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Telling Stories in Business + Theater with Peter Davis

Podcast published: May 17, 2024

We connect and spend time with Peter Davis, owner and brand story strategist with Hero’s Quest Consulting. Peter explains business as theater, walking us through the power and value that stories can play in the marketplace for both businesses and nonprofits. Based in Oxford, Pa, Peter is an engaging and dynamic conversationalist – and this conversation offers many insights for local area leaders.

Liam Dempsey: Welcome to Start Local, where we talk with business owners, leaders of nonprofits, and other members of our community focused on doing business in and around Chester County, Pennsylvania. Each episode will provide insight into the local business scene and tell you about opportunities to connect with and support businesses and nonprofits in your local area.

Joe Casabona: The Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce promotes the trade commerce industry and sustainable economic development while supporting a diverse and growing marketplace. The Chamber is proud to partner with the Start Local podcast to raise the profile of businesses and nonprofits throughout Chester County. Learn more about the chamber at scccc.com. That’s scccc.com.

Liam Dempsey: Welcome to Start Local, where we connect with local leaders to support local businesses and non-profit organizations in and around Chester County, Pennsylvania. I’m Liam Dempsey, and I’m here with my podcast cohost, Joe Casabona. Joe, how are you?

Joe Casabona: I’m great, Liam. How are you?

Liam Dempsey: I am fantastic. It is a sunny day where we’re where we’re recording today, and I am delighted by that.

Joe Casabona: Likewise.

Liam Dempsey: Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. Folks, today, we’re speaking with Peter Davis, owner and brand story strategist with Hero’s Quest Consulting based down in Oxford, Pennsylvania. Peter brings more than 25 years of experience in, wait for it, both business and the arts. Welcome, Peter.

Peter Davis: Thank you. Great to be here. Thank you, Joe. Thank you, Liam.

Joe Casabona: Thanks for being here, Peter. I really appreciate it. Excited to chat with you today.

Peter Davis:  Likewise. 

Liam Dempsey: Peter, you talk passionately about how business is theater. That’s not a description that I think most people would come to naturally. But you strongly believe that. Talk us through that. How is business a theater?

Peter Davis: They both begin with a story that establishes some premise, a big idea, or a problem that needs to be solved. In theater, it’s a playwright. In business, it’s an entrepreneur, a CEO, a founder. It could go and you can go down the food chain within an organization. It could be a department. It could be someone who’s spearheading an event to raise money. Whatever it is, it all begins with an idea or a premise or a story. In both worlds, theater, and business, a leader is taking us to a place or even a feeling that we’ve never been to before that we’ve never experienced before. This is called a vision. 

A vision is just laying out the story of what the future looks like when we accomplish when we’re done with the journey together towards some shared purpose, both in business and in theater. And it’s a leap of faith. Am I gonna work for this guy who’s starting a business? I don’t know if it’s gonna succeed or fail, but it’s a strong vision. He’s got he or she has charisma. They seem to have it all together. I’m in. And that’s where they’re very, very similar. 

In both, we stage our products. We advertise our products and services in a way that we’re trying to attract people who actually either want to buy the product or service or buy a ticket to see that particular kind of show. That’s branding. And theater people have been doing this since the dawn of theater, and business got wise to it. If you look at all the legendary brands, they’re doing it. They get it. They get it totally. Every touchpoint, every engagement with the customer is an opportunity to do a piece of theater and elevate the presentation.

In theater, we do it with lights, sound, props, costumes, and business. They do it with websites, events, social media, advertising, and print material. It is we’re all doing the same thing. We just sometimes, we use different words, but frankly, business has been appropriating a lot of theater language from the get go. So that’s the proof in the pudding for me.

And in the end, aren’t we all judged on our performance? And if the audience is happy, we get to do it again. We get to sell the thing again. We get to offer the offering again. We get to open the curtain again the next night, and everybody’s happy. We all get reviewed. We’re all judged on our performance. So you can engineer it backwards. You can engineer it forward from the story, and there’s so much overlap. The more that I think business people are willing to accept this and work it, it’s one more thing they can one more tool or one more arrow in their quiver that they can use to gain competitive advantage, and I’m here to help them out with that.

