If there is one thing constant in this world, that would definitely not be the future. It varies according to the different types of influences and technologies we encounter. Frank Diana, a recognized futurist, thought leader, and frequent keynote speaker, explains his thoughts on these influences that affect the future and how they come together. He goes deep into predicting trends, thought-leadership focused on emerging future, perception between real and not real, climate change, cryptocurrencies, AI, and more.
Scents define a person wearing it. Sue Phillips, CEO and Founder of Scenterprises, is a globally-recognized expert of fragrance, cosmetics, and personal care. In this episode, she explains the details on how she creates scents for major brands and how these scents change a person. Sue takes us along on a fragrant ride through different ingredients and the way she creates custom fragrance experiences for people.
I’m so glad you joined us because we have Frank Diana and Sue Phillips here. This is going to be an interesting show because we’re going to start off with Frank Diana, who’s a managing partner of Tata Consultancy Services. He’s also a globally recognized futurist. Sue Phillips is the CEO and Founder of Scenterprises. That’s a combination of scent and enterprises. She’s globally recognized as a fragrance expert. She is also super fascinating. This is going to be a great show.
Listen to the podcast here:
Future Influences: How They Come Together With Frank Diana
I am here with Frank Diana, who is a recognized futurist, thought leader and frequent keynote speaker. He has served on various executive roles throughout his career. He’s a thought leader and advisor in the context of business, societal and economic evolution. He blends a futuristic perspective with a pragmatic, actionable approach. I’m interested in your work, Frank. It’s so nice to have you on the show.
Thanks for having me.
You’re welcome. I’ve had guests mentioned your work and I’m fascinated with what you do. I want to get a little background on you so we know how you got to where you are now. Are you at Tata Consultancy Services still?
Yes, that’s where I am.
How did you get to that point?
I had very long different kinds of careers. I started with technology way back in the ’80s with AT&T. I served in CIO roles and served as a CTO. I ended up in a whole bunch of startups for years which was a fascinating experience. The common denominator across all those is the ability to see into the future. I stumbled on more of a futurist role to be honest, but that’s what I’ve been doing for many years.
I’ve had a few futurists on the show. It’s a tough thing to even focus on. If we could forecast the future, we’d all be rich. We all would like to be able to predict everything. It’s challenging, but we need to have foresight and to be proactive like Stephen Covey and all that. How do you become a futurist? Is it the ability to see the future? Is it predicting trends? What exactly in case some of us don’t have a good background on what it means to be a futurist?
In terms of a futurist that trained for it, there are so many different domains that help you with that, whether it’s economics or social focuses. There are a number of different domains that come together to enable a futurist to be a futurist. In my case, it wasn’t any of those things. It may be a broad cross-section of those and other, but I don’t believe in prediction quite frankly. Although people have been successful at it in the past. People like Ray Kurzweil for example. There are many variables, many dots and connecting, many obstacles and accelerators that we can’t see. Especially given the rate of change we’re experiencing now, it is very difficult to predict anything. You asked me what has made me an effective futurist. It’s the ability to see a number of those dots and try to understand how they may connect in ways that shape our future, societal trends, science and technology trends and geopolitical things. They all come together in ways that are hard to predict, but you can try to assess how they may come together in the past they may take. That’s where I spend most of my time.Without awareness, there is really no compelling reason for any leader to act. Click To Tweet
You talk about how they come together and I was trying to figure out some of these charts that you had in one of your blogs. You have a lot of these circular graphs when you train people. You talk about standard of living or purpose and all these different things and how things come together. What do you do when you’re training? Can you explain that blog and why you put that together? You talk about the thought leadership course that you focused on the emerging future. What do you teach in that and what can you help people to know in a course like that?
The course and now the presentations I give globally have the same purpose in mind and that is to educate and create some level of awareness. The course is a few years old and things have changed quite a bit since then. The fundamental driver is the same. That is our exponential pace is creating a world that can be very overwhelming for any leader because there are many things we try to consider. I found a few years ago and maybe even before that there wasn’t a real appreciation for this and awareness was lacking. Without awareness, there was no compelling reason for any leader to act and a lot of this stuff felt like science fiction. I’ve been all about creating a level of awareness that drives action by accepting that these things are reality, not science fiction. I have seen that change in the last few years. The autonomous vehicle that has been a big contributor to this change is an appreciation for these things as potentially real and not science fiction anymore.
That’s fascinating because you’re talking about awareness being a reason to act. I find there’s a lot of status quo thinking out there. That’s what I was trying to eliminate to some extent with my work with curiosity. What I did was create a survey assessment that determines the things that keep people from being curious. If you can recognize or you don’t know that things are holding you back so you can move forward, then you can be more innovative, engaged and productive. All the things everybody’s trying to do right now. How do you think curiosity plays into what you’ve talked about and what you’ve worked with people?
