My newest adventure with Michael Companies

The summit. Most people view it as an ultimate achievement……a tangible destination and the highest reward for a long climb. 

As for me? I favor the climb itself – the adventure of it. 

Don’t get me wrong. Summits are great. They offer killer photo opps and a moment to pause, reflect and celebrate. Summits are an outcome and an end. This latter point is why I’m all about the adventure. I savor those spaces between a climb’s start and the final objective. That’s the true adventure, and it’s what drives me. 

Here’s why: ultimately, those spaces represent moments with clients I serve and the teams I lead as CEO of The Buddy Group, the storydriven strategy and marketing company I founded in 2006. Through them, shared stories of impact, triumph and hilarity manifest themselves, sparking memories that all of us involved will talk about for the rest of our lives.

We know that together we climbed. Together, we identified and navigated opportunities and challenges. Together, we learned. Together, we charted a brilliant course and executed with purpose. 

Importantly, I know that if I’m present to the adventure and everyone on it, summiting will be that much sweeter. 

With this said, today I’m excited to talk about my latest, brand new adventure. One of our Buddy Group clients, Michaels Company (NASDAQ: MIK) asked me to take the reins as its Head of Innovation (or Chief of Innovation in some circles). In doing so, I will remain as CEO of The Buddy Group; an opportunity made possible by the capable tenured leadership team we all commonly refer to as “Buddies”.

For me, serving in this dual capacity coalesces the whole of my professional journey. Throughout my career, I have collaborated with artists and technologists, focusing on the strategic and execution-centered components of branding, marketing, storytelling and technology. All of this expertise has been dedicated to drawing brands and their communities closer together. 

In the case of Michaels, a creative, technology-forward company in its own right, it is their commitment to customer and community that has proven both inspiring and powerful. Unlike many other innovative firms that build a product in search of an audience, Michaels is (literally) made by Makers – individual artists and entrepreneurs who leverage the company to create one-of-a-kind, small batch or scaleable items such as jewelry, food, art and clothes for selling or for sheer joy. Because Michaels has undertaken an ambitious collaboration with this uncommonly dedicated group, the company is positioned to co-create unique maker-centric experiences within the $100 billion Creative Economy. 

The Buddy Group’s close work with Michaels senior leadership to-date in this endeavor made their offer irresistible and I’ve agreed to our new adventure together for two key reasons. 

First, I have a heart for makers. In many ways I’m one of them. My early creative adventuring sparked the flames of entrepreneurship, teaching me that nothing comes easy, that quality counts and that leaning in to talent and passion is a huge competitive advantage. 

As I pursued my education and career I grew to appreciate the spirit of collaboration and the power of story. Working day in and day out with and learning from artists and creators such as, Ashton Kutcher, Google’s Zoo team, early product development at AOL, members of the Pentel of America’s Creative Collective and our own in-house creative talent over the years provided me perspective on empathy and appreciation for accomplishing adventures together vs. alone. Said another way and to leverage our early company mantra, I learned that buddies working together are always better than one working alone.

Second, what I’m doing at Michaels will directly shape and evolve what we do at The Buddy Group. It will inform how we design and execute our storydriven strategies in service to drawing our current lineup of brands and the communities they serve closer together. That means we’ll continue applying what we call Adventure Capital – a blend of strategic and tactical solutions optimized for the likes of Epson, GE, YouTube/Google, Mozilla, Bosch, King’s Hawaiian Bread, Pentel of America, TakeyaUSA, Western Digital, Blaze Pizza, Bain Capital portfolio clients such as Virgin Voyages, BigTex, HealthDrive, Zelis, Vertafore, and yes, Michaels. – in ways that catapult these exceptional brands to the forefront of the markets they serve. We all know the importance of having empathy for the customer- this move enables us to live as the customer and continue to provide value in the process and programs we support.

So, for The Buddy Group and me, these are exciting times. As I spend a majority of my time over the next year on Michaels, know that your Buddies are here, and we’d always like to share more about what we do and how we do it. Here’s how:

To understand and access our storydriven expertise in ways that can directly impact your business, brand and marketing trajectory, connect with Buddy Group Vice President David Ferguson or Director of Production Jonathan Neubauer by visiting

The best way to connect with me and the entire ecosystem of makers, technologists, business leaders and brand experts in my community, follow me on Twitter @mybuddypeted.

To learn more about the vision and passion of the Michaels leadership team, click here

The Buddy Group’s Chief Buddy Pete Deutschman Takes On Head of Innovation Role at Michaels Companies from Pete Deutschman on Vimeo.

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