The talking stick, a tool used in many ancient cultures, allows members in a gathering to express their point of view. This beautifully carved and decorated stick is passed from person to person, and only the person speaking is allowed to talk during that time period. The talking stick is used to teach children, hold council, make decisions, conduct ceremonies, and in storytelling circles. This powerful tool inspired the name Story Stick. The ethos of the Story Stick permeates the work and the culture of the company. Today it guides the way we brainstorm, share ideas, and interact with all members of a project team.
Our size belies our experience. Our founders, Martha and Michael Pettee, have wide and deep experience in their crafts. Together at large global agencies, they have created and produced award-winning work for both Fortune 100 companies and local start-ups. Their network of talented partners is rich, and they started Story Stick to be able to do what they love with people they love all over the world.
Personal and nimble, Story Stick is small by design. Every new full-time employee is immediately immersed in big ideas and learns to make them happen around the block and around the world. And with our global team of partners and talent to draw upon, no challenge has proven too big for our britches.
Whether we’re shooting videos in Sweden or Abu Dhabi, producing events in France, Minneapolis, or Kuala Lumpur, delivering a message in Chinese or American English, we know how to be culturally relevant and successfully execute anywhere in the world.
We start every project by listening and learning. We aren’t afraid to ask questions and get the story right before moving on. We want to get every scrap of information we can to help us build a better solution, one that will stir both hearts and minds.
Next we think. We strategize, empathize, summarize, and emphasize. We dream up solutions that will achieve your specific communication objectives. What’s more, we want you to get in on the fun. We love to have our clients in on strategic and creative development, not only to gain buy-in as we go, but because we know the best idea can and does come from anyone on the team.
Finally, we DO. We write, we shoot video, we program, we sketch, we design, we record, we build. We do what we need to do to bring the ideas and stories to life.
After all that, we celebrate and evaluate. And the truth is, we live through the let-down. The rush of the creative experience is addictive. Did we mention that love has everything to do with what we do?
As the leader for all things strategic and creative, Martha is a lightning-fast thinker who has the energy and single-mindedness to create something from nothing. She loves working with clients and teams and has the courage to start with the blank piece of paper and bring new thinking to a challenge.
“What you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and magic in it. Begin it now.”
As executive producer and director of operations, Michael has literally moved mountains in event production – he once created an earthen stage at the base of Keystone mountain for the Subaru Outback launch. That vision, tenacity and attention to detail are applied to video, digital, and events big and small.
“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”
Before moving to the agency realm, Christie was our client in the corporate world. She has strategized, written, and managed work for widely diverse audiences and industries. Christie believes that communications is best played as a team sport with a give-and-take process, and that the key to success is considering everyone—colleagues and clients alike—her customer. And an inveterate DIYer, we’re pretty sure she must have plaster and sawdust in her DNA!
“Break stupid rules—and most of them are.”
Originally from Chicago, Yena settled in St. Paul after attending the University of Minnesota where she majored in Psychology and English Literature. A devoted food-lover, Yena is a polyglot with a passion for spreadsheets, organization, and problem-solving. When she’s not at Story Stick she can be found looking for the best iced latte – even during the Minnesota winters.
A creator is someone who creates their own impossibilities, and thereby creates possibilities.
With a background in creating custom editorial magazines for a variety of clients, Sara loves crafting and listening to a good story. She loves to work together with both the clients and creative teams to be a positive voice and create something everyone is proud of. Sara has a flair for fashion, and besides holding a journalism degree from Iowa State University, also has a degree in apparel merchandising and design. When not at Story Stick Sara enjoys being active, reading, shopping, cooking and exploring the great state of Minnesota.
"The noblest art is that of making others happy."
As a world traveler and dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the United States, Michelle has a passion for discovering new ways of thinking and problem solving. A millennial, Michelle is open to new possibilities and brings a fresh design esthetic to her work. Michelle believes great design and coffee are inseparable and she is never seen without a cup on her desk.
Design is where science and art break even.
Good writing anticipates a reader’s questions and makes even challenging information easy to grasp. That’s been Maggie’s philosophy for over 15 years as she’s used her skills to help businesses craft unique stories designed to capture attention and market share.
“Sweet, crazy conversations full of half sentences, daydreams and misunderstandings more thrilling than understanding could ever be.”
Whenever Bill is in a situation that seems out of control, he’ll leap in to unravel the mess. He loves square pegs in square holes and to make sense of things, to create order out of chaos. He does data management, procedures and system development, coaching, project and production management. We wouldn’t be who we are without him.
"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.”
It’s a shorter list to describe what Dennis doesn’t do! He composes music, performs, produces, and writes all kinds of communications. Plus, he speaks perfect French. C’est vrai!
"You know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly!"
Eric specializes in interactive design solutions, user interface, and user experience. After starting his career in product design, he’s taken his user-centric product design approaches and applied them to the digital world. He has developed and managed websites and interactive pieces for both B2B and B2C audiences over the last 10 years.
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
Ann has designed hundreds of brochures, print, digital and video pieces for a variety of clients. She is adept at embracing a corporate design language and making it feel fresh. Ann has worked with Martha and Michael on projects since 1995.
“Be bold. Or italic. Never regular.”
A visual storyteller, Jeff shoots and edits video and stills. His unique vision comes from a long career as a creative in a variety of agency settings, from promotions to experiential marketing. Just like SUB POP, a record label he loves, Jeff "enjoys laughter, good times, and the company of friends."
“Difficult takes a day. Impossible takes a week.”
With an MFA in Stage Design, Jim has 25 years of experience designing all kinds of 3-dimensional spaces – sets for TV commercials and corporate theater, museums, exhibits (including “Innoventions” at EPCOT), restaurants, retail and corporate experience centers. Jim has designed for theaters around the US, including the national tours of Sesame Street Live, and the rock musical, Aida.
"To draw you must close your eyes and sing."