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2006: Issue 13

Oooow, Ahhhh

Yes, it is that time of year when fireworks abound as we celebrate our nation’s birthday.   I enjoy the aerial shows, and am one of many who spontaneously sound out, “oooow, ahhhh” as I watch the spectacular sights unfold.

I have always wondered how fireworks are made, and perhaps one day will tour a factory to understand or better yet, find one of the craftsmen to tell me.  In the meantime, I read an article about an artificier—the French word referring to someone professionally engaged in pyrotechnic arts--and realized that manufacturing the firework may be the easy part.  Putting together an aerial pyrotechnic show that creates the magic, the splendor, the illumination that elicits “oooows and ahhhhs” from the audience over and over again is the real challenge.

Mr. Hale, the artificier, describes how he composes his shows, focusing first and foremost on safety and adherence to the rigorous state and federal regulations that oversee the industry.  Then he mentions the importance of knowing his venue, clarifying the customer’s expectations, planning for the expected and unexpected, and ultimately, delegating to a reliable team so that the show has the best chance of “going off” as planned. 

I had never realized how much work, thought, time, and creativity goes into a fireworks show….isn’t that true of so much in life.  We rarely see the behind the scenes work that is so critical to a successful performance, of any type, that at times we tend to discount the value.  I see many examples of this in my daily work, from the technician turned manager who is given one day of orientation and sent out to lead; or the receptionist who after an hour with his boss is put on the front line; or the physician whose completed residency is deemed enough of a qualification that she is ready to “build her practice.”    And we wonder why we have so many problems. 

Fortunately, I also see the examples of those who like Mr. Hale, get it.  They know that to realize the optimal benefit of having the critical technical skills, they must recognize the interdependence on the artistic skills.  They know this takes practice, experience, exposure, guidance, planning and thought, and they are willing to invest resources in what many see as the invaluable or minimally valuable intangibles.  By doing so, they get the “oooows and ahhhs” that escape the rest.

While we are all not artificers, we are artists for every day we are creating an outcome through our actions, and we optimize that outcome when we appreciate both the technical and artistic skills that created it. 

As you watch this July 4th fireworks, remember Mr. Hale. And think about what you can do to elicit the “oooows and ahhhhs” from your customers.    


  1. Celebrate our nation’s birthday by watching a aerial pyrotechnics display. 
  2. Appreciate the amount of technical and artistic work that went into creating that display.
  3. Commit to developing your artistic skills so that you and others realize the full benefit of your technical skills. 

Janet Crawford, MHA, MBA
Professional Certified Coach

David Scheiderer, MD, MBA
Executive Coach

Tiberius Rx ... written for professionals who defy the law of average and want to explore, experience and excel in all aspects of their life.

“Fireworks are …art, science, history, and culture, all rolled into one experience.”
– Jeff Hale, Artificier

“Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art.”
– Twyla Tharp


It is time for the next evolution of Extra Ordinary Living. Stay tuned for additional details as we continue to explore and experience better ways of optimizing our results.