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The Inventivity Pod
Growing Up With Gatorade

What is it like to grow up with an inventor as a dad? Phoebe Cade Miles, co-founder of the Cade Museum and daughter of Gatorade lead inventor Robert Cade, talks with James Di Virgilio about her father, his creative spirit, and what his creative legacy has inspired. Phoebe also explains the neuroscience of creativity, and how everyone – but especially kids – can wire their brains to be more inventive in life. 




Intro:   0:01
Inventors and their inventions. Welcome to Radio Cade the podcast from the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention in Gainesville Florida. The museum is named after James Robert Cade, who invented Gatorade in 1965. My name is Richard Miles. We’ll introduce you to inventors and the things that motivate them. We’ll learn about their personal stories, how their inventions work and how their ideas get from the laboratory to the marketplace.

James Di Virgilio:
For Radio Cade, I’m James Di Virgilio, and today we have a very special guest. Joining us in studio is Phoebe Miles, the co-founder and board president of the Cade Museum. Phoebe, welcome to your own podcast.

Phoebe Miles:   0:50
Thank you, James. It’s a pleasure to be here.

James Di Virgilio:   0:52
 And it’s gonna be great. We have so many interesting to talk about. Let’s start with the beginning for you because this really shapes your story. You grew up obviously with what became a very famous father, but I want to hear what it was like to grow up during what a lot of was a struggle with his innovation story. It was not a rosy success story. What’s it like to grow up with an inventor as a father? especially one that was so influential.

Phoebe Miles:   1:17
Growing up with an inventor of as a father for me was an incredible experience, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I just always grew up, and my father had invented Gatorade at the University of Florida, or he led the team that invented a Gatorade at the University of Florida. I grew up thinking everybody had access to this creativity and this energy, and this excitement about problem-solving in my childhood memory was as if every day my dad came home and there was something exciting that happened. I’m sure it wasn’t like that in reality, but he would come home excited and motivated by problems and his ideas of how he is going to solve them. And by the time I came along, I’m the youngest of six children and a large family he had already investigated, and he had established his reputation of the University of Florida, and he had more flexibility, I think, with his time. And at that point my mom was very happy if I went with my dad to the lab or to research he was conducting at the University of Florida, track field So I was constantly surrounded by ideas and Just an excitement in a passion for science, for history, for creativity. My dad was the most creative person I’ve ever met.

James Di Virgilio:    2:21
Now, at this time in your life as a child, was your dad a celebrity? Were you sort of known in places you wonder? Or did you have a little anonymity?

Phoebe Miles:   2:29
I can’t really answer that question because I was three years old when my father invented Gatorade, and I don’t really ever remember a life when he hadn’t done that. So certainly at that point it was already a known quantity here in Gainesville. But it was many years before became a national product and then an international product that it is today.

James Di Virgilio:  2:48
So at that point in time, you’re just growing up like any other child with a father who does something.

Phoebe Miles: 2:52

James Di Virgilio: 2:53
And what you see is what they do and you’re not a

Phoebe Miles: 2:54
My father invented things.

James Di Virgilio: 2:56

Phoebe Miles: 2:57
And I thought everybody had a father that was like that. I found out much later that his mindset, his approach to life was actually indeed very different than what you would expect.

James Di Virgilio: 3:06
Yeah, that’s really hard, that you just grew up with your parents. That’s your normal. You don’t really know what it looks like. When was it that you began to realize? So my dad was a really unique thinker or problem solver or person? When did that really dawn on you?

Phoebe Miles: 3:19
I don’t think I actually understood the implications of how he was as a person until I was much older and raising my own children, and we were living overseas for many years. My husband is a retired foreign service officer, so we were stationed overseas. And every time I came back to the United States, two things happened. I thought the United States is an innovative country full of entrepreneurs. This innovative entrepreneurial spirit is indeed what I think is the American culture, which did not exist in many of the countries we lived. I love the countries we lived in, but they didn’t have that spirit. And then I would come to my home and realized this kind of thinking is at the epicenter of the American experience. This idea that I can create, I can invent, I can solve problems and I can take it to market. It’s this whole ecosystem of innovation that exists here in America that doesn’t exist in other places. And it circles around people like my father that are innovative thinkers

James Di Virgilio:  4:17
Let’s talk about your father for a second. What was his background growing up? How did he get this creative mindset that he had to solve these problems?