Curiosity is one of those big traits that’s important. Especially curiosity, critical thinking and all the things that we consider the right side of our brains. The humanness of being all critical. Curiosity is going to be more and more important at the associate level. People in organization have to be more curious because all these things are coming together in ways fundamentally changed not our businesses, but the foundational elements, if not society. I’m a big believer that anybody that is alive has a belief system that’s set of intuitions that have driven by what they know and what they’ve experienced through their lives. What’s coming is altering those belief systems, intuitions and institutions like education and other are fundamentally built for a different time. The curiosity pieces of all this is we need to be curious about what’s next. We alter our beliefs, unlearned what we’ve known and moved towards a place where we can deal with what’s coming. That’s the fundamental tough human thing to do because we’re all creatures of our own beliefs.
My next book is on perception, which is basically in the workplace, of our belief system and what we think our reality is different for everybody else. How does that tie into futurist thinking?
I’ll use an example. As we think about things like artificial intelligence and the things that it will do, ethics has become a pretty big discussion in terms of how do you build ethics into the systems that leverage AI. To your point, there are no real global standards for ethics. How does the world that needs to solve these acute problems like ethics come together in a way that defines that going forward? Although we have varying degrees of ethics around the world based on those ethics are leveraged in these types of applications? That’s a great example of how there is no standard way of thinking about things. I might even have to think that level comes from a global standard. All of these things require somewhat of a global response, which makes the current state of our world problematic.
That’s interesting because I teach a lot of courses in ethics. I love to teach them because it’s subjective and people will get upset because you’ve got your stance. This is the reality. This is how it should be but should is subjective. If you’re a leader and you’re doing business in multiple cultures around the world, whose standard of ethics do you go by? Do you go by yours or the local culture where it’s okay to pay off the politicians? How do you do it? That’s a tough question.
For example, some of the things I’ve seen that people are doing to try to get to that answer. At MIT, we created something called a moral machine, which paints these pictures of scenarios and crowdsources the way some people would handle those scenarios, crowdsourcing the notion of ethics. Another great example, although it might sound odd and this is the one that everybody always uses. The driverless car, what does it do, hit the mom and the baby stroller or to protect the driver? One point of view I heard was you let the owner decide. It’s a setting. If you let the owner decide and in doing so you’re collecting how people have set that up. It’s another example of how you do crowdsourcing. I know that 50% of the people say,” I’m going to protect the driver at all costs.” You started to get a consensus around what ethics and what it should look like? These are all examples of potential paths. It doesn’t mean that’s how that all goes.
What do you think? What’s your perception of how they should handle that? That’s an interesting dilemma.Anybody alive has a belief system that is set of intuitions driven by what they know and what they've experienced through their lives. Click To Tweet
It’s a problematic approach or opinion that I have here because I don’t see a path yet. If you think back to the days of World War II, the aftermath and what had to happen for us to make sure our society is on a path to avoid what had happened and nuclear proliferation had to be managed. All those things led to a number of the global bodies that exist now that have a sole purpose in life and it was born in that day. Where at that same point in history where without a global set of entities that are strictly there to manage the path forward and answer these questions, I don’t know how this gets resolved. Other futurist like Gerd Leonhard who wrote a book called Technology vs. Humanity. In his book, he tackles the specific issue and proposing some similar things like a global digital body that is there to manage those standards and path forward the governance. One of the fundamental challenges for society right now is we’ve lost all our governance mechanisms. This path of science and technology is moving on its own.
What do you mean by that? I’m a little confused. You’re saying we’ve lost the government control and it’s moving on its own. Is that what you mean?
It’s an ability to govern the path to sciences. If we think back to prior day, the military was a big source of advancements in technology and science, governments and were now to some degree are businesses. To use one example and I’ll call technical philanthropists who are using their massive amounts of wealth to fundamentally move these things along on their own. Case on point, a federal government can say, “I don’t believe in climate change and I’m not going to invest a lot in that,” but at the same time, Amazon is going to go completely green between now and 2040. You’ve got people investing billions of dollars in advancing some of these scenarios if you will. Nobody is governing that. There are no government mechanisms. What are the government mechanisms of the future? That’s what I meant.
Going back to perception, why do you think we have such a different viewpoint of whether climate change is something real or not real? Is it the losses we would receive? Is it media attention? Why do you think we can’t agree on certain topics like that?
It goes back to the age-old battle between economics and environment. This takes back to the early ’70s because we go all the way back to the Nixon era. At some point after all the regulations were put in place, people started asking for cost-benefit analysis and those regulations right there. What was the cost? Even if the benefit was you’re saving human life, what was the life force and what was the cost of saving that human life? In this world, you’re seeing some of the same arguments being made as denial that climate change is an issue because the economics don’t work. That’s my opinion anyway. That’s the heart of most of it.
What do you think of that teen Greta Thunberg? She gave that speech at the UN. How this has caused this debate? Do you think that we should get dad upset or not? Is it good to have that ability to speak out? What’s your viewpoint on that? I’m curious.
