition initiatives were the most effective programs she ran.  She beamed with pride and her face lit up when she talked about this successful employee-driven recognition program that included a trip to Hawaii and dinner with the Chief Executive Officer.

The next time you are at a company meeting, notice the rise in energy-level and goodwill when awards are presented.  Here’s the deal,  you don’t have to wait until the next meeting or a senior executive to recognize outstanding work, you have the power to do this today with peer-based recognition.

Ready to get started with peer-based recognition?  Try it for free today at MeritShare, we give everyone the power of appreciation.


2012 Olympic Medals: 5 Quick Facts & 1 Special Medal

Our history of recognition dates back to the ancient greeks who awarded winners with wreaths of laurel. The tradition lives on today at the 2012 Olympics with both laurel and medals presented to the winners of Olympic events. Here are some interesting facts about the medals.

2012 Olympic Medals

1. Imagery

Nike, greek goddess of victory
River Thames as a symbol for London

According to the designer, David Watkins ” Its key symbols juxtapose, front and back, the goddess Nike for the spirit and tradition of the Games, and the River Thames for the city of London”

2. Designer

David Watkins. Watkins is a British artist who also did the special effects for film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

3. Selection Committee For Award Designs

Designs were submitted by over 100 artists. The selection committee included:
Sir John Sorrel (chair), Ade Adepitan (deputy chair), Sir Mark Jones, Catherine Johnson, Iwona Blazwick OBE, Niccy Hallifax and Martin Green. The LOCOG Athletes’ Committee, chaired by Jonathan Edwards, and the British Olympic Association (BOA) were also involved throughout the process.

4. Value of A Gold Medal & Specs:

Intrinsic Value: Priceless

Cost:  $700 (using current price of $1,590 per ounce)


The Gold Medal is not 100% gold, given the pricing above, the estimated 300 gold medals awarded would cost around $6 million dollars.

Gold Medal: 92.5% silver and 1.34% gold, with the remainder copper

Silver Medal: 92.5% silver, with the remainder copper

Bronze Medal: 97.0% copper, 2.5% zinc and 0.5% tin

5. Award Ceremonies

There will be 302 Victory Ceremonies to present the medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

6. BONUS: The DeCoubertin Medal

The International Olympic Committee also awards a special medal called the True Spirit of Sportsmanship medal, also known as the DeCoubertin Medal, to an athlete who demonstrates a spirit of sportsmanship. The Olympic Museum says “it is one of the noblest honours that can be bestowed upon an Olympic athlete.” The 1988 recipient of the award was Canadian sailor Lawrence Lemieux who abandoned his own sail race, when in second place, to aid two sailors who had capsized in the 470 class during the 1988 Games.

The Olympic awards celebrate the best of who we are and what we stand for. We hope the Olympics continue to inspire us at MeritShare to make recognition rock! For a sneak peak about how we are changing the face of recognition, check out our beta site.

Sources: Wikipedia,,