Joe Casabona: I love that. And on that note, in your LinkedIn profile, you describe yourself as a brand story strategist which begs the question, what is a brand story? And while you’re at it, could you share why it’s important to have a strategy for a brand story?

Peter Davis: I’ll start with strategy. As it relates to brand story, there are 3 foundational elements to brand strategy. Positioning, relevance, difference. On their own, each on their own is very powerful. Working in harmony, you have an opportunity to create new value rather than compete for the value that has already been created by others before you. And that’s a very powerful place to be where you’re creating something new. That’s real value. Otherwise, it’s just an improvement. It’s just an iteration of something. You know, in the fifties, branding had a lot to do with, well, more. You get more for your dollar. You know? 30% more or it’s better or it’s faster, whatever it is. Now it’s,  now it’s different.

Competitive advantage can only be achieved really through the creation of something rather than just competing for what has already been done. And if you accept the shift, now you’re in complete control of what you do both strategically and operationally because you’re creating something new from within instead of looking around to see what the marketplace and other people are doing and just trying to copy them. And then eventually, you’re you’re stuck in a spot where you’re competing on price.

So one of the simplest ways to elevate perceived value is give it a story. Just elevate it. Change the context a little bit. Positioning is very simple. That’s one, that’s the first ingredient, the first leg of the stool. You’re either first best or you’re different. Relevance, very simple. What’s your why? And push it a step further and let us know what’s in it for us if you get what you want.

And being different, that’s elemental. It wants to be elemental, probably a value or a worldview or a belief system, and ownable. Something that you can say, we’re the only ones that think this way, behave this way, have this particular skill set, have this particular point of view that gains insight that other people, you know, that kind of thing. So positioning relevance difference. 

The brand story also has 3 legs of a stool. Purpose, vision, mission. Purpose, vision, mission. And if you filter that through a classic Aristotle 3-act story arc with your customer as the protagonist, you’ve got a story.

Liam Dempsey: So we’re gonna keep focusing on storytelling here. We’re going all in here, Peter. 

Peter Davis: All right.

Liam Dempsey: Storytelling matters to you. I could tell that just in the first few answers that you shared with us. But unpack for us, why do you see storytelling as such a key skill for those in leadership, whether it’s in a business or nonprofit? Why is that such an important skill in your view for leaders?

Peter Davis: The point of story, any story, is to deliver meaning. A nursery rhyme is a cautionary tale for children. Jack and Jill went up the hill. Don’t go into the woods after dark. You know, they’re all cautionary tales. And they stand the test of time because they’re universal, and when we listen to them, they’re personal. 

Mythology delivers meaning as well or better than anything, and mythology clearly has stood the test of time, and that’s why it’s called mythology. These are stories that tell you not only how to live, but how to die. And pass to whatever afterlife you believe in. So how to live your life is. And so if you’re a leader,you’re trying to establish, why are we doing, why are we setting off to do what we’re about to do? Something needs to change. I’ve identified what needs to change, and why we should be the ones to change it. If you’re asking me to go out and do battle in the marketplace, which is very competitive, can change on a dime, where rejection is standard, I need a story, a worthy story to get me up out of bed and out there to slay the dragon every day. And the power of storytelling well, Gandhi to the British, you’re no longer a guest. Please leave. And you just did variations of that until they left. MLK, I have a dream.

One day children, our children will be judged on their character, not on the color of their skin. JFK, we’re gonna put a man on the moon by the end of the decade not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard. And these stories take on a life of their own even when, like in Kennedy’s case, he dies, the author of the story’s dead, but the story takes on a life of its own, and they fulfill that early. 

So being able to describe the better state that the leader wants to take us to, and what is required to get us there with an invitation to participate can be very powerful. Also, in storytelling, like with mythology or nursery rhymes, behavior is modeled. How to live, how to behave, what values dictate our decision making. So things like values and aesthetics are either declared or implied in the storytelling, and so it’s it’s a culture beacon that attracts like-minded people to that culture. 

Nike has a particular culture. You know, Avis, we try harder, has a completely different culture. But you want your story to attract people who share your worldview and your values and see themselves playing a role in that adventure to get to that better state, whether that better state is literal or figurative. It could be a feeling.