When I talk to audiences around the world, I obviously try to avoid highly charged topics. What I try to do is flip the discussion. Let’s use climate change as an example. At some point, it becomes an economic discussion versus an ideological discussion. By that, I mean when electric vehicles are much more economically sound than gas-powered vehicles, that decision becomes an EU decision. When nations start to pay less for energy because they’re using renewables and it changes the geopolitical dynamic because oil is no longer required. The competitive disadvantage the nations put themselves as if they’re not moving alongside that path, it’s eventually going to shift their thinking. If I said to you, “If you could pay nothing for your electricity, would you do it?” I don’t know anybody that would say no. Instead of having this ideological debate about climate change, let’s talk about what renewables and other forms of energy could do too much of the geopolitical landscape, the cost of your energy.
You make it from that perspective. I liked that. There are a lot of very interesting topics that are in the news right now in addition to climate change. Since you’re a futurist, I like to get your insight. I was at an event with Steve Forbes who was talking about Zuckerberg and Libra and all that. What do you think of the cryptocurrencies and what’s the future of that in your mind?
I get that question a lot as far as cryptocurrencies and it’s very topical. Blockchain is another big discussion. As a futurist and because of the focus I take, I look a little bit further out. Forget money and let’s talk about value. What do we as a society consider value? Once we’ve understood that then we talk about how do you compensate for that value? Some simple examples and I call that money duelo. What does the money of the future look like and what does it mean? Whether it’s cryptocurrency or some other form of value representation. This is how society decided things if I stay home to care for my child or if I stay home to care for my elderly parents that’s not compensatable. It’s valuable at least at some level, but it’s not compensatable. What if society decided or taking some time off to rescale myself because I need to. Society decided that those things are not just valuable, they’re compensatable. Whether it’s crypto, a token or something that you’re given as a result and you can then trade for whatever you need to sustain yourself. That’s the world I’m looking at. It’s beyond money is the discussion.
I had this breakout session in the form several months ago about that topic. It’s a fascinating topic because if we consider that the world’s heading towards more of an abundance-based society than a scarcity-based society in a world where your basic needs are cared for, then everything else you need to purchase if you will, is above and beyond sustainability. Rather than getting into a crypto discussion, because I have my opinions on that, but I don’t know how relevant that is. I’d rather have a discussion around the issues that are coming if work and jobs go where they’re going and how to solve those issues.
Do you foresee like a Star Trek future where we don’t need money anymore? Everybody’s working together. We all get along because we almost blew each other up or do you see something completely different then?
I think the challenges that are coming, and it goes back to what I said about belief systems and institutions. The challenges that are coming are probably not going to get solved with the current mental models that we embraced. A great example would be if we talk about universal basic income in the context of a future that might have less jobs or the needs for jobs, there’s a reason why we’re talking about it. The mental models that you view it through are the welfare state mental model. Under that view, you’re not going to do favorably universal basic income. If you look for and about and said, “This is the reason why that might be a viable option,” then you change your mental models. That’s not what’s happening right now and the lens that we view those things is very different. I do envision a future where we’ve had to rethink the core concepts that have gotten us this far because all these things will combine in ways that force us there.
The universal income thing is an interesting debate. I had Andrew Yang who is running for president on the show awhile back and he was pointing that out. We talked the Libra thing with Steve Forbes and I had a conversation with the Wolfgang Koester who he happened to run into at the same event who had been on the show. Just looking to everybody’s input into where things are going, there’s no consensus with everybody I talked to. That’s what I find interesting. Everybody is trying to guess, hope and whatever but it’s hard to predict. As you said, you don’t predict, but there are some things that I’m interested in. Is Moore’s Law going faster or that’s no longer something that you are looking at? What is the impact of AI going to be? Everybody’s going to be asking you these questions. What do you foresee for how fast we’re progressing with AI and the safety and all the things that people probably ask you about? What’s your insight on that?
It’s a core part of what I present. When I do present in the audience, first and foremost, I focus on history. There are many great corollaries between some periods of our past and what’s happening right now. It’s instructive if we look back at history and then I focus on some scenarios that are emerging. In the blogs you mentioned, I use an effective visual that talks about a number of emerging future scenarios. All I’m trying to do is paint possible futures. If these futures were to play out, what does it mean to you as a leader? What does it mean to you as an organization, etc.? In those conversations is how I talk about where artificial intelligence is going. A simple example, it’s very easy for us to look at our artificial intelligence and think about some of the left brain things that it will replace. I showed a video of a robot hitting a hole-in-one on the golf course. It has a big impact on an audience because they never envision the robot hitting on that. You could almost say an algorithm that figures it out, how hard to figure that all out?
I talk about what about the right side of our brain? Empathy, compassion and all the things that we do as humans that we don’t envision a machine is doing. I showed a video of Sophia the Robot on the Tonight Show interacting with Jimmy Fallon. It’s fascinating to watch because now you’re forgetting it’s a robot. All I do is paint these pictures that say, “If you don’t think this is possible, take a look at what’s happening right now.” It doesn’t mean it plays out. That’s how I handle the notion that I’m going to get a lot of questions on what I think is happening, but I tackle it through by painting these various scenarios.
