Peter Murphy Lewis Of Strategic Pete On How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Imagine a local bookstore using data to understand each visitor’s reading habits, then suggesting books they’re likely to enjoy. We did something similar for an online retailer, tailoring the browsing experience for each user. Sales and customer satisfaction jumped because shoppers felt understood and valued.

Digital transformation has become a crucial component for businesses striving to stay competitive and relevant in today’s rapidly evolving landscape. As technology continues to shape industries and redefine business models, companies must adapt and leverage digital tools and strategies to unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation. In this interview series, we aim to explore various aspects of digital transformation, including best practices, challenges, success stories, and expert insights. We are talking to thought leaders, industry experts, entrepreneurs, technology innovators, and executives who have firsthand experience in driving digital transformation initiatives within their organizations. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Murphy Lewis.

Peter Murphy Lewis, a trailblazer in the marketing realm, is a CEO and founder of a fractional CMO company called Strategic Pete, where he masterminds innovative growth strategies for a diverse clientele, including zoos, banks, and SaaS platforms.

Recognized for his ability to identify market opportunities and convert marketing data into tangible revenue, Peter offers clear direction for CEOs overwhelmed by marketing data.

His journey from starting multiple travel brands in South America to becoming a fractional CMO has equipped him with a unique blend of creative and strategic prowess, making him the go-to expert for businesses aiming to scale new heights.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Absolutely, and thank you for having me — it’s a pleasure to be here. My journey into the world of marketing and business growth is one that’s been fueled by curiosity, a passion for innovation, and, frankly, a bit of serendipity. I didn’t start out with a grand plan to become a fractional CMO or to lead a company like Strategic Pete. My career began in the trenches of the creative industry, where I was deeply immersed in understanding how visual and strategic communication could influence behavior and drive engagement.

As I navigated through various roles, from creative projects to more strategic marketing initiatives, I realized there was a significant gap in how companies utilized their marketing data. Many were collecting vast amounts of information but lacked the strategic framework to turn that data into actionable insights and, ultimately, revenue. That’s where I saw an opportunity to make a real impact.

So, I took the leap and founded Strategic Pete, with the goal of helping businesses not just survive but thrive in the digital age. We focus on unlocking the potential within companies by refining their marketing strategies, enhancing their digital presence, and ensuring they can navigate the complexities of today’s digital landscape. It’s been an incredible journey, one that’s allowed me to work with a fascinating array of clients and constantly challenge myself to stay ahead in this ever-evolving field.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

One of the funniest mistakes I recall happened when we were just starting our travel company in South America. At the time, our team was small: myself, my business partner, possibly a secretary, an office manager, and two or three guides. We encountered issues with our office manager who was not responding to emails, answering calls, following SOPs, or being sufficiently courteous. So, I sent an email to my business partner stating that I would be in the office by 11 a.m. to discuss letting her go. I accidentally cc’d her on the email. When I arrived at the office, she confronted me, saying, “Peter, I received your email. I understand today’s my last day.” She ended the conversation kindly, expressing gratitude for the learning opportunities and the experience of working with a rapidly growing company. This incident taught me to double-check my CCs and BCCs meticulously.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

The first people who come to mind when I think about the support I’ve received on my journey are my grandfather, Ted, and my father, Gregg. They were exceptional small business owners, not just in how they managed their business but in the way they treated their employees and customers. They always ensured their product and service were top-notch, which taught me the importance of care and quality in business.

Another significant figure in my life is my friend, Joel Martinez. My relationship with Joel was both a close friendship and a valuable working partnership. From him, I learned a great deal about the business culture in Latin America. He taught me about growth hacking in the travel industry, which is known for its high barriers to entry, especially concerning commission models, relationships, and corporate incentives. Fortunately, Joel and I were able to navigate these challenges during a time when the internet was revolutionizing travel infrastructure, making it more accessible for small brands. We worked closely together from 2007 until recently when I sold him my share of the company.