Liam Dempsey: That’s awesome.

Joe Casabona: I love this, but let’s let’s get her a quick reality check here. Right? I’m currently reading Stories That Stick by Kindra Hall. Don Miller has obviously built like a whole empire out of the the idea of the hero’s journey. Storytelling in business is very trendy these days. Story-weaving mavens offer guidance on social media, promising quick sales, Help us step away from that hype. You mentioned this a little bit earlier, but where does the value of storytelling really sit?

Peter Davis: Clarity, communication, cooperation, consistency, creativity, connection. These are business issues. These are life skills. Story is not one of many things that leads to a sale. Story is the engine that drives all business benefits. Think of story as a deep well of which you draw buckets that are called business strategy, recruiting, branding, marketing, sales, social media, events, whatever it is. Story isn’t one of those. Story is the deep well from which all those things come from.

So, if you’re struggling in sales and you call Peter Davis or Hero’s Quest Consulting to fix a sales problem or a marketing problem and think story is a band-aid for that, it’s not gonna work. I mean, I’ll get you a better story, a more compelling story, but that’s a band-aid. That’s not that’s not systemic. That doesn’t go to the root of anything. Story goes to the root of everything. So that’s my answer to that. 

And, you know, 2025 years ago, I read a book called Business as Theater and the premise was, that we’re now this is 25 years ago, 2 decades ago. We’re in the experience economy where people are looking for experiences and meaning and that kind of thing and sharing values and all of that. I mean, if I got a choice between 3 different products, I’m gonna take the one  that I share values with. And if that leadership can make those values clear, that’s a beacon to me. There are any number of European high-performance vehicles that one could buy if you have a lot of money. The woman with kids that takes them to the soccer games every weekend is probably going for the Volvo because it’s safe. That I mean, you think of Volvo and you think safety, you know? I mean, they’ve got the same engines, the same horsepower, the same all wheel drives, but safety is their thing. BMW performance. Mercedes, world-class leadership in in the field. You know? So you’re either first, best, or different.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. I love that. And just to draw on something I read from Stories That Stick. You know, I think you said, like, not everything is a story. Kindra mentioned in the book, like, people think that they tell a story, and it’s really just like an about page that doesn’t follow the actual story structure. 

Peter Davis: That’s right.

Joe Casabona: But the the most impactful part of the book so far for me is when she talks about how she helped, Extra Gum, or how Extra learned that, people are just buying gum without thinking about it and how they tell a story about why Extra Gum is really about connection and relationships and how that helped increase their sales. So that was very I mean, story can be very impactful, and I really love what you said there. 

Peter Davis: Thank You.

Liam Dempsey: Peter, you shared with us that all businesses are selling 1 of 4 items, and I guess I’d add on to it then. Nonprofits are delivering, offering, and providing for those in need. Again, one of 4 items. And you describe these big bucket offerings as happiness, safety, community, or goal achievement. That’s an interesting perspective. I think I’m with you on that, but tell me more about that. Explain that to me. How do you see it that way?

Peter Davis: I’m gonna try to be as simple as I can because this is a concept 

Liam Dempsey: Thank you. I’m rather slow-minded.

Peter Davis: This is a concept that I borrowed from Jungian Archetypes. And there are a couple of authors who wrote a book on archetype, brand, using archetypes as a way to express the core of your brand. And so they broke it down into these 4 basic human motivations that can be expressed through different archetypes. So I’m in the achievement business. I’m trying to help whoever takes it to the next level using leadership/storytelling skills and so on, to better make their case for whatever it is that they want.

I joined the chamber of Commerce. I’m joining a community. I wanna be a part of the business community, not just any business community, but the ones that care and are motivated to give back to their communities. So that’s selling, offering community. You know, we wear tattoos, tribal tattoos, Japanese tattoos. We’re all signifying different kinds of communities with those things. And those are important to people. You know, you sell insurance, you’re in the safety business. You’re a banker, you’re in the safety business or protection or whatever you wanna call it. You take your family to Disney, you’re buying happiness. That’s what they guarantee, and they use magic to deliver happiness. They use magic to deliver happiness. You go to the magic kingdom and there it is. 

