The River Guides


A guide knows the river and knows where the fish are. A guide serves the client. Our mission is to give our clients the best, more realistic shot at success. We address the two most vexing questions: “What’s next?” and "How do we get there?" We tell the truth, collaborate, and execute. We make sense of all the possible marketing activities (social, automation, mobile, content, etc.) and support our clients with the hard work of landing new business.
The River Guides
Our Team

Dave Goetz | CEO and Founder


Dave Goetz grew up in the Dakotas, where, as the old saying goes, even the jackrabbits carry lunch buckets. Ergo, there’s not much to see or even places to visit in the windswept desolation. He later moved to Montana and Colorado, and then, in the 1990s, to the Chicago area, where he resides with his family. He started CZ in 2000, after his company sent him to the Stanford Publishing Course at Stanford University in 1999. He realized, “Hey, I can do this,” and the entrepreneurial journey began.

Dave is also known for his book Death by Suburb (HarperOne), which took a big swipe at suburban culture. He says, “We even lost a few friends after the book came out.” The book argues that the suburbs are toxic to spirituality and that to stay and thrive in the ‘burbs requires intentional living. Dave is also the author of Native Tongue: Translating Your Message into the Language of Prospects, which helps Clients with the hard work of messaging strategy and landing new business.

Dave’s passion is reflected in our tagline - clarity for what’s next. He has given his life to helping our clients “think like a prospect.”

Dave Goetz | CEO and Founder
Our Team

Laina Stilwell | Account Executive


We joke that Laina is the Queen of Wheaton, the city where she lives. She’s less than a half a degree of separation from every person in the city, it seems, and the truth is that she could lead a Fortune 500 corporation. Before joining CZ, Laina had a successful career at GE and Ask Computer. She is a strategist who delights in the details and helping Clients achieve their goals. Laina oversees some of CZ’s longest running clients.
Laina Stilwell | Account Executive
Our Team

Melissa Parks | Creative Director


If you’re in the room with Melissa, be careful; you might unknowingly share sacred information. That’s because she’s always digging with questions. Her boss says she’s a journalist at her core, a skill she’s developed as she has managed the editorial of CZ’s projects. Melissa oversees all of CZ’s editorial projects as well as copywriting and anything else having to do with words.
Melissa Parks | Creative Director
Our Team

Kirsten Tangeros | Project Manager


She is the bird dog of CZ, pursuing every project with dogged determination. Kirsten admittedly doesn’t rest until every detail has been hunted down. During her decade of work in marketing and sales at SAS North America, Kirsten ensured that communications campaigns and projects were pushed forward to completion. At CZ, her efforts are similarly focused. She checks and double-checks every detail, no matter how big or small, so our clients meet their goals.
Kirsten Tangeros | Project Manager
Our Team

Rob Lewis | Writer


Imagine this: one of CZ’s wordsmiths actually learned English as his second language. Born and raised in Indonesia, Rob’s first language was Indonesian. Straddling two cultures—American and Indonesian—Rob’s natural instinct is to listen to people to better understand them. His writing is an extension of this. He writes to bring clarity to ideas, a skill set he applies to all of his projects at CZ.
Rob Lewis | Writer
Our Team

Linda Bretz | Operations Manager


What is a seemingly impersonal job—managing the books—Linda makes personal. Questions about invoices, payments, and accounts, Linda handles with warmth. Though she manages the backend of CZ, she is every bit as important as the more up-front team members. In fact, we think she should receive standing Os for her dependability and diligence, which keeps CZ Strategy up and running without a hitch.
Linda Bretz | Operations Manager
Our Team