The Reputation Economy – Michael Fertik [Book Summary]

by Nick

“The Reputation Economy” explains how to optimize your digital heritage and create a first-class online reputation.

The authors highlight new trends and describe how you can improve the prospects for professional and financial success.

Michael Fertik is the founder and CEO of, one of the first online reputation management firms. She is also a co-author of the bestselling book, Wild West 2.0.

David S. Thompson is a lawyer and business executive. He was formerly General Counsel and Chief Security Officer at

This book is available as:

AudiobookeBook | Print

Find Out How Your Online Behavior Affects Your Reputation.

Online shopping is very common: instead of dragging from store to store looking for what you need, you can get it with just one click. However, there is a downside.

When you buy something on the Internet, say, a pair of shoes, you will be bombarded with shoe advertising in the coming weeks. This is because everything you do on the Internet leaves a mark. And it’s not just your purchases and views. We are entering an era when your entire reputation, including your abilities, important for your new job, will depend on what you do on the Internet.

This book will help you learn (and prepare) for this era. You will learn,

  • why traditional higher education may soon become a thing of the past;
  • why getting your next job may depend on your ability to please the car.

Everything you do on the Internet is recorded, stored and analyzed in order to determine your reputation.

Before the advent of the Internet, people had enough control over how they presented themselves to the world. Today, however, such tight control is a thing of the past. This change, in part, was due to the dramatic expansion of our storage capabilities. Previously, only large organizations such as the CIA, NSA, and IBM had the resources to store large amounts of data. But with the advent of the Internet, anyone was able to store huge amounts of data in digital format.

An individual’s digital footprint is a trace of the data that they leave after staying on the Internet (photos uploaded to Facebook, credit card transactions, withdrawals from ATMs, etc.), which is recorded and stored in a “common heap” . In addition, new technologies simplify and reduce the cost of analysis, quantification and drawing conclusions from these data. And companies are increasingly relying on data analysis tools to identify patterns in their customers’ behavior.

Amazon, for example, uses a system called Hadoop to find among millions and millions of purchase models that allow them to make individual product recommendations.

LinkedIn also uses a similar system to recommend “People You May Know.” These systems are organized in a cascade of data using numerical scoring. So everything you do on the Internet — every click of the mouse — is represented as a number. And many companies contribute these numbers to algorithms that calculate reputation ratings for individuals.

Pretty soon, reputation ratings will be applied everywhere. In other words, everything you want to do in the future, whether getting a new job or buying a house, you have to reckon with your level of reputation – the sum of all your online habits.

Your Reputation Score is Instantly Updated and Used to Predict Your Behavior in All Walks of Life.

Our digital fingerprints and digital reputation will become more and more relevant as technology does not standstill. Moreover, the information we post online reaches the public almost instantly.

For example, like from your boss in social media to instantly increase your reputation to the level of a good employee.

Accordingly, a grouchy comment on Facebook will instantly lower your score. And information about you becomes available to all companies with which you have not had any interactions, and which may try to attract you.

Imagine that you are the person who always stops at the same cafe, eats the same dish for lunch on Fridays and buys cars from the same dealer. Assessing your reputation will reflect your loyalty, and some companies will want to work with you because you can benefit them.

Your Online Reputation Will Affect Other Parts of Your Life Too.

Take your professional life: what you do for one company will be used to predict your behavior in other areas tomorrow.

For example, if you build a good reputation as an advertiser, then this information will automatically be used to predict your abilities regarding social media marketing. In other words, your reputation is your ability.

As you can see, people use this reputation to make decisions, even if their information is limited and not very fresh. Imagine that you want to hire a nanny: you probably never watched this person while looking after children, and, of course, your children are unique and create peculiar problems. You have no real way to find out if the nanny will skillfully care for your children. However, with access to the nanny’s rating and reputation, you’ll get more accurate information (about previous jobs, education, etc.) that will make it easier for you to make a decision.

Inaccurate Information Can Severely and Permanently Damage Your Online Reputation.

Imagine that someone is grinding your teeth on you and your small business.

What happens if this person begins to spread lies about you on all Internet sites?

Unfortunately, you cannot program the computer to censor such comments. No matter how technology advances, computers will always be unable to distinguish between truth and falsehood. False or inaccurate information about a company can critically damage its reputation.

Imagine that a competitor leaves fake negative reviews about your company on Yelp, or pays people to create fake accounts from which you can write negative comments. Slowly destroying your reputation, they sabotage your company with fake comments. Similarly, false or false information about a person can radically harm his entire professional reputation.

Say someone admires or dislikes you to the point that he begins to impersonate you on the Internet. Using your name, a person can do or say certain things that you would never do, causing irreversible damage to your reputation. So, what would you do if you or your business experienced this kind of impact?

How to minimize damage?

It is often better to react indirectly, because a public rebuttal of the charge may be more harmful than useful. Why? Because you will draw more attention to the conflict. In addition, you can be considered a person with an aggressive or defensive character. An indirect answer will allow you to be more careful and rational. For example, if someone posted a blog entry claiming that you were fired – when you actually left on your own – you can prove the opposite by posting photos of a warm meeting with a former leader or his thank you note.

Be Proactive to Change the Subject of Your Conversation and Secure a Good Reputation.

Do you give up easily if your reputation reaches the bottom?

Do not despair – there is a way to bounce back. The key is to be active.

It is impossible to change what has already happened, but you can control the information that people pay attention to. There are several ways to do this.