Phoebe Miles:  4:24
Okay, so my father grew up in San Antonio, Texas, to a German family. He was actually a horrible student. Like many inventors entrepreneurs I encounter, they’re not necessarily traditional learners. He was constantly getting in trouble, constantly skipping school, going fishing in the San Antonio creek. One of our cherished possessions at the Cade Museum is a letter written by one of his high school teachers saying that she could not teach class with Bobby and it anymore. If you would just pay attention, maybe he might make something of his life. My father didn’t even actually graduate from high school. He enlisted in the Navy at the tail end of World War Two on a Navy ship. He was a pharmacist, mate. He began memorizing poetry. He loved to travel, he was a musician as well. I mean, he has a child, had started musical instrument violin practice, and he became an accomplished musician. So all of those things kind of came together and when his finally came online, his mind finally came online and he on the G.I. Bill, got into college, still without a high school degree, went to the University of Texas on a dare went to medical school. Somebody said you’ll never be able to go to medical school. He goes, Oh, yeah, watch me. So he got into medical school, went to medical school and the rest is history. He was recruited to the University of Florida to develop the division of renal medicine at the brand new medical school. Back in 1960 it was a brand new Medical School. He came in to take on the graduating class of medical students who wanted to become kidney doctors. And that’s the origins of the Gatorade story. The kidney regulates sodium and water in the body. When people sweat, they lose sodium and water. There’s a connection there between the kidney and sports. So when my dad made friends with the coach and the coach asked why are my football player is going into the infirmary after practice, my dad, after just a short conversation, realized well because they’re extremely dehydrated. They’ve lost all of their sodium and they’re in beginning stages, a kidney failure. And he said it more than that. I think I know what to do to solve that problem

James Di Virgilio: 6:15
And quite the problem he solved. At that point in time, a lot of football players were taught not even to drink water as a baseline, right? So there was this massive problem to solve of hydration, and he went like 500 steps further, right, so ahead of the game to say, well, there’s a basic hydration problem, but there’s also an actual depletion going on here beyond just water.

Phoebe Miles: 6:34
 Right. Water deprivation was actually the preferred method back in the sixties, which is just crazy to think of. So coaches withheld water because they thought that that would cause cramping. They also thought it was a sign that you were a sissy and that if you’re really tough, you would just tough it out. And the tougher you were, the meaner you were in the meaner you where the better you were. So my father put an end to that. He was like, This is really dangerous. You need to replace the fluids, but you can’t replace the fluids unless you replace the sodium. And how do you do that? You have to pair it with glucose. And then through this whole complicated intestinal cellular level, the sodium is transported into the body and ushers in 300 water molecules at the same time. So he knew that from his basic research and created the first sports beverage in the nation

James Di Virgilio: 7:16
Which has changed sports forever.

Phoebe Miles: 7:18
It changed the rules of sports. What was really interesting to me, growing up, Asai came into conversations with my father. He was much prouder of the fact that he had solved the problem of dehydration worldwide, especially infant dehydration, cause that used to be the leading cause of death worldwide. And unless you had access to a hospital where you could get IV’s, it was deadly. Gatorade changed that overnight. It was an oral rehydration beverage that could quickly rehydrate a sick infant or adult. And that, in fact, is the treatment now is Pedialyte or other types of electrolyte replacement beverages. But they are, in fact, copies of Gatorade or very similar. They use the same scientific concept, but his was the first,

James Di Virgilio: 7:57
Which is amazing. So Now you’re in college. You’re going to study. You’ve grown up with this Father has invented this momentous world-changing thing. What are you studying? What are you thinking about? What you want to do? What were your dreams at that point?