So if I’m a ruler archetype, all-knowing, all-kind benevolent, all that. I’m here to keep you safe. I’m here to give your world structure, and that may be financial structure as with the bank. It could be American Express is the number one you know, the elite card for executive, you know? So I’m often asking people, particularly nonprofits, what is it that you’re selling? Community, safety, happiness. Most nonprofits aren’t in the happiness game, but they’re certainly in the safety, and they’re certainly in the achievement, and they’re certainly in the membership. 

Getting too deep into archetypes is just a whole new podcast. It’s a whole new subject that requires an expert. And I rarely tell clients that I’m relying on archetypal disciplines because they like, woah. Too heavy. But I do all the time. 

When you’re marketing and you’re branding and you’re doing all that and you’re selling a transformation from unhappy to happy, let’s say, or unsafe to safe. We spend so much time marketing and advertising the device or the mechanism that gets us there instead of the transformation itself. So gum, I don’t that’s a delivery of the example, Joe, that you were using of whatever it was. But the transformation is what people are buying.

I need to get from unhappy to happy. How you get me there, I don’t care. If I can afford it and you can do it, and I want it. Is it hypnotherapy? Is it going to the why and lifting weights? Is it getting a runner’s high? Is it a happy hour with my friend? I don’t care which one it is. I just need to go from being unhappy and depressed to being unhappy. 

So if people, I think, if business people spent more time and nonprofits understanding what it is they’re selling, then they can sell to that transformation and that outcome instead of all the specifications of the mechanism that gets us there, which is boring. There’s no story and facts and data and how high, how wide, how fast, how tall. No one cares.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. It doesn’t lend itself to ingraining it in your memory until it’s very, very forgettable. Now I suspect one of the reasons that you’re so passionate with a deep understanding of story is you’ve been a professional playwright, director, and producer, for 10 years. We expect that this is not an experience many of our listeners have. The last time I experienced any kind of theater was in high school, and I sorely miss those days. Can you tell us what it’s like working in theater?

Peter Davis: Yes. I’ve been doing theater since 1976, off and on. And, artistically, as a theater person, it all starts with we choose a story worth telling Worth telling Shakespeare nailed it. Shakespeare will be a 1000 years from now, we’ll still be producing Shakespeare and talking about Shakespeare and deconstructing Shakespeare and all of that. 

We also choose problems worth solving. So I’m doing a junior high play and I need Timmy to be a 90-year-old man. That’s a problem, and that’s a problem we’re solving. We can use makeup, we can use lighting, and we can just use good old suspension of disbelief. If Timmy thinks he’s an old man and I’m in the audience, if Timmy believes it, I believe it.

So artistically, we choose a story, we’re telling and problems we’re solving. I need to do Shakespeare on a $500 budget outside. Well, that’s not impossible. It’s not ideal, but it can be done. So it’s part of that. That’s part of the attraction culturally, and this is in perfect alignment with artistically, culturally, we’re about shared purpose. We’re gonna put on a play in 6 weeks. We have and so it’s about shared purpose and cooperation. We’re each gonna accept a role in the delivery of this play, and we have a formal process that will get us there. So shared purpose is big. 

How much is shared purpose worth to a business that’s bottom line driven, that’s shortsighted in terms of metrics and, you know, next quarter’s earnings only and this and that. And you’re churning salespeople, you’re churning staff, but by God, you’re showing a profit and the shareholders are happy and there’s turmoil on the inside. We don’t do that in theater. We just don’t.

In rehearsal, we take risks. We lean hard into failure. It’s built into our process. So because we’re trying to find what works, what rings true, not just to ourselves delivering the line, but to the actors that we’re sharing the scene with, and then to the audience as well. So there are a lot of layers of understanding and connection that have to go on. As an actor, I have to be connected to the playwright’s words. I have to be connected to my ensemble. I have to be connected to my scene partners, and I, we all have to be connected to the audience. 

And so taking risks and looking for contrast and contradictions in rehearsal, building destruction into our own argument, and seeing what holds up is how we figure out what works. I don’t know that businesses is willing to devote the time and effort to build failure into their system.