I consider him not just a great friend but also a mentor from whom I’ve learned much about team culture. The foundation of my leadership style, especially in terms of creating a positive culture, can be traced back to what Joel and I learned together. I am incredibly grateful for the lessons we shared and the experiences we had together.

Another person that I admire and am grateful for is my ex-boss Jason Long. Jason is a dynamic entrepreneur. I’ve learned a lot from how he expertly fuses visionary thinking with precision, consistently inspiring his team with innovative, executable strategies. I do not say this lightly. Jason makes my short list of favorite people to work with, work for, ideate with, and report to. I have learned more about business from Jason than I have any other mentor in my life. You can check him out on Jhmedia

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The book that has had the most significant impact on me, and the one I’ve often discussed in public speaking engagements, is “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. This idea resonated with me deeply because I believe understanding how someone prefers to be appreciated — whether through words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, or spending quality time together — can profoundly enhance how we motivate and appreciate them.

Incorporating this understanding into my professional life, I’ve established a system as part of my onboarding process to identify each team member’s preferred love language. This approach helps me become a more effective motivator and teacher by tailoring my appreciation and encouragement to match their individual needs.

On a personal level, this insight has been transformative for my marriage. Recognizing that my wife’s love language is acts of service, while mine is words of affirmation, has improved our communication and mutual understanding significantly. It has enabled me to express my needs and appreciate her in ways that resonate more deeply with us both.

This concept has not only enhanced my professional relationships but has also been pivotal in strengthening my personal ones, demonstrating the power of understanding and catering to individual emotional needs.

Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

This year, I’m working on numerous projects that I believe will have a meaningful impact on an array of people and industries.

Project One: I’m producing a documentary focused on the healthcare sector, specifically highlighting the dedication of healthcare workers in Nebraska’s nursing homes. The documentary aims to showcase the hard work and beautiful contributions these workers make daily, becoming an integral part of the lives of America’s seniors. By driving around Nebraska and engaging with these healthcare professionals, I hope to bring to light their stories and the vital role they play as extended family members to those in nursing homes.

Project Two: My second venture is a new TV show titled “Sueño Americano.” In this series, I’ll be traveling across the United States to interview 40 Latin Americans who have made the US their home. The show will delve into their lives, covering their jobs, homes, and families, and discussing what they admire about US culture and the unique aspects of their heritage they’ve brought with them. Having previously produced TV shows in Latin America, fallen in love with Latin American culture, and started a family there, this project is particularly close to my heart. I’m excited to work again with the same South American TV crew with whom I’ve previously filmed three seasons of a different show.

Project Three: On a different note, I’m collaborating with an innovative alternative investment platform called WebStreet, where I’m leading growth efforts. From an investor’s perspective (rather than an employee’s), I find Web Street to be an amazing platform. Growing up in the digital era and having built digital-first companies, the opportunity to invest in online assets without the need to manage them directly is just incredible. This project excites me the most because it offers cash-on-cash, passive income. We’re also planning to expand our reach by launching a significant YouTube channel and podcast, alongside participating in various conventions. Right now, I am doing this interview while in Vietnam for one such convention on SEO by Mads Singer called SEO Mastery Summit.

Project Four: Additionally, I am working on a new project called Preguntas de Peter. It’s a captivating endeavor dedicated to in-depth discussions on politics, culture, and sociology that will take place every week on my YouTube channel. The goal is to engage in profound heart-to-heart dialogues with seasoned experts and create impactful content for the Latin American audience, offering a departure from conventional entertainment. I’m genuinely enthusiastic about this project, and I believe it resonates with individuals seeking intellectual stimulation and substantial discourse.

Project Five: Book / Mastering Internships: A Financial ROI and Human ROI

Finally, I’m also working on my first book, sharing my experience in team-building, talent identification, and fostering growth in younger generations. As a former university professor, I’m passionate about teaching, creating positive learning environments, and encouraging critical thinking. This experience sharpens my talent identification abilities. A key aspect of my business success is a strong internship program that allows eager learners to take on responsibilities under my guidance and that of my supervisors. The book aims to share a win-win methodology for growing your business through mutually beneficial partnerships that drive financial success and personal development. I will open my treasure chest and share with the readers the process that I have developed, including exercises, checklists, questionnaires, and the overall strategy behind this methodology.

