Tyler Gage: Fully Alive – Using the Lessons of the Amazon to Live Your Mission in Business and Life [Ep. 73]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.

Tyler Gage is an entrepreneur, author and speaker who uses wisdom from the Amazon and start­up success to bring innovation and inspiration to growing organizations.

Tyler has spent the last 12 years studying with indigenous elders in the Amazon rainforest, venturing far from his suburban roots at the age of 20. After graduating from Brown University, Tyler turned down a Fulbright grant to start RUNA, a social enterprise that makes energizing beverages with guayusa (pronounced gwhy-you-suh), a rare Amazonian leaf, and improves livelihoods for 3,000 indigenous farming families in Ecuador. With over 70 employees and 15,000 stores selling RUNA beverages in the US and Canada, RUNA has grown to be one of the 500 Fastest Growing Companies in the US according to Inc Magazine.

Tyler was named a Forbes “30 Under 30 Entrepreneur” and winner of both the Big Apple Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Specialty Food Association's Citizen Leader of the Year Award. ABC Nightline, National Geographic and Richard Branson's book Screw Business as Usual have all featured Tyler for his unique and powerful approach to building businesses and creating social good.

Tyler also serves on the Board of Directors of DavidsTea (NASDAQ: DTEA) and on the Advisory Council for Entrepreneurship at Brown University. In addition to advising and investing in other start­ups, Tyler is a co­founding partner and strategic advisor to NAKU, a pioneering indigenous healing center in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Tyler lives in Bellingham, Washington with his wife Michelle and enjoys boxing, yoga, riding his unicycle and studying ethnobotany.

Some highlights from Shawn’s interview with Tyler include:

  • Tyler’s liberal arts approach to business and use of the culture around guayusa to inform RUNA’s business model

  • The strategic reasons behind the tandem for-profit and nonprofit approach that enables RUNA to not perpetuate harmful dynamics of past business (ie: United Fruit Company)

  • Tyler discusses his new book – Fully Alive: Using the Lessons of the Amazon to Live Your Mission in Business and Life

  • The power and  importance of embedding the organization's beneficial impact in the structural DNA and core operations of the business rather than tacking programs onto the business

  • How inspired Tyler feels about organizations like Tanka Bar and Kara Solar (see Resources section below)





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Shawn Berry is a Partner at LIFT Economy, where he works as an organizational strategist inspired to harness the power of business to create resilient local economies as patterns to be documented, open sourced, scaled globally and adapted regionally.  LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life. You can follow Shawn on Twitter @sd_berry or email him shawn@lifteconomy.com.