Now there’s beta, this and that, and I get it. And those are great. But, just throwing a salesperson, giving them, you know, 10 days training and throwing him or her to the wolves and judging their performance based on that without 6 weeks of preparation and a guided process is that doesn’t seem even fair to me. And performance is where actors and theater people are most alive, whether you’re in the wings holding props for an actor, whether you’re on stage killing somebody, or making love to somebody, or arguing with somebody, you’re doing things that you would never ordinarily do as a civilian human being.

So to feel all of that, it may be rage or jealousy or whatever these big emotions are that make the story worth telling, that’s about as alive as you can get. And the active sense there is listening to your own body and in concert with your fellow scene partners on stage in a live situation, and then you get, you bring in the 3rd party, the audience, and you’re all delivering words and actions that were created by someone else, a playwright, is it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and, you know, I feel I’ve been around a long time.

And to end with the whole theater thing, our goal is unification with the audience, and that should be the same for business or nonprofits. You wanna unify with your audience, either in emotional at an emotional level, as well as a spiritual level, or in terms of whatever argument you’re trying to make, whatever point you’re trying to make.

Liam Dempsey: Peter, according to your website, your services for businesses and nonprofits are similar. You provide a 4 step process, discovery, organize the insights to findings, craft a story, and then build out the implementation of that story. Talk to us about how you arrived at that particular structure or that process. How does that work for your clients?

Peter Davis: It was intuitive, to be honest. I didn’t research anything. When I got my first gig doing this, it was quite accidental. I was trying to sell something else, and they said, we don’t need that. We’re having trouble with our story, and you talk about that a lot, can you help us with that? And I said yes. This is a $500,000,000 manufacturing company in Texas. I was living in Chicago at the time, and, I just intuitively came up with that process of investigation as if it was a, I was looking at a new script that had never been published or done before, and asking the right questions. Who’s the hero? What do they want? Why can’t they have it? Why should I care? What would it take for them to get what they want? Then what? And to what end? And then what happens? So you just probe. You’re just constantly probing. All it’s like a theater like I said, it’s a theater investigation of the story’s premise and the character’s motivations. And biz that’s where again, business is theater. You treat them the same, and it works. 

And so basically, I’m teaching organizations how to self-investigate. Because when I leave, they’ve got all the questions. They can ask themselves those questions every 6 months, every year, every board meeting, focus on 1 and see, are we still here in this spot where we were 6 months ago with theater, or have we evolved? Yeah. So it’s as long as it works, I’m gonna keep doing it. And whether I’m doing a 1 on 1 with somebody for 2 or 3, maybe 4 sessions, or whether I’m doing a 2-month engagement with a larger organization, I’m still doing variations of that progress of that process.

Joe Casabona: So, you mentioned that they’ll always have these questions after you leave. Right? Let’s look at the most common questions in stories. Right? Who, what, where, when, why, how. For you, why is the first question? The most fundamental question. Can you explain that?

Peter Davis: It is the biggest question. It’s the deepest question. It’s the loftiest question. Is why a concept, a cause, a feeling, an experience. Is the why universal in scope, or is it deeply personal? What truth does why share? What universal truth that we can all relate to that makes it authentic, and those kind of things. Why doesn’t rely on facts or specifications to be taken seriously or to be relevant. It relies on emotional connection, and that is where true power resides.

Liam Dempsey: There’s a lot to think about there. Thank you for that answer. 

You touched earlier about community and joining a chamber to be a part of a business community focused on giving back to their local area. With that kind of context, I wanna direct your attention to the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce, both Hero’s Quest Consulting and our own podcast are members. You’re also a member of the Oxford area Chamber of Commerce. And just a little aside for our listeners who missed the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce advert at the start of our show, we are partnered with the chamber. 

Peter, in a competitive business world, both for nonprofits and for companies, what benefit do you see in being a member of a chamberester of commerce? Let me put it in a selfish way if I can. What’s in it for you? Well, why’d you join?

