Tyler Gage
Featured Keynote Programs

"Profit and Sustainability
Its all about People"

Having built an organization that sells products in thousands of stores across the country while employing over 70 people and supporting more than 3,000 indigenous families in Ecuador, Gage knows what it takes to balance doing good with doing well. As a college student studying indigenous cultures in the Amazon, Gage's appreciation for the vibrant communities thriving in the rainforest inspired him to build a company that is rooted in a strong community of people in and around the business. From building a stellar Board of Advisors to connecting intimately with consumers, Gage's focus on doing good for people has fueled Runa's growth in to a multimillion dollar business that is one of the fastest growing beverage companies in the country.

"The "RUNA' Story In All of Us"

Tyler is passionate about encouraging people to have adventures that can help change the world. His undergraduate research of indigenous Amazonian languages led him to want to start a company that could use business as a way to support these native families.

Fierce Collaboration
Lessons from the power of the Amazon

Immersing himself in the native cultures of the Amazon, Tyler grew from an introverted linguistics researcher to an award-winning CEO of one of the hottest beverage companies in the country. He recognized that a unique spirit of collaboration and exchange is central to what gives indigenous communities the ability to not only survive, but to thrive in one of the most lethal ecosystems in the world. Tyler applied these lessons to building his first company into a 70-person organization that supports over 3,000 farming families, and has continued to apply these same principles as an advisor to large multinational companies.

The combination of "fierce" and "collaboration” might seem like a total contradiction, and the very idea of collaboration can be at odds with the competitiveness that often seeps into growing organizations.

Tyler's definition of Fierce Collaboration is not some aggressive mandate to collaborate, but a willingness to bring deeper pieces of ourselves into our shared spaces and use a more diverse skill set to engage in constructive dialog.

Key lessons Tyler shares about next-generation collaboration:

• Deep Listening: Amazonian hunters can prowl through the rainforest together with incredible synchronicity. They actively cultivate an ability to listen to more than the obvious forms of communication. Great leaders do the same thing, and Tyler shows how to use a broader range of communication tools to access richer insights.

• Make it personal: We’re quickly leaving the age when expressions like “don’t take it personally,” rule the world. Tyler shows the enduring strength that comes from shared struggles and vulnerable communication within a team, and offers a range of tools, like asking low assumption questions, to guide leaders and managers in this direction.

"Creative Fundraising"

Tyler Gage has raised over $12m for Runa, a hybrid non-profit and for-profit organization that improves livelihoods for Amazonian farming families and sells beverage products in the US. From rallying a crew of major celebrity investors and high level beverage industry executives to convincing the Ecuadorian National Government to invest in his business, Gage has composed a diverse group of investors on the for profit side. On the non profit side, Gage has collected donations from a wide range of investors including the MacArthur Foundation, US Government, German Government, and wealthy family offices.

His passion for the work he does and gift for storytelling makes this Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur able to garner support for his high growth venture.

Innovation from the Amazon‎

Inspired by the ways that the indigenous Amazonian communities understand their environment and manage their tribes, Tyler decided to follow these millennia old principles to build what has now become a world renowned social enterprise, Runa.

Having researched the cognitive patterns, environmental principles, and hunting techniques of native Amazonians, Tyler has developed a model for innovation that taps in to the inherent power of an organization to unlock new potential, in the same way that he is discovering and sharing the secrets of the Amazon through Runa.

Key lessons Tyler shares about how he translated teachings from the Amazon to growing his business include:
Deep Listening: Amazonians have mastered the art of receptivity, and how to listen and learn from the environment around them with great precision. Learning to listen in new ways can rapidly speed up innovation processes when new layers of understanding are acheived
Animating the Inanimate: A sort of "gamification" of and with the natural world allows stories, ideas and visions to ricochet and expand in new directions. Creative brainstorming and rich ideation in this way is a great tool for discovering new potential.
Personal Reflection: Using self discovery and introspection as a way to digest and comprehend more of the challenges and opportunities in a situation has allowed Tyler to work through enormous challenges building a business in the heart of the jungle

Mission and Impact “From the Inside Out”

Tyler draws on his diverse experience working with start-ups and large multinationals to show how organizations can dig deeper into their history, culture and operations to unlock sources of purpose that can fuel growth, engagement, and profit.
Challenging the norms and expectations around traditional Corporate Social Responsibility, Tyler dispels misconceptions about how social responsibility "should be done” and offers an enlivening perspective about to build impact into the nuts and bolts of an organization. Translating lessons from working with both indigenous communities and large companies alike, Tyler shares practical tools to help leaders build impact and engagement into the "blood" of their organization (through incentive programs, meetings structures, hiring practices etc.) and also the "bones" of the organization (reporting structures, legal entities, equity structures, and investment models).

Navigating Chaos
Setting Strategy and Driving Profit through Uncertain Times

Growing an organization is like being thrust into the middle of the Amazon rainforest – living every day on the edge of your comfort zone, vulnerable to the unexpected challenges constantly being thrown your way. From founding and leading a start-up through acquisition to serving on the Board of Directors of a publicly traded company at age 31, Tyler’s path has required a unique craft to approach challenging environments at every turn.

This award-winning entrepreneur speaks with heart, cutting insight and unflinching determination about how to achieve and innovate when faced with a new challenge. Tyler shares potent insights and practical tools from his experience about how to thrive at the edge and get real, measurable results in unexpected, challenging environments.

Key lessons Tyler shares about creative problem solving:

• Calculus, Not Statistics: To think like an entrepreneur, you have to believe in calculus, not statistics. In other words, you must have complete conviction that there is an answer for everything, that you will find it, and that no matter what, things are going to work. Without that certitude, the challenges will be too big and you will just be overwhelmed.

• Embrace obstacles as teachers: Rather than seeing difficulties or impasses as "a problem," relating to them as sources of education is often the most important change in perspective that unlocks the solution needed.

• Value intuitive learning: Follow seemingly illogical curiosities and create unstructured space for the mind to make nonlinear connections.

How Plants Drive Culture

It's every day that we hear about a new superfood on the shelves of our local store, a miracle plant touted by Dr Oz, or some new crop that is saving (or destroying) communities on the other side of the world. Is this a new phenomenon? Is the coming and going of plant products a by-product of our recently globalized society, or a fundamental driver of the forces that have shaped human trade, culture, and even our biochemistry for millennia? Drawing on my diverse experience living in the Amazon, building supply chains for new ingredients, and designing food and beverage products for some of the largest CPG companies in the world, I elucidate common features of how plant products have shaped the human experience throughout the ages. I trace the history of 3 plants (coffee, coca and cotton) that have dramatically shaped wars, modern social structures and the rise of industrialism itself. I offer my 4 Keys that all successful new products must have to gain widespread cultural acceptance, using chia, kombucha and acai as clear modern examples of this framework I created:

Memorable Mythos (the legendary Mexican runners using chia, the ancient cave monks with their kombucha cultures, etc.)

On-Trend Functionality (caffeine in the industrial age, kombucha in the age of digestive ails, acai at the peak of antioxidant madness, quinoa during the rise of plant-based protein etc.)

Theatricality: could be color, texture, or taste but some element that distinctively captures the senses (the “alien brain” texture of chia, the brilliant purple of acai, the slime of kombucha)

Identity Icon: Products that become a symbol of a consumer’s values and cultural affiliation (kombucha for yogis, acai for surfers, chia for runners)

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Tyler Gage

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