Phoebe Miles: 8:09
Okay, so I went to college at the University of Washington in Seattle, and my original intention was to study medicine. I still love medicine. I adore science. I’m a science nerd. Although I did not finish my degree in chemistry, I ended up getting a double degree, one in German language and literature and one in European history. I got married in college to my high school sweetheart, Richard, who’s the co-founder of the museum. We open the museum together, and he at that point was joining the military. We lived in Germany first, and then he joined the Foreign Service. So we spent many of our adult years living overseas in different world capitals. So I was unable to finish the medical degree. That was not possible. But I did a lot of teaching. We raised three kids overseas. They went to, I think five different school systems, three different kids, and five different school systems, and I was just astonished at how different the school systems were. But more importantly how differently my Children responded to the school systems. Our son, the oldest one, he was much like my father, a very poor student. Always getting in trouble hated school, especially the British school system. My daughter loved it. Then our third was different again. It’s why it became fascinated by why they learned so differently. And I started reading a lot about neuroscience, of learning and creativity. And I quickly ascertained that my Children learn differently because they were wired differently. So that led to this interest in creativity and education.

James Di Virgilio:   9:31
And this would lead to where we really are today. How did the idea for the Cade Museum come about?

Phoebe Miles: 9:38
So my father was again very creative, had many hobbies. He was the violinist, the poet. He grew roses, but he also restored Studebaker’s, loves Studebakers. When I look back in the past, I think he loved violins and Studebakers because they are a perfect blend of art and science. Art you can drive, aren’t you can play, but with the science behind it as well. So he had originally wanted to do a museum about innovation, American innovation through the eyes of Studebakers. So was always going to be centered on this creativity, the creativity, and entrepreneurship behind Studebakers and the whole American century from 1860 to 1960. Studebaker started with the Gold Rush. They made wheelbarrows. They transitioned into horse strong wagons. They’re the only wagon company that transitioned into automobiles. And he wanted to tell that whole story. But tie it to patents during that time, who the famous inventors were, how Studebaker fit into this innovation story of America. So that was the original concept. We quickly ascertained, like mini entrepreneurial startups, that we couldn’t support that story in this market and that the true story was actually about innovation. What’s behind Violins, Studebakers and Gatorade is actually creativity. All of them are expressions of human creativity, and we realized over time that that was the true game-changer in this community to tell that story of innovation. But not just a story. Connect people to that story of innovation. Not just other people are creative, but you have the ability to be creative and how best to step into that creativity is to have practice at it meet people that are creative. Work with them, be inspired by them. Much like I was a child. I had a seat at the table of an inventor as a father, incredibly creative, stimulating conversations. How do we create an institution that does that? For every visitor that comes in? That was the challenge. That’s where we have ended up the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, giving everybody a seat at the table of invention.

James Di Virgilio:   11:36
Now, to your knowledge, when you embark on this journey, was there anyone else doing this? Is there another museum or place in the entire world that does something similar?

Phoebe Miles:   11:45
There are museums that do similar things, Technology Museums, of San Jose Technology Museum, a patent museum that talks about inventors. We differ in that at the center of our museum, is humanity, humans intersecting with science and problems create inventions. So we’re more inventor centered than technology-centered. Yes, we teach the technology in the science, but it’s always through the lens of a problem that a person, a real person, came and solved for the benefit of humanity. And we’re very much also talking about the entrepreneurial after story. You could have an invention, but without the entrepreneur, it stays an invention on a shelf. To get it out into the market, you have to have that entrepreneurial team. It’s part of the story. So, to my knowledge, were the only invention that has the whole arc, from creative idea to product to the market, in telling that with humanity at the center,

James Di Virgilio:   12:42
it’s interesting as you’re telling me that story. What I can’t help but think about is art. When you look at art, I was in Milan this past summer, and I got to see the Last Supper, which is painted on the wall of her church. It’s amazing it’s Divinci, but you don’t just look at the art on the wall and not know who did it. The person who did it is such a significant impact and art and any art museum you go, too. It’s the same thing. It’s the art and who did it when they did it? Why they did it. And what you’re saying is interesting, because I think a lot of the technology achievements are disassociated from who did it, why they did it, how it happened right, and the Cade under your vision is to connect all those things. Look, here’s how it happened. Here’s why they did it. And that, in a way should encourage others to say if they did that and they solved that problem what are some of the things I may be able to solve because these they’re just people solving problems is that part of the desire and motivation is to get people to think creatively. People that may not think their creative?

Phoebe Miles:   13:35
Absolutely. Because I believe that every person has that ability to be creative or to adopt an inventive mindset. And then what do I mean by an inventive mindset? It’s what you just explained, an inventive mindset to somebody who is not