How fast is this changing? Are we keeping up with getting people prepared for the jobs that’ll be removed? We always were worried about that. Even in the ’80s when I was selling System 36 and 38. I remember people were freaking out. They were going to lose their jobs to technology, but new jobs were created. Back then, that made a lot of sense. There will be new jobs, but there’s much more and much faster now. Do you think it’s going to be a problem getting people re-trained, repositioned into jobs that maybe they’ll be more engaged in? I guess that’s because a lot of what I was focusing on with curiosity is we’ve got people moving positions. Wouldn’t it be nice to put them in something they’d like by having them ask questions and being allowed to pursue things? I’m curious about your insight on that.
The most frequent question I get revolves around jobs and what I think are going to happen with jobs and work and then related to that is education. I create that linkage. I don’t get that education question a lot, but whenever I get to jobs question, I link it to education because it’s tightly linked. I’ll step back. Every time in history we had seen transformation happen or transitions happening to your point, we’ve always created more jobs. We went from the farm to the factory. We created jobs when we went and we’ll create the office environments of our day. We helped that as well but it’s always education that enabled all that. Along the way, education, high school in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s enabled the mass production era that we saw later. It enabled people to burst out in terms of jobs and the prosperity that followed. We’re at that point in history again.
When I’m asked the question around jobs and work, they are two-folds. One that we believe we solved before, we solved again and one that I believed we’ve been or being here where the kinds of skills required for the jobs that are coming will require a mass that’s going up a society. I lean more towards that pole because I do believe the jobs will be there for some period of time, but the skills required to do them will not keep up. It then puts a focus on our education system and our learning paradigm. I get into this conversation a lot. Why we learn, how we learn and what we learned is changing because when information is as abundant as it is now, pumping information into a student, the necessary form of education or are there other things we should be focused on? I had a post on Switzerland having the highest skilled workforce in the world and what they did to drive that.Human beings are creatures of their own beliefs. Click To Tweet
It’s interesting because when I ran the MBA program at Forbes, we were looking at how you train people now for jobs you don’t even know are going to be here by the time they get out. By the time you write the curriculum, jobs have already changed, it’s very challenging. It made me think of when you were saying what you just said about Sir Ken Robinson‘s TED Talk that was talking about how we educated people out of their creativity. Do you think we’ll see education focused more on creativity and curiosity-based issues, maybe it won’t be STEM-related that there will be a little bit more of that?
Whether it’s STEM or not, creativity, curiosity, critical thinking, system thinking and big picture thinking. All these things are critical to the skillsets or the future. How our educational system shifts to ensure that those are the things that we’re baking into our students, not beating out of them. I think it’s critical in terms of working the learning paradigm to a place where it can solve the challenges that are coming. I spend some time at the university. I spent some time in the space and of course I don’t need a Tesla.
It’s an interesting discussion about what’s going to happen. I was looking at your future scenarios, curves and things on your site. I got a look at it. There’s so much coming. Looking at what you’ve put out on your site, I could spend forever looking at all of this content. I hope people take some time to look because you have some fascinating research and I can see why your work was recommended to me. I know that you have your blog at FrankDiana.net but I wanted to know is there any other information you’d like to share and what would you like people to know.
Thanks, Diane. There is the blog with a pretty good audience and I do spend a lot of time on putting content out there. There’s also our YouTube channel title Reimagining the Future. It’s got some videos that we produced to help people grasp some of these scenarios. Autonomous vehicle overwhelmness is going a couple of good scenarios and other that people can look at. My message to this audience would be the same to anyone else and that is right now, it’s about education and awareness. If we don’t start focusing on these scenarios, how they might emerge, what they might mean to society is that the society wants in 20 to 30 years, which is the question I ask audiences. Is this what we want? It probably likely happens to us as opposed to creating a future. One key point because I do show two scenarios, two paths, a green path and the red path. The green path is all this innovation leads to a much more prosperous society with our well-being elevated again and the red path that has a whole bunch of unintended consequences that we don’t want as a society. Managing the subway map is critical for us as leaders.
We only scratched the surface but I enjoyed having you on the show, Frank. Thank you so much for joining me.
It’s a pleasure being here. Thanks for having me.
Creating A Fragrant Experience With Sue Phillips
I am here with Sue Phillips, who is the CEO and Founder of Scenterprises. She’s a globally recognized expert of fragrance, cosmetics and personal care. Her background is fascinating. I’m going to let you tell it, Sue, because you’ve done so many things from Elizabeth Arden to Lancôme. The list is so long. Can you give me a little background on how you got to this point?
Thank you so much. I’m so thrilled to be on and thank you for the opportunity. I like to call myself a scentrepreneur because I am an entrepreneur that has been in the fragrance industry. I coined the term scentrepreneur and trademarked it and everything that I do these days is around scents. My company is Scenterprises. I have a lovey perfume studio in Tribeca, New York called The Scentarium. We create and offer scentertaining events and I sign my emails, “Scentfully, Sue.” I know it’s a little ridiculous, but this way people know what I do. How did I get caught up in this whole wonderful world of fragrance? Actually, it’s quite by chance. I came from South Africa. You’ll know I have an accent and I always wanted to be a singer and an actress. Coming to New York, somebody said to me, “We have 25,000 out of work singers and actresses. What else do you do?”
