photo of a cat
Why is it more fun to talk about my cat than my business?
Funny story.

I was talking to a very no bullshit venture founder about what we are doing at Lake Marie. After 15 seconds, he respectfully interrupted me and said he had two questions.

Fire away. I responded.

His first question was, “Why is there a picture of your cat on your home page?”

We both laughed, and I said I would answer his question, but first needed to ask him a quick question.

I asked, “You have more than 250 companies in your portfolio. What’s your best guess on how many CEOs in your portfolio love their web site?”

His answer, “That is easy. Zero.”

My response, “Well, that’s what I guessed you would say. And now here’s the answer to your question. I have a picture of my cat Charlie on my website because I love him very much. And when I visit my site, it makes me happy. It makes me love my website.”

He joked, “Well maybe that’s a unique new web strategy, perhaps we should all add our pets to our websites.”

His second question was, “Why is your shop called Lake Marie?”

I responded with a story.

“One New Year’s Eve 2018 at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee - I was lucky enough to find myself front row center watching Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats enthusiastically open for one of the greatest singer songwriters in history - John Prine.”

“When Prine took the stage, you could hear a pin drop out of reverence. The audience soaked up every lyric, to every song, as Prine and his band led us all into the new year.”

“Then, one song cast a spell on everybody. I looked left and right, and there was not a dry eye in the house. As Prine and his band sang that magical chorus of ‘ohhh-ay-ooohh-ay-oh’ the song Lake Marie was forever embedded into my life and heart.”

“Lake Marie is my favorite song. And that’s why my business is called Lake Marie. Because every time I send an email, schedule a meeting, or anything related to Lake Marie, it takes me back to that beautiful moment, and it makes me happy.”

Our conversation continued. We spoke about his family, his daughters, his adventures, and how proud he was for his portfolio companies continuing to grow and advance despite the world’s troubles and conflicts.

Then, we started talking about his business. I listened carefully, biting my tongue to not interrupt. For 45 minutes, he unpacked all of his thoughts, details, and challenges and why he was looking for help.

As we wrapped up, I asked permission to share one observation.

He said yes, and I commented.

“This conversation is why I am back in business.

You see, when we were talking about my silly cat, or your adventures with your family, your kids, and the early days of your business - your eyes were big and bright - and your face was flushed. That’s because these stories were full of love and joy.”

“Then, when we got down to business. We just spent 45 minutes talking about facts, data, insights, actions - your eyes changed, your shoulders got tight, and those rosy cheeks were long gone…”

He joked, “Damn, I guess it was more fun to talk about your cat than my business…”

I joked, “Well that’s why we want to help CEOs and business leaders talk about their businesses with the same love and joy as they do for their family - or at least their pets. I mean, why not? We all spend more time at our work than anywhere else - me might as well find joy in explaining what we do all day!”
Storytelling is at the heart of everything we do

The Lost Art of Storytelling 

We help companies create powerful and wildly captivating stories that villainize the problem they’re solving, dramatize the products they’re selling and champion their customers. We start with stories, because they are the most natural way that humans communicate. Great stories are naturally memorable. They are authentically believable. And they are easy and fun to pass along. And the stories that are filled with love, joy and passion - the ones that are told through the eyes. These stories move people.

Don’t take our word for it, take the word of Harvard Business Review...

“Stories have been implanted in you thousands of times since your mother took you on her knee. You’ve read good books, seen movies, attended plays. What’s more, human beings naturally want to work through stories. Cognitive psychologists describe how the human mind, in its attempt to understand and remember, assembles the bits and pieces of experience into a story, beginning with a personal desire, a life objective, and then portraying the struggle against the forces that block that desire. Stories are how we remember; we tend to forget lists and bullet points.”

But, What Good is a Story That You Can’t Control? 

In business, stories are delivered through narratives. A narrative is hooking a story around a very specific context. For example, you can form a narrative around your products, your customers, your people, your culture, and your industry and category. They all stem from the same bedrock, but are bent and tuned to tackle a specific topic. 

black and white drawing of  at a desk in a cabin overlooking a lake
Controlling the Narrative

Narrative Control is a Decision

In business, there are two universal truths:

  1. You are either in control of your narrative.
  2. Or, you are not in control of your narrative.

Narrative control is the process of influencing and ultimately commanding the conversation. Over time, as narrative control allows companies to become synonymous with a particular topic or trend, organizations can position themselves as thought-leaders on macroeconomic issues, trailblazers in unprecedented technology shifts and innovators in new, exciting categories.

We help companies lock in a process for creating their narratives, hooking these narratives into specific topics, and maintaining control over these narratives over time through precise execution techniques.

What to expect

Our Work

  • We work fast. Our typical engagement is completed in a few days.
  • The best indicator of success is that the head of sales steals the decks and she starts using them in her next set of meetings.
  • If you can’t use our work instantly, then you don’t pay us.
black and white drawing of a man in a cabin looking out a window
Why Lake Marie?

Our Obsession

  • This is where Lake Marie comes in. We are obsessed with helping companies bring storytelling back into their businesses.
  • We are obsessed with helping companies talk about their businesses with the same love and joy as they talk about their lives, families and friends.
  • We are obsessed with helping companies naturally hook these stories into their day to day business narratives with customers, influencers, buyers, partners, and investors.
  • We are obsessed with helping companies control those narratives over time with precise execution techniques via public relations, social media, marketing campaigns, and analyst relations to name a few.
black and white drawing of a cabin overlooking a lake
black and white photo of two people by a campfire

Our People

Dave Peterson is the co-author of the best selling book Play Bigger, he is still dusting off from his operating days as Celonis CMO. Before that he was a CMO at a bunch of companies that got acquired, and helped readers of his book sort out what they should do with their innovations and ideas.

For more, here’s Dave’s very non-traditional abuse of Linked-In.

Dave may work solo, but prefers to work with his partner in crime, Cole Schafer.

Cole is a multi-hyphenated writer, poet, and wordsmith. He is renowned for producing what can only be described as drop-dead gorgeous copy for businesses of all types. He publishes books, poetry, and helps companies through his agency Honey Copy. And no, he does not have a cat on his website. But he has a very cool dog that never leaves his side.

Dave & Cole like to work, eat, drink together while roaming the planet solving business problems - all by helping companies create and control their stories and narratives.