Thursday, September 8, 2011
Full summers, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, were dubbed dress down. Of course, common sense was required. There were still days when the formal attire was more prudent but this still left long stretches of time when the white shirts were imprisoned together in the back of many closets. The testosterone laced between the strands of white fabric, steaming. And here, ladies, is when white shirts became our reluctant ally. When a man wants to be ready for battle … a negotiation, a sales presentation, an executive review, a corporate take-over … he will still reach for that white shirt. He will literally wear his testosterone on his sleeve! A white shirt is a clear indication that strong testosterone is present and very much in the game. If you are in that game, be forewarned.
When testosterone and its attire is confined to an enclosed space … a private office, a corporate dining room, a conference room … and there is little or no testosterone-free oxygen circulating, the build up can be stifling and sometimes intoxicating. A direct report once hosted a four hour meeting in one of the smaller conference rooms. The room was intended to sit eight to ten individuals comfortably. Conference rooms were at a premium that particular day, so this room had to accommodate closer to twelve, maybe thirteen individuals, all male, all middle level technology management, and the majority visiting from one of our Wall Street subsidiaries. I had been invited by my subordinate to speak for a few minutes half way through the meeting as we were partnering for a new project and most of us had not yet met in person. Up to now the discussions were held via conference calls. As I approached the room that had one full wall of glass, I didn’t notice any white shirts but I did notice a bulging of the glass, the misty cloud of testosterone clinging to all surface areas, and the more arrogant molecules pinging off the walls and through out the room. Taking a long deep breath and recruiting a shot of my own testosterone, I stepped into the room. It was hard to breathe. So as to not waste too much of my own precious and limited testosterone, I did not linger. After asserting my position as owning senior accountability for the project, and some well placed humorous comments, I left the remainder of the meeting to my testosterone direct report. Though this encounter was lacking the white shirts, the tight quarters seemed to invigorate the testosterone seeping from the more casual attire. When you combine the two elements, many white shirts and enclosed quarters, and you stay in that environment for longer periods of time, you might actually have a shot of getting passed the stifling effect and experience the lure of the testosterone intoxication.
What exactly does testosterone intoxication feel like ... that's up next.