Because I could speak in front of people, I landed up through a confluence of events at Elizabeth Arden. I became the National Training Director and I traveled around America setting up training schools for all the people who sold the fragrances at the stores. It put a motivational inspiration training event and every time I left the marketplace, they were able to see that sales increased because I was able to talk about the brands and motivate and inspire the salespeople. That’s my foray into the world of fragrances in America. They promoted me to product development and marketing for cosmetics and fragrance.
From there I went to Lancôme as Marketing Director and on men’s skincare and fragrance. Tiffany had me as Vice President of Marketing. Within those years, I had come from South Africa. I didn’t know anything about fragrance and I ended up creating and developing the first Tiffany perfume for their 150th anniversary, which was amazing. I left Tiffany. I had my daughter. I started my own consulting company, which I called Scenterprises and created fragrances for Burberry, Trish McEvoy and Lancaster. Then 2008 happened and I had to reevaluate everything because the consulting all came to an end.
Because I’m with an English background from South Africa, I had always known about the term bespoke and thought, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to come up with a line of bespoke fragrances so that people could come up and create their own fragrances as a custom fragrance initiative?” I started working from home. It eventually grew and then I opened my perfume studio in Tribeca a few years ago called The Scentarium. Briefly, it’s been very exciting because we’ve had people, Fortune 500 companies find us and we create custom fragrance events for them, corporate events and team building.
We do a lot of bridal showers. We’ve also had some high-level celebrities contact us and we’ve worked and created fragrances for Jamie Foxx and Katie Holmes and a whole bunch of them. I like to say I’m not selling perfume, but I’m selling experience and confidence in a bottle. Because when you have your own perfume and you create something that reflects your individuality and your personality, it’s so wonderful. You become very confident. People say to you, “What are you wearing?” You’ll say something like, “It’s me,” or “It’s mine.” You’ll give it a name and it fits you apart. I love to say I’m creating custom fragrance experiences for people to help build their confidence.
That’s a lot. When you say, “What are you wearing?” I can’t help but think of Marilyn Monroe with her Chanel No. 5. What they say, what do you wear to sleep?
“What do you wear to bed? Nothing, except Chanel No. 5.”
I hadn’t thought of that line in years. As you said that, I was thinking of how we talked last time because I was telling you how I’m picky on perfumes because I don’t want to have a headache or it’s too strong. You said you do some quiz with people?If you have inferior ingredients for fragrance, it will certainly cause allergies and headaches. Click To Tweet
Before I tell you about the quiz, you just said something very interesting, Diane. I have been in the fragrance industry for many years. I’ve been around for quite a while and unfortunately, I’ve never heard more complaints about headaches and allergies than I have in the last few years. Unfortunately, it is a situation that has happened because many fragrances have now been reformulated and some of the great classics that we all love and remember are no longer being able to be created because formulas change, ingredients change and some of the stringent FDA rules apply. What happens is many fragrances are now being created synthetically. Not that synthetics are bad, but a lot of times, synthetics are not as good as naturals. When I hear people say that they get headaches or allergies, it saddens me so much.
One of the things that I have aimed for and thankfully have achieved is beautiful and high-quality perfume ingredients. I’ve been doing this for many years. We’ve never had one person complain of getting headaches or allergies because it’s all in the quality. If you go to a party and if you drink cheap wine or cheap champagne, you’re going to have a horrible headache the next day. The same is true with fragrance. If you have inferior ingredients, it will certainly cause allergies and headaches. What we do is when people come in, they meet with us and many people don’t know what kind of fragrance family they like. If they happen to like floral or woodsy or a little bit more musky or spicy. They say they like a brand name Chanel, Tom Ford or Le Labo. What we do is we help and find their olfactive personality by giving a lifestyle quiz.
The lifestyle quiz can also be taken online on my website and people take the scent quiz. It’s the last personality quiz and it helps determine what fragrance direction they like. Ultimately, it concludes whether they like fresh, floral, woodsy or spicy. Either if they’re at my perfume studio, we take them on a fragrance journey and we show them all the different perfume blends and then they select three or four that they love that becomes their formula. If they take the quiz online, I’ve been with me and my team, we evaluate their results and then we create a fragrance for them based on the results of the quiz. It’s terrific because people this way can create a fragrance or get a fragrance that reflect who they are, their individuality and their personality.
As you say that, I’m thinking of the movie Perfume. What comes to mind is Dustin Hoffman sitting there in his laboratory sniffing all the different things. Is that you? Are you Dustin Hoffman?
Let’s put it this way. At least I don’t have a rational for having fragrances. He took these beautiful virgins and he created them but something like that. I have created fragrances for these major brands and also do know how to evaluate and how to blend fragrances together. I’m not a perfumer because I have not studied organic chemistry. I like to refer myself as a fragrance designer that I like the architect and I know how to help influence and how to interpret what people are saying based even on how they look, how they sound, what clothes they wear, what colors they wear whether they have in their homes. It’s interesting how people don’t think about fragrance and yet its almost powerful sense. It’s the one sense that connects memory and emotion. You can walk down the street and you can be oblivious to the sights, the sounds and the smells, yet if something smells bad and that’ll trigger something. Normally people don’t think about it. I try and make people aware and help them become a little bit more familiar and knowledgeable about fragrance and how important it is in our world.