One way to challenge your negative reputation is to do something out of the ordinary to change your focus. Instead of defending yourself, make people talk about something else. That you are tired is considered laziness. Instead of justifying your habits, sign up for a gym. And share photos of your weekly workouts with colleagues.

Another way to make a difference is to change the attitude of the discussion before it begins. This is exactly what Facebook did when the massive construction of energy-intensive data centers in the Oregon desert began. Since Oregon has long been the heart of the environmental movement, Facebook’s PR team has avoided publicity issues by disseminating energy efficiency information.

This brings us back to another important point: both corporations and individuals should be guided by their strengths. Therefore, if you are also a manager, you balance the personal reputation and the reputation of the company.

The best strategy, in this case, is to shift the focus towards comparing with what you have succeeded. Similarly, when in the early 2000s the position of Yahoo! worsened, the company changed the subject by hiring a new celebrity executive and spending billions on the Tumblr microblogging platform.

Online Reputation Will Have a Huge Impact on Your Career.

In a reputation-based economy, computers are increasingly making important decisions for us – for example, whom to hire or fire. This trend is called “machine-made solution,” or DAMM. As the name implies, these decisions are made with minimal human involvement.

Consider hiring: many companies now use computers to select job applicants. After all, recruiters are slow and expensive, and computers, on the other hand, can make thousands of decisions in minutes, and they don’t need lunch breaks or salaries.

For example, the Mars One Organization received more than 200,000 applications from candidates who wanted to join the mission on Mars. If a person were evaluating these applications by spending five minutes on each application, he would have to spend nine years working full time to process all these applications. Smart job applicants foresaw an automated procedure for checking applications, and prepared materials in accordance with the “preferences” of computers. If you make the recognition and classification of your data easy for your computer, you can increase the chances of a favorable outcome.

Most of these automated systems look for keywords based on employer requirements. So, if a job advertisement requires a certified accountant, most likely the classifier contains the word accountant or bookkeeping. And keep in mind: DAMM can also influence your career.

This applies to Arnel Pineda, a small singer in the Philippines who loved to upload hit songs about travels on YouTube. His performances received thousands of likes, thanks to which he went up in the rating at the request of “travel songs”, which ultimately lifted him to the top of his fame. When it comes to the power of reputation in shaping your career – do not stop believing.,

Your Past Merits and Reputation Will Play a Crucial Role in Hiring

Finding a talented employee is extremely difficult, because the traditional approach to hiring, which relies on intuition and evaluating a resume with a subsequent interview, is not so effective.

This was proven in a study when a group of MBA students was asked to choose between two candidates based on traditional interviews. The results were deplorable: these well-trained future managers chose a more productive candidate discouraging 56% of the time. Therefore, in order to eliminate

the gap between apparent propensity and actual performance, managers are increasingly relying on real tests that simulate actual work: candidates are asked to perform certain tasks designed to weed out ineffective job seekers. In the publishing industry, for example, novice assistant editors have been asked to demonstrate their ability to edit manuscripts.

Another way companies use to fill this gap is through hiring: the company acquires a successful startup and hires its founders and employees. This approach is most often used by giants of high-tech companies such as Google or Facebook, who want to hire the best engineers and software, developers. And in the near future, a more thorough computer reputation check will also provide companies with the opportunity to better evaluate their performance.

This approach is reminiscent of the work of football coaches in the NFL: the jobseeker’s resume or work history is broken down and analyzed in such a way that the recruiter evaluates the career of an American football player based on yards, tricks, and other statistics. In other words, based on the available data, the computer will scan the list of applicants to find profiles with outstanding statistics. Accordingly, the best players will be the most valuable.

Reputation-based Economy Destabilizes Traditional Education

Although more and more people are going to college, employers are finding it difficult to find job applicants with the appropriate skills and training.


One reason for this paradox is that students go to college to give employers a signal that they are likely to be good performers. Nevertheless, more and more evidence proves that the traditional four-year model of education is unsuitable for many students. Some students learn quickly, while others spend many times more on the same material. In addition, college is an ineffective way to assess skills, so

A “reputation-based economy” is ready to replace traditional signals with new ones that show real data of real learning. This will completely change the way students and applicants are evaluated. Companies will make decisions based on criteria that really matter.

And the main question is, will this person be a good employee in this particular position, in this particular company? So what does an alternative system look like? Consider the mathematician Sol Khan, who began by uploading mathematics lessons to YouTube in 2006: his audience grew rapidly, so Khan left his job as a hedge fund analyst to start his own company. His purpose? Make Harvard education more accessible by creating a budget college option.

Today, the Khan Academy is one of the largest non-profit online schools broadcasting videos on topics from biology to art to economics.

This model differs from traditional education in many respects: it does not have compulsory curricula or semesters – students can advance as fast as they like, and instead of giving hourly lectures, lessons are taught in short blocks of 15 minutes.

As such approaches are becoming more common, the line between offline and online learning will soon be erased. If learning is measurable and demonstrates the student’s ability to succeed in a particular job, they will be ready to step into today’s reputation-based economy.


Everything you do today will be recorded, saved and analyzed to determine your level of reputation, which will be constantly updated and used to predict your behavior.

This will have huge consequences for your career, your business, and any other area of ​​your life.

Why You Should Read “The Reputation Economy”

  • To protect your online reputation;
  • To start using the internet wisely;
  • To keep abreast of the latest trends in the hiring process.

This book is available as:

AudiobookeBook | Print