Mar 16

The scent of a co-worker

March 16 The Early Show on CBS ran an interesting segment today entitled, 'The scent of a co-worker.' The spot revolved around new research showing that the scent one wears in the office can have a direct effect on co-workers. If they like what they inhale, they'll be happier and work harder. Conversely, if they don't dig your skin, they'll be grumpy and do less heavy lifting.

I must say that Ed's body odor, however pleasant, hasn't made me work any harder or smarter. That said, noxious odors have done a number on me and my co-workers over the years.

In the dotcom days, for example, we employed a guy I'll call Smith. Sure as rain, Smith would saunter to the men's room every morning with the sports section of the New York Post tucked neatly under his arm. When he returned to his cube 10 or 15 minutes later, the grapevine would send out an urgent S.O.S. that the men's room had been 'Smithed' and should be avoided for at least the next 30 minutes. Longtime female employees tell me the distaff side had it own Ms. Jones to our Mr. Smith. She'd likewise level the ladies room and render it inoperable for the short-term future.

I have a couple of other best in scents anecdotes that support the new research:

– I was enamored by Drakkar Noir in the mid 1980s and applied it liberally while employed by an international consulting firm. One day, I was in a meeting with our CEO (a former NFL lineman I often mention in my blogs). In the middle of the meeting, this terribly intimidating hulk of a guy stops the dialogue, scrunches up his face and says, 'Cody, what the hell kind of girlie perfume are you wearing?' I told him. He scrunched up his face even further and shouted, 'Dracula who? Jesus, wear Old Spice like real men.' I was humbled to say the least, and made a beeline to the nearest drugstore to pick up some of the low-end O.S.

– Quite a few years ago, I was leading an internal meeting when one of our female employees interrupted the conversation to say, 'Steve, you're wearing Axe!' I nodded and said, 'Yeah, my son, Chris, is home. I borrowed some of his and thought I'd give it a shot.' To which she replied, 'My husband wears it and it absolutely drives me wild!' Oh.

So, on top of everything else, we now have to factor odor into all of the other tangibles and intangibles that make up one's image and reputation. Which makes sense. Because, to this day, whenever I enter our fifth floor men's room, I hesitate for a split second, wondering if anyone has 'Smithed' it. And, if you were Smith, how'd you like that to be your legacy?