I know my mom, she’s always worn Youth-Dew. That’s not one of my favorite fragrances, I have to admit. You could smell it when you’re about to get in the garage. She loves it so much. Do you think we don’t smell our own perfume after a while? For me, I noticed I didn’t notice mine.
Two things I used to is a very high concentration and that started out as a bath oil. It was very concentrated. It was almost at about 35% at the time because it was a bath oil and not considered a perfume. It was all right because it was oil, viscous, sticky and had a big consistency. It was very powerful and they had a very long-lasting diffusion. To answer your point about a lot of people don’t, after a while. If you were the same fragrance, unfortunately you don’t smell it and that’s a term called being anosmic, which means you can’t smell it. Sometimes what we try and do is we give people a little tests either sniff their wrist or sniff a little piece of fabric or a man can wear it as a tie to refresh your nose so that you go back and if you smell a lot of things all the time, you’d suddenly get nose fatigue. That’s one way of trying to refresh your palate. It’s like having sherbet or sorbet in the middle of the meal to refresh your palate.
I was thinking when I helped my husband pick out different scents, I tend to not like the spicy or the citrusy smells. I like the clean smell or flowery sometimes. I don’t know, whatever I go for. What would you consider Youth-Dew? That’s spicy to me. Is that not spicy?
Youth-Dew is very spicy. It’s heavy, oriental, very deep, essential and exotic. It’s interesting what you said. You said you liked sometimes fresh and sometimes floral. That’s how we help people determine what they like by taking the quiz. Many people say and many Americans say to me, “Sue, I love to smell fresh and clean.” I’ve been scared a little bit deeper. I said, “What does fresh and clean smell like?” Fresh could be something like everybody likes the smell of fresh lemons, fresh green grass, the ocean, the mountain air or the smell of rain. In those five examples, there are five different examples of fresh. Interestingly enough, many household products have the scent of lemon because lemon is considered a lovely, clean way to clean your home and so on. Sometimes the scent of Lemon Pledge is very householdy.If you really love a fragrance and you create it, then you can always wear that as your signature. Click To Tweet
I liked Spic and Span, actually. I remember I used to clean with it, whatever that smell was for the house. I’m not a citrus person and as soon as I think it’s woody or citrusy, I immediately don’t want that. It’s funny how we have these senses because we have like a memory or something of our childhood that reminds you of certain things. Is that what you think?
I would think knowing you, listening to you and seeing your beautiful picture on your beautiful face, I would say that you would like a lovely, probably a light floral. I would say that you’re with the floral category and not too heavy and spicy. Maybe a little bit of spice because you like Youth-Dew.
I don’t like Youth-Dew. My mom does. It’s my least favorite. I like gardenias, but then I don’t like it in perfume. I feel like I’ll smell like an old woman or something if I put a gardenia scent.
Do you know why that happens? In the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, a lot of the popular fragrances were very into rose and gardenia, these lovely, heavy florals. Our mothers and grandmothers wore the rose fragrances and gardenia and every time you kiss them or hug them, that’s what you smell. You immediately associate the rose and gardenia with an older woman. Fragrance and memory are so connected and fragrance and emotions. One of the things I like to talk about is how to take the rose and take the gardenia and give it a little bit of a fresh twist so it has more of a modern twist and more of a modern theme as opposed to a heavy old ladyish theme. Some of the ingredients are beautiful, but when you combine them with something else, it becomes a little bit more modern and a little bit more interesting as opposed to those old heavy floral fragrances.
They always try to spray stuff on you. When you walk through Neiman’s or Saks or wherever you go. I can remember this woman coming up with something called the dragon or something. She said it real fancy in French whatever it was and it was so heavy. For me, I need a very light fragrance. If I smell it all day, it bothers me. It’s cool that you do this where you help people figure out exactly the right fragrance. What drives me crazy is once I like something, then they stopped making it. I must have the worst taste in the world because everything I like they stop making and you get so used to something. It’s so nice you could have your custom fragrance.
You don’t have to be influenced by modern trends and what’s popular this month and next month and the flavor of the month. No. If you love a fragrance and you create it and it becomes your fragrance, then you can always wear it and that becomes your signature. You could have something for day, for night, for casual wear or something for sophisticated, but it becomes your signature and you don’t have to worry that it’s going to be discontinued because it’s not selling it at the retail and suddenly it becomes unpopular and therefore they discontinue it. That’s the problem with fragrances. You’re at the mercy of what’s current and what’s popular. If it doesn’t trend, then they discontinue it and you are left unfortunately to not having a beautiful fragrance any longer.
That’s frustrating. You see commercials where they’re dabbing it on their wrist or they’re putting it behind your ear. Are you supposed to put it someplace special? Is there a right way to do it?