But at Strategic Pete, it really is our execution game that sets us apart from the crowd. We don’t just talk the talk; we walk the walk, sprint the sprint, and sometimes, we even moonwalk the moonwalk. We help brands in the realm of thought leadership but we’re also out here, rolling up our sleeves, diving headfirst into projects that make waves. We’re not just planning your next big move; we’re right there with you, making it happen.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. Digital transformation can mean many things to many people, from your perspective, how do you define digital transformation in your industry?

“Digital transformation” gets tossed into conversations every time you tweak a button someone clicks or a screen someone swipes — but those are trivialities. But what’s it really about? It’s about staying in tune with the latest tech trends and figuring out how we can use them to make our customers’ lives better — giving them what they want, or even better, what they didn’t know they needed until we introduced them to it. Once they experience these new conveniences, they wonder how they ever lived without them.

Take the banking world, for instance. Gone are the days when a friendly smile from a teller was enough. Now, customers need instant online banking, advice that pops up just when they need it, and transactions that are as secure as a vault but as fast as a tweet. And for zoos? Imagine turning a stroll around the enclosures into a global safari adventure right from your living room. That’s digital magic — turning screens into windows to the wild, making every click a journey.

Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?

Who’s ready to ride the digital wave? Well, pretty much every business out there. But let me tell you, some are about to surf it like pros. Think small and mid-sized businesses for starters. These nimble players are ditching the old-school swim trunks for digital jetpacks, zooming past the big sharks in the ocean. They’ve got the hunger to innovate, making them the perfect candidates.

Then there’s the front-row crew — retail, healthcare, financial services — basically, anyone who talks day in and day out with you and me. They’re turning every chat, click, and call into a smooth digital handshake. Picture your local shop turning into a global marketplace, your doctor’s office fitting in your pocket, and your bank whispering financial sweet nothings into your ear, all through the magic of tech.

And let’s not forget about the industries still partying like it’s 1999, clinging to their fax machines and paper trails. Manufacturing and logistics, I’m looking at you. It’s time to swap the old ways for digital — AI, IoT, and machine learning. Imagine machines handling your maintenance and inventory moving around with a mind of its own. That’s not just efficiency; that’s a productivity party waiting to happen.

In the end, digital transformation isn’t about what field you’re playing on; it’s about how you choose to play the game. It’s for those ready to embrace change, gear up with the latest tech, and sprint towards a future where digital is not just part of the strategy but the heart of it.

Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?

Digital transformation can be tough for companies, especially those used to doing things the old way. The main challenges are getting people to embrace new digital tools, making sense of all the data they have, and keeping everything secure online.

To help, I focus on teaching teams about digital tools and making it part of their daily work. We start small with easy projects that show quick results. This builds confidence and shows that digital can really help. Plus, I help companies plan their digital moves so they fit with what they want to achieve, making sure we can change plans as new tech comes along. By taking it step by step, I help companies use digital to grow and get better.

The main fear of the authorities and their teams is losing control, their roles changing, or even losing their jobs. But adopting “digital” becomes a breeze once I address the human side of this shift by talking to everyone who’s going to be affected. After all, every transition, though daunting at first, inevitably leads to a smoother ride down the road.

Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”?

1 . Personalizing Customer Interactions:

Imagine a local bookstore using data to understand each visitor’s reading habits, then suggesting books they’re likely to enjoy. We did something similar for an online retailer, tailoring the browsing experience for each user. Sales and customer satisfaction jumped because shoppers felt understood and valued.

2 . Automating for Efficiency:

A client’s warehouse was a bottleneck, slowing down shipments. By introducing simple automation tools for sorting and tracking inventory, we cut down processing time by half. Employees moved from repetitive tasks to more engaging work, boosting morale and efficiency.

3. Using Social Media for Growth:

A small artisan coffee shop wanted to reach more customers. By sharing their story and engaging with coffee lovers on social media, they not only increased their local following but also started shipping their beans nationwide. Digital tools turned their local charm into a broader appeal.

