We’ve come to the end of another week and so it’s Foodie Friday time. Today, I’m going to make up for omitting the TunesDay post last Tuesday and combine music and food (and yes, they of course lead to business). Perfect pitch is the ability of a person to listen to a piece of music and tell you (or play) in what key the piece is written without the benefit of hearing a reference tone – a known note to which they can compare it. In other words, it’s much easier to know that something is written in A minor if you hear a Middle C before it plays.
I think there is perfect pitch in the kitchen as well. There are those cooks who can recreate a dish or break it down having tasted it once. They also seem to know what the folks eating their food want on a plate. They can “hear” the palates of their customers perfectly. Food is very much like music in that when a note is even slightly off it’s noticeable and off-putting. Great cooks keep the flavors in harmony and in tune.
In both cases, having perfect pitch assures that the harmonies are tight. The Beach Boys or Crosby, Stills, and Nash are perfect examples. The harmonious mix of flavors in a well-executed braise is another. The overtones – harmonics that surround the musical or culinary compositions – resonate perfectly. Think about Jimi Hendrix’s brilliant use of feedback (overtones, kids) and you’ll get an idea of what I mean. Done badly, it’s just awful. Done right, it’s a classic.
As businesspeople, most of us aren’t born with perfect pitch. I certainly wasn’t in any of the three roles – musician, cook, or executive. What we can do is work on having perfect relative pitch. Once we get some sort of reference tone we can take it from there with confidence. We need to train our ears to find that tone and then proceed keeping it in mind. In business, that tone comes from customers. Once we have it, we should have already trained ourselves to listen to the harmonics and make sure they’re in tune as well.
Success in music, the kitchen, and the boardroom all come from listening with a trained ear. If we have the gift of perfect pitch, it’s an invaluable asset. If we don’t, we need to train ourselves to mimic perfect pitch behavior based on a solid starting point and never lose sight of that reference point. Hard to do, I know, but the rewards are worth it. Wouldn’t you agree?