Chris Richards

marketing | branding | tech | startups


Update: New LinkedIn Endorsements Better than Klout?

LinkedIn looks like its adding a beefed up endorsements system to the fray of digital “ego-stroking.” I think this new form digital endorsements, though, might be better than the type created and pushed by the ever-controversial Klout.

new linkedin endorsements

The help button next to the new “endorsements” section reads: “Got a connection with great expertise? Endorse their skills and expertise to give them recognition. Your endorsement will appear on their profile.”

Basically, LinkedIn is prompting us to go rate our business connections and vouch for certain skills they have listed. I like it. Because LinkedIn is the go-to professional network, these personal endorsements could add a nice touch to a profile, ultimately making one a more attractive job candidate.

linkedin endorsements connections

So, how are these new LinkedIn endorsements better than Klout? Well, first of all, everyone uses LinkedIn.

How many people do you know that actually use Klout? Right, not many. For many connections of mine, LinkedIn is a standard social network, used secondarily to Facebook. It’s where all my college friends turned when it was made clear that not having a LinkedIn profile was seen as detrimental.

Klout, on the other hand, is some “zany” off-shoot that maybe only a handful of my friends and personal connections actually use. Sure, plenty of my Twitter followers us it. But they’re all social media “gurus,” “ninjas,” etc, that are involved in digital marketing on a daily basis. My real life friends and business connections aren’t using Klout. They’re using LinkedIn.

My (real life) friend, Ben Konicek, seems to think that these new endorsements will finally make LinkedIn skills relevant. Before, they could have been seen as “filler,” something one put down because it seemed logical and complete. Now, we might see more emphasis placed on truly evaluating what skills one has actually demonstrated or those for which one could be held personally accountable.

Unlike Klout, which evaluates our social media posting habits, these new LinkedIn endorsements reflect our real world skills and experience, vouched for by personal connections. To me, that’s immensely more valuable.



Gamification: University of Pennsylvania Online Course

University of Pennsylvania

A while back, I registered for a course on Coursera just for the fun of it. As I mentioned in my first blog post, I am extremely interested in the concept of gamification. So, when I found out that the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School happened to be offering an online course on the subject, I had to sign up!

So far, I’ve listened through several lectures, all taught by Professor Kevin Werbach, and am enjoying the experience greatly.


As my first experience with online learning, I have to say, Coursera is very easy to jump into. The lectures are broken up into segments of 5 – 10 minutes and are easy to put on in the background or immerse yourself in completely. Throughout the video lectures, “pop quizzes” come up, forcing you to interact with the material. It’s great! Though, so far, the questions have been on the easy side, I like the engagement they create with the video lectures.

Aside from video lectures, there are apparently weekly quizzes and a writing assignment. In the end, if you complete all the material, I believe the course awards you a certificate. Hey, I’d love to have a “certificate of completion” from any UPenn course under my belt!

So, hopefully I can keep up with the material!

[Edit] Turns out that this course is The University of Pennsylvania Wharton Business School‘s first foray into online courses. Fast Company is reporting that it’s a first of many to hopefully follow at UPenn.

Want an MBA without having to hang out with all those MBA types? The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the world’s top business schools, is offering it’s first free online course this year.


Pittsburgh Start-ups

I recently started helping an emerging start-up from Pittsburgh, PA called Casepops. Sadly, I can’t reveal what exactly they’re creating yet. But, it does have a lot to do with smart design, innovation, and creativity, and I’m excited to be a part of their initial product launch.

casepops and pittsburgh startups

Working with them while in Philadelphia has been a great experience too. Though I’ve yet to visit the team in their hometown, I’ve learned a lot about Pittsburgh and its seemingly amazing ecosystem for start-ups.

Part of the awesome start-up culture can be attributed to Carnegie Mellon‘s entrepreneurial and technical programs, but a big influence is the area’s Alpha Lab. Many of the area’s most successful companies (ModCloth, for example) came out of Alpha Lab’s program.


Anyways, I became familiar with a bunch of these start-ups while writing a blog post for Casepops. After writing my post, Pittsburgh Startups: Re-imagining Shoes, Car Buying, Insurance, and Waiting in Line, I couldn’t help but feel excited for the start-up culture in Pittsburgh!

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The Illusion of Choice

Not many choices

I came across this graphic the other day while browsing. While it’s nothing “shocking” per se, I thought it was interesting to see how all the seemingly separate brand entities we know and love all link back to a few big corporations. Especially interesting is the great contradiction between AXE and Dove under the same Unilever label…