Barry Nalebuff

Co-Founder and Chairman of Honest Tea, Expert on Using Game Theory to Improve Business Strategy
Barry Nalebuff
  • Co-founded and grew Honest Tea, a bottled organic tea business into a $100 million-dollar brand
  • Revolutionary in the game of business, he was the first person to introduce game theory into popular business literature with his now-classic book, Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life
  • Speaks about the challenges and hurdles of creating a successful business—and the importance of perseverance and creative problem-solving

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Barry Nalebuff is the co-founder and chairman of Honest Tea and an expert on using game theory to improve business strategy.

Honest Tea was one of Inc. magazine’s fastest growing companies and has grown (organically) from five thermoses to well over 100 million bottles a year. In 2011, Coca-Cola purchased the company.

Barry is also the Milton Steinbach professor at Yale School of Management where he teaches strategy, innovation, game theory, and negotiation. Unlike most professors, he practices what he preaches (and preaches what he practices). Audiences appreciate his myriad insights into how to use economic theory to create a new business mindset and run an organization more successfully. In fascinating presentations, Barry engages his audiences with his sharp wit and warm sense of humor as he changes the way they look at strategy and innovation.

Popular Author. Barry has written extensively on the application of game theory to business strategy. He is the co-author of six books. International best-seller, Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life was the first popular book on game theory. It was the Financial Times’ Top Ten “Book of the Year,” a Book-of-the-Month Club best-seller, and required reading at the best business schools. Fortune said “Nalebuff sets out sure-fire rules for thinking about strategy.” Thinking Strategically and The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life are two crossover books on game theory with more than 300,000 copies in print. Of The Art of Strategy, economist Steven Levitt said, “I am hard pressed to think of another book that can match the combination of practical insights and reading enjoyment,” and the Economist said, “Here is [a book] that is rigorous, fun, and extremely useful all at the same time.”

The New York Times and BusinessWeek best-seller, Co-opetition, revolutionized the game of business. It looks beyond zero-sum games to emphasize the potential for cooperating as well as competing, with an emphasis on creating and capturing value. Why Not?: How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big And Small offers a framework for problem solving and ingenuity. Lifecycle Investing provides a new strategy for retirement investing. He also writes a popular Forbes column.

His book, Mission in a Bottle, tells the story of how two outsiders to the beverage industry managed to overcome the odds. Told in comic book format, Barry and his Honest Tea co-founder Seth Goldman describe their missteps, near-death experiences, and occasional wins as they relied on passion and economic theory to build the business, raise capital, scramble for distribution, innovate products, labels, and packaging—all the while remaining true to their message and their mission and ultimately creating the world’s top-selling organic bottled tea. They offer a wealth of insights and advice to entrepreneurs about the challenges and hurdles of creating a successful business—and the importance of perseverance and creative problem-solving.

Extensive Expertise. Barry also has extensive experience consulting with multinational firms, from American Express, GE, and McKinsey to Google and Rio Tinto. He advised the NBA in their recent negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association. A graduate of MIT, a Rhodes scholar, and a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, he earned his doctorate at Oxford.

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Mission in a Bottle Featuring Barry Nalebuff of Honest Tea

Using Game Theory To Inform Business Strategy. Game theory means rigorous strategic thinking. It is the art of anticipating your opponent’s next moves, knowing full well that your rival is trying to do the same thing to you. Though parts of game theory involve simple common sense, much is counterintuitive, and it can only be mastered by developing a new way of seeing the world. In fascinating presentations, Barry Nalebuff engages his audience and walks them through the practical applications of game theory to everyday business practices in order to help them create new, effective strategies for their own organizations. Using a diverse array of rich case studies—from pop culture, TV, movies, sports, politics, and history—he shows how nearly every business and personal interaction has a game-theory component to it. Nalebuff then goes beyond the old rules of competition and cooperation to combine the advantages of both, leveraging an organization’s internal and external business relationships. With his sharp wit and warm sense of humor, he changes the way audiences look at strategy and innovation.

Why Not? The New Method For Innovation. Barry Nalebuff shares insights and techniques on how to take the things we see every day and think about them in a new way. He offers a primer for problem-solving with a purpose and bringing the world a few steps closer to the way it should be. Insisting that innovation is a skill that can be taught, Nalebuff distills it into a few rules of thumb, outlining four central idea-generating tools that are simple and fun. These techniques force audiences to think creatively and challenge conventional wisdom as they learn how to approach innovation in their own organizations.

Successful Negotiation. In the “world’s best talk on negotiation,” Barry Nalebuff approaches the art of negotiation from a new angle. When two parties are at odds over an issue, he believes the best way to approach the situation is to first ask, “What is the pie?” In other words, what are the participants negotiating over? What could they get separately versus what can they get together? How do you grow this “pie?” An expert negotiator who advised the NBA in their talks with the National Basketball Players Association, Nalebuff teaches audiences his framework for ensuring smooth and effective negotiations that benefit all parties involved.

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