The following is an Op-Ed by Adeyemi Ajao, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at Identified.com
My dad is 83 years old and worked his whole life in finance. When I told him I was creating a company around “adding gamification to your professional life”, he honestly thought I was joking. “Games” and “professional” are not the first topics that come to mind when thinking of a well-made match. A few months later, when I informed him that we recently raised $21 million at Identified to do just that, he not only thought that I was insane, but the whole world had gone crazy. I had to stop him from calling our investors to ask if they were crazy (literally).
That’s most people’s reaction actually: “Professional is not fun” and “I don’t play games at my job”.
But, at Identified we disagree.
First of all: What’s a game? Sid Meier, the genius game designer who brought us the “Civilization” series, defined a game as “A series of meaningful choices”. #1 Social Gaming company Zynga’s core value is “Delight the user,” which basically means “make the user have fun.”
So let’s just say that a game is “giving people meaningful choices in a fun way.” What does that have to do with your professional life? The key word is feedback.
People crave feedback about themselves. For most people, their favorite topic of conversation is themselves. Facebook is the perfect example: at its core, Facebook is a social feedback mechanism, with the Facebook “like button” being one of the best social game mechanics ever created. Let’s look into it:
You upload a picture of your new haircut. You wait 30 minutes. Then you check Facebook:
– Scenario A: You get 26 likes. Life is great. Your friends love you. Your new haircut rocks. You go to the mirror and upload another 7 pictures. You text your friends and plan on going out that night – this is social feedback delivered through a game mechanic. You made a choice (your new haircut), you played the game (uploaded it to Facebook), the game told you “great, do more of this.”
– Scenario B: You get 0 likes. You are embarrassed. The world is a cold and lonely place and your haircut sucks. You delete the picture and think about what movie you are going to rent tonight, by yourself.
So there we have it, a game mechanic based on social feedback that affects the choices in your life. That’s Facebook.
Now, let’s look at the largest professional network – that would be LinkedIn. Let’s say you get a promotion, you were an analyst and just became a manager at your company. You got a 20% salary raise (congrats to the hypothetical raise)! You are on track to success. So you change your job title on LinkedIn and…nothing happens. No feedback but oh wait, two weeks later a recruiter sends you a message asking if you would be interested in a career in sales in a different city. It kind of sucks, right? It’s definitely not fun.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. You should be able to get social feedback in your career progression instantly. Aside from social feedback, maybe you should know immediately that because you were promoted to a manger on your first year, now you have a 40% higher chance of becoming CEO within seven years in your industry.
That’s what we are doing at Identified. We are looking at the careers of millions of professionals to figure out what are the choices that they took to get to where they are today. How? By using game mechanics: The Identified Score. The score represents, from 0-100, how likely you are to reach your ultimate professional goal. How? By looking at what other people that got there did when you were at your stage. When you are facing professional choices — such as “should I stay here and get a promotion, should I change jobs, go back to school, or who should I network with — we show you how different choices make your score go up or down and how that compares to your friends or others in your profession.
On top of all this, we are making it fun. I can’t tell you just how, our secret sauce won’t be revealed for another few months, but it has to do with games, so I don’t think my dad will be very happy.
Perhaps when our sauce is finally revealed though, you might just see my dad as a gamification convert!