Peter Davis: I joined because I wanted to meet motivated people. I was new to the area, and I thought, man, where are my peers? And there’s not a big art community here, a big music community here like there was in Baltimore or Chicago, but there’s a business community. So I joined the chamber at midnight one night, and the very next day went to a networking lunch at the Oxford Chamber and I liked it. And when the executive director got wind, Christine Grove, of what I did, she said, oh my God. I need you to sit with my nonprofits and see if you can help them. So I did over the summer, I did 6 pro bono workshops and got clients out of it. Like, oh my God. Jesus. We gotta meet. We have to have coffee. And so I hit the ground running. And, it’s been great. So selfishly, what’s in it for me? Business. I got a chance to give myself away and get something in return, and that’s a never-ending process. 

In addition to that, in small areas like this Southern Chester County, Oxford area, I mean, yes. I pay for a membership, but really it’s not just I’m not buying a membership. It is a portal. It is a gateway to fellowship with other human beings that I’m gonna see every day as neighbors and walking down the street, and we all have something in common, which is we’re just trying to be the rising tide that chamber all ships in Southern Chester County. I don’t get that in Chicago, and I don’t feel that in Baltimore. I feel it here for the first time in over 70 years.

Joe Casabona: Wow. That’s amazing. And so we’ll give you the opportunity to pay it forward, maybe give a little shout-out. What local business or nonprofit should more folks in Chester County know about?

Peter Davis: I think they know about them, but, LCH, the health care concern, was my first client, and they were awesome. And they didn’t need any branding help from me or branding strategy. They needed messaging for 4 distinct audiences for them. So that was a little bit different. I really enjoyed it. I learned a lot working with them. Ronan, their CEO, is a leader, and they are the future of health care. It’s a nonprofit healthcare delivery system, and they are the future of health care. They know it. They’re in demand in terms of their industry space. And locally, they do great work. 

I think, Silo and neighborhood services are social safety nets that do great work. And I’m gonna stick with Silo for a minute. There are a lot of safety nets in this area, and I’ve talked to all of them. And if I ask each one of them, what do you do? They give me a list. That’s basically a to do list of activities that represents their so called mission statement. And but when I asked Silo, what do you do? They said, whatever it takes, for as long as it takes to get our friends back on their feet with their dignity intact moving forward.

And I thought, man,  I can’t do any better than that for them. I’m so impressed with them. I followed them around like a little puppy, like, wow. I wanna hang out with you guys because they’re so cool. They’re so different. They’ve nailed different. And they’re so cool, that I just, I love their business model. Silos, Serving, Inspiring, and Loving Others, and they behave it, and they walk the walk every day.

Joe Casabona: That’s fantastic. Thanks for that. On the other side of the token as far as the community goes, are you hiring?

Peter Davis: I am not. I purposely keep myself as small as possible. It makes me affordable for, like, small tiny nonprofits. I’m not a good administrator, so asking me to do that, I’m an artist. I wanna do that. And, so no. But I would accept a sorcerer’s apprentice and teach this. A Shakespearean scholar or actor could nail this. There’s nothing like Shakespeare to understand the dynamics of power and the lessons of leadership. So if you know anybody out there looking for something interesting or different to do, send them my way.

Joe Casabona: That’s awesome.

Liam Dempsey: I might send you my resume after this conversation, Peter.,

Peter, I wanna take us back to September of last year when, sadly, there was a absolutely terrible devastating fire that consumed an entire block in your corner of the world down in Oxford. So many homes were destroyed, and about 90 people were displaced by that fire. Yet following the fire, many more than I can count, local residences, local businesses, local nonprofits, and even the local government really, really rallied around those families. Those people adversely affected by the fire, bringing shelter, food because those families lost everything. The fire was that fast, that hot, that it wasn’t grab your things and go. It was go, and everything was gone. That says a lot about Oxford as a commmunity. You’ve touched on it a little bit in this conversation, but I wonder if you could just walk us through what’s so special about Oxford.

Peter Davis: I moved here two and a half years ago, almost 3 years ago, to retire and be a hippie gardener, and I’m doing very well at that. Meanwhile, I’ve joined the chamber and engaged, reengaged myself in business. But so Oxford was attractive to me as a small town, a legitimate small town in a rural area, and it has a very nostalgic feel, and it’s all very sentimental, the whole small town thing and all that. But my God, once I got here and started meeting people, they’re not sentimental. They’re very forward-thinking, and they’re all very motivated to fulfill whatever they think their destinies are, and it’s quite positive. 