4. Creating Digital Offerings:

A traditional tutoring company was limited by geography until they offered online sessions. Suddenly, they could reach students everywhere. This not only diversified their revenue but also helped more students achieve their academic goals.

5. Building a Learning Culture:

A tech firm was falling behind because they weren’t keeping up with new developments. We introduced a weekly “tech talk” where team members could share something new they’d learned. This sparked a culture of curiosity and innovation, leading to the development of a groundbreaking new app.

In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?

Creating a “culture of innovation” is akin to planting a garden. It’s not enough to just sow the seeds; you need to nurture them, provide the right environment for growth, and be patient. Here are the strategies I’ve seen work wonders in cultivating such a culture:

1. Empowerment and Trust:

Empower your team by trusting them with autonomy. One of my clients, a burgeoning SaaS company, implemented a policy where employees could spend 10% of their time on projects outside their regular responsibilities. This not only led to the development of new product features but also significantly boosted employee engagement and loyalty. Trusting your team to explore and experiment is the cornerstone of innovation.

2. Diverse Teams:

Diversity breeds innovation. Another client, a fintech startup, made it a point to assemble teams from varied backgrounds, expertise, and perspectives. The result was a groundbreaking financial product that addressed the needs of a market segment previously overlooked. Diversity in thought and experience brings about solutions that are creative, inclusive, and often disruptive.

3. Fail Fast, Learn Faster:

Embrace failure as a stepping stone to success. I advise companies to celebrate the lessons learned from failures, not just the successes. A tech company I worked with holds quarterly “failure forums” where teams share what didn’t work and why. This open dialogue removes the stigma around failure, encouraging more risk-taking and, subsequently, more innovation.

4. Continuous Learning:

Innovation stagnates without continuous learning. Offering opportunities for professional development, whether through workshops, courses, or conferences, keeps the team’s skills sharp and ideas fresh. A client in the healthcare sector launched an internal “innovation lab” where employees could access the latest research, tools, and mentorship to bring their ideas to life. This not only kept them at the cutting edge of healthcare technology but also fostered a strong sense of purpose and collaboration.

5. Leadership by Example:

Finally, leadership must embody the innovative spirit. Leaders should be visible champions of change, always questioning the status quo and encouraging others to do the same. By leading by example, they set the tone for the entire organization. In my own company, I make it a point to share my experiments (both successes and failures) with my team, encouraging an open exchange of ideas.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote, which I’ve even tattooed on my left forearm, was imparted to me by my mother. She always said, “The only thing in life you can control is your attitude.” While I’m not entirely sure how she applies this wisdom in every aspect of her life, its meaning to me is profound, shaped by what she taught me: In this life, we don’t get to take anything with us beyond our experiences and memories. I can’t control whether my brother will live for another 30 years, whether my wife will be with me tomorrow, or if I’ll still have my job or clients. There are countless external variables beyond my control. What I’ve learned from this is the importance of being content with what I have.

The tattoo on my forearm is inspired by a concept from the book “Emotional Equations” by Chip Conley, which posits that happiness equals reality divided by expectations. This idea serves as an extension of my mom’s quote for me. It underscores that the only aspect of life I can control is my attitude — in essence, my expectations. While I may not have control over every reality, managing my expectations allows me to influence my contentment and happiness in life.

How can our readers further follow your work?

For those interested in keeping up with my journey and the latest in digital transformation and marketing strategies, there are several ways to stay connected. First, I invite you to visit my website,, where I regularly share articles, case studies, and updates on my projects. It’s a hub for my thoughts on how businesses can navigate the digital landscape and leverage it for growth.

Additionally, I’m active on LinkedIn, where I not only post about my work but also engage in discussions about the latest trends in marketing and digital innovation. Following me there is a great way to join the conversation and share your own insights and questions.

Lastly, I occasionally contribute to industry podcasts and webinars, sharing my experiences and learning from others in the field. Keep an eye on my website and LinkedIn for announcements about these events.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.