That’s great that you asked. I always end my seminars and my fragrance workshops with a situation on how to wear fragrance. I always tell a little story and I even assume the French accent, which I won’t do now. Interesting enough, I used to go to Paris very often on business and all the French perfumers would say that Americans have no idea how to wear fragrance. The conventional wisdom is that you start from the bottom up and it used to be that you sprayed fragrance at the ankles. When the women with long skirts wore the fragrance, the swishing of the skirt backward and forwards would cause the fragrance to waft up. As you know, heat rises.
The idea of the fragrance coming rising from the bottom up. The idea used to be that you’d wear fragrance at the ankles, behind the knees in between the thighs, in the chest area and as Coco Chanel said, “You wear fragrance wherever you want to be kissed.” At the pulse points certainly and at the nape of the neck because fragrance does rise. That’s the way of having the fragrance envelop you. A lot of people ask me, “What about spraying fragrance in the air and walking into it? If you’re spending a lot of money on beautiful perfume, you don’t want to waste it by spraying it into the air and then it will drop on your hair. If you had shampoo, conditioner or hairspray, it’s going to distort the fragrance. Fragrance is meant to be worn on clean, moisturized and unscented skin. For instance, if you have a lovely moisturizer, which is unscented and you can always get some of these unscented moisturizers in the department stores or pharmacies this way it’s moisturized and it acts as a layer, as the base and then your fragrance can go over it so your fragrance will adhere to your body and it won’t be distorted by a different fragrance like a body lotion, a cream or something like that.
I’m doing it right or not spray it in the air. I’m doing unscented lotions. One thing I don’t know if I’m doing right correctly is I spray it on the inner part of my wrist and then I use the inner part of my wrist to rub it in other places. I don’t know where we got that. Do people do that?
A lot of people start to spray on one side of the wrist and then you rub it like crazy. Don’t rub it like crazy. Let it dry naturally because what happens is the oils on your skin would probably try and distort the fragrance, the body, the molecules on your skin and your oils will affect the fragrance. If you spray the fragrance on the inner side of the wrist or you dab it. Let it dry naturally without rubbing it like crazy because you don’t want to alter or distort the molecules.
I’m curious about your quiz now because if you’re thinking of lifestyle, I like to hike and do things that are outdoorsy but I’m a weird combination of very high maintenance. I’m the only one at the rock gym climbing with fake fingernails person. I would be very curious what you would come up with for me.
You can also go online and take it. Your audience can also go online and take it. It’s interesting because if you go to Scenterprises.com. If you go to the very end of the website, you’ll see the navigation bar. It says shop. It goes to create your own custom perfume or create your own. Take our Scent Personality Quiz and you have to fill out your name, your address, your phone number and company name. You can start taking the quiz. There is an opportunity for you to also purchase it. If you want to just take the quiz, you can do that. You can also name your perfume. List your favorite fragrances and if you want to buy it as a gift for somebody, you can include a little gift message. Take the quiz and you’ll see it’s very interactive. It’s a fun and lifestyle quiz. We ask you questions like what colors do you like. What seasons do you like? What time of day do you like? I know that you are fresh and floral for sure.
That could be a lot of things though, doesn’t it? How do you know the exact perfume?
If you take the scent quiz, I’ll be able to evaluate it for you and send you a fragrance for sure.
I’m so interested in how you do that. I hope everybody watches the movie Perfume because that was an interesting movie by the way. I didn’t think I would like it because I’m not a period piece kind of movie. It was so fascinating to think of how they all go into creating the perfect scent. You must spend a lot of time behind this? What goes into it?
Perfume making and perfumery is an art, but it’s also an amazing science. Perfumers can sometimes spend as much as five years studying ingredients, studying organic chemistry and studying how the ingredients revolve and evolve together. It’s almost like a chef, certain ingredients that we eat, you would put together. You would never take something as basic as ketchup and put it with something very luxurious like morel mushrooms. Certain ingredients don’t go together and certain ingredients do go together. That’s where perfumers study and they have in their memory bank after they’ve studied maybe 30,000 or 40,000 different ingredients that they can pull from their memory bank. What’s so fascinating is some of the fragrance ingredients can complement each other and some cannot complement each other at all. It’s a question of understanding art, the creative aspect and the science.
I’m not a perfumer. I never studied organic chemistry, but I’ve been in the fragrance industry for so long that pretty much I can understand when people say to me what fragrance they like. It comes to me, I can understand exactly what direction they want if they wanted to be a fresh floral, a spicy floral or a foodie floral. If they wanted it to be mixed with spices or woodsy notes. By talking to people and listening to people and also evaluating their quiz results, it’s fascinating to see how I can interpret their results and come up with a lovely fragrance that reflects who they are.
When you say that, it brings to mind some of these stores who tried to advertise their fragrances like you can’t walk by a Hollister or Lush or Bath and Body Works or whatever the stores are. They’re so overwhelming that it almost makes me not want to go into those stores. There can be too much of something. I love that you look into what people want and make it very personalized because I don’t think I fit the norm on that. You’ve created some amazing fragrances. I know you did the 150th anniversary of Tiffany for Men’s, Society by Burberry, Burberry for Men, the list goes on and on. I’m wondering if there was a traditional scent that people might recognize that was your favorite of the day.