The aftermath of the fire was amazing to me because I got to see everyone in action. We can all talk about values and beliefs and all that, but until something happens and you’re under pressure, then you see what people are really about. 

And so let me go back to SILO and Neighborhood services center, the safety nets. They were right there within minutes, and they’re still working on behalf of these people to this day. So I’m one of those residents. And like you said, I can’t take anything with me. I find myself on the street in my pajamas with slippers. I have to be at work the next morning, or I lose my job. I don’t even have the keys to my car because they’re in the apartment, a melted key fob. I don’t have a laptop to send a message. I don’t have anything. So these social safety nets, they’re at Walmart in the middle of the night, and Walmart is, yeah. come on in. Take what you need. Grab a cart. Fill it up. You know? And they’re driving people to work at 4:30 in the morning with their new clothes, and taking them home, and buying groceries in the meantime, and getting their kids settled, and this is just, can you imagine how exhausted these people still are? It’s just incredible.

The Red Cross was like, I can’t believe this town. We’ve never seen anything quite like this response in all of our years and all of the disasters that we show up at. And there’s while you look at the disaster area that’s a massive rubble in the middle of Main Street, it’s now beginning as time goes by, and we see the community rallying, supporting each other. Now it’s not rubble. It’s a pallet, a clean slate to kinda reinvent a little bit of what being in Oxford and downtown really means.

And can we house a nonprofit within these new structures? Can we make a community gathering spot out of it, instead of just retail business and some apartments, some hidden apartments? So, the old, I rise in flame cried the phoenix. We’re gonna watch that happen incrementally every day now going forward. And at some point, it’s not depressing. It’s exciting. And we’re making that shift right now, and I can see it, and I can feel it, and I can hear it. And all of a sudden now, again, we’re not just rallying to the cause. It’s like, well, what else can we do together? What else could we do together if we want to bad enough? 

So I know I’m waiting for some leader or a little coop of leaders, a cabal of leaders from all the different organizations to get together and answer that question. What else can we do working in harmony together and understanding whose role is best suited for what quickly? That was key. Who can do what’s best? Do it quickly, and we’ll find our lane and our space. So hopefully, going forward, we’re not just revitalized, but we’ve evolved and, it brought a lot of people with us.

Liam Dempsey: What a beautiful answer, and I love the we did this great. Let’s do even more great. That’s such an important part of community and community growth and community flourishing and community sustainability is let’s go to the next level together with whoever leading is doing the best leadership.

And I wanna share one little story that I heard recently on the on the back of that fire about the community coming together is that because as you noted in your answer, Peter, phones, car keys, everything was gone. Somebody took it upon themselves, some organizations, some people were to figure out where all these displaced people worked and called around to their various places of employment because otherwise, you know, why aren’t they here at work? A lot of the folks who were displaced were blue collar workers, and they’re expected to be at the plant, at the farm, at the place of employment at 8 AM, 7 AM. And once those employers heard what was happening, you know, that was another rallying point. So thank you for sharing that. Thank you for wrapping it up with that.

Peter Davis: It was a pleasure.

Joe Casabona: Peter Davis, owner and brand story strategist with Hero’s Quest Consulting. We’re grateful for your time and the insight you shared with us today. Before you wrap up this conversation, before we wrap up this conversation, please tell us how folks can find you online and learn more about your business.

Peter Davis: [herosquestconsulting.com]. And if you’re local, or you can email me at [peter@herosquestconsulting.com]. Or even better, you can show up at one of the chamber networking events, and we’ll sit together and chat and get to know each other. And, if that leads to a coffee on me at a local coffee shop, then we’ll continue getting to know each other and figure out how we can help each other in business or as community people sharing the same desires.

Liam Dempsey: Peter, I very much look forward to this conversation. I thought I’d get a lot of it. I certainly have. Thank you so much for your time today.

Peter Davis: My pleasure to both of you. Thank you, Liam. Thank you, Joe.

Joe Casabona: Thank you, Peter. Thanks, Liam. Thanks to everybody listening. Thanks to the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce.

If you wanna learn more and check out all the show notes for this episode, you can head over to [startlocal.co]. But until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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