That I like or that I created?
Not that you’ve created, that you wore before you started to create things. Was there one that you were drawn to? What’s your taste?
There were quite a few. There was a fragrance that I absolutely loved, which was a fragrance that was very bold and it was in the category of a sheep fur, which was like oakmoss, patchouli, leathery notes. It was called Madame Grès Cabochard. It was a beautiful fragrance. It was very bold, luxurious and exotic. It was in the area of the woodsy, the sheep fur family, meaning a very patchouli, oakmoss, leathery note. They came out with a much lighter version, which was called Cabotine. I’m talking about maybe in the ’70s and the ’80s, when I first came to America mid-1970s or early ’80s. The Cabotine was the antithesis of what was a lovely light, refreshing, very green fragrance that had a green color of a fragrance juice, we call it. It was lovely, refreshing, pretty, feminine and innocent.
What was fascinating was some of those fragrances now can’t be found. I do a talk about fragrance through the decades and I talked about some of the iconic fragrances that people would remember. Everybody knows Chanel No. 5. Do you remember Charlie by Revlon? That was a refreshing fragrance. There was the Giorgio Beverly Hills, that big bold fragrance. Many of these typical fragrances reflected the social, economic and political trends at the time which is fascinating that people can judge a decade by the fragrance.
In the ’70s, it was Charlie and then the ’80s, which was very big and bold and it was very voluptuous and that was Giorgio Beverly Hills. The ’90s, everything became a little bit more retracted and the economy shifted. Everything was very not as bold as it used to be. Every decade has an iconic fragrance that becomes representative. It’s interesting how at the time of the Millennial, when everything was going to shift around nostalgia, memories and the whole new century, people went back to the classic fragrances. They went back to the Chanels, the Shalimar, the Arpege fragrances because it helped them think about nostalgia and a whole new era.Fragrance is meant really to be worn on clean, moisturized, unscented skin. Click To Tweet
What’s interesting is at the time of now it’s all about ingredients. It seems like it’s a whole ingredient story. People are interested in either rose, wood or oud that thing. There are many fragrances that have been launched. That oud, it’s a French word for wood. One of the ingredients that is very popular right now is this lovely, creamy, agarwood or sandalwood that is very typical. It’s lovely for men and for women. What’s interesting is many of these fragrances now are being worn by unisex and it’s not defined by gender, masculine or feminine.
I noticed that sometimes I like this one fragrance my husband wears. It was Canali or something like that. It was appealing to me. It was more manly scent, but I could see having something in the middle.
It’s interesting that you talk about Canali. I had a request from somebody from the Middle East who was looking for Canali fragrance. They couldn’t find it and they want me to recreate it. It’s so interesting you talked about Canali because I’m going to be recreating a Canali fragrance.
I’ve got to talk to you about that. My sister is still obsessed with Givenchy No. 3, so I have a little bottle of it left and I’ve saved a tiny bit of it. It’d be interesting to recreate it. This has been so interesting, Sue. I appreciate it having you on the show. I wanted to see if there were any links to anything else you’d like to share?
It’s been so much fun and I thank you so much, Diane. It is so lovely to meet you. You’ve had such an amazing career. For people who would love to learn about fragrance, I would love to talk to them. They could certainly contact me at Info@Scenterprises.com and they can find me on Facebook and Instagram. I have three Instagram pages because I have @ScentfullySue because I always signed my emails, “Scentfully Sue.” My company name is Scenterprises so I have @Scenterprises and then @TheScentarium. If you google Sue Phillips fragrance, I’m sure they’ll find it.
I’m sure that you have so much great information on your sites, but I am going to take that quiz and next time I’m in Tribeca, I’ve got to check out The Scentarium.
It would be my pleasure. I’d love to see you and take you on a fragrance journey for sure.
That would be fun and you were so nice to offer that the last time we spoke. I’m definitely going to take you up on it someday and thank you so much for being on the show.
Thank you for the opportunity. I loved it.
I’d like to thank Frank and Sue for being my guests. We get so many great guests. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
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About Frank Diana
Frank Diana is a recognized futurist, thought leader and frequent keynote speaker. He has served in various executive roles throughout his career and has over 30 years of leadership experience. At TCS, he is a thought leader and advisor in the context of business, societal and economic evolution.
He blends a futurist perspective with a pragmatic, actionable approach – leveraging horizon scanning and storytelling to see possible futures. His leadership experience obtained through various executive roles connects practical realities with the need to focus on an emerging future filled with complexity and change.
About Sue Phillips
Sue Phillips, CEO & Founder of Scenterprises LTD, is a globally-recognized expert of fragrance, cosmetics and personal care. Sue has launched product development and branding campaigns for some of the world’s leading fragrance brands.
She created the 150th-anniversary “TIFFANY,” “Tiffany for Men”, “Society by Burberry,” and “Burberry for Men” fragrances and developed the original three eponymous Trish McEvoy fragrances. Sue opened New York’s newest perfumery THE SCENTARIUM located in downtown TriBeCa where she presents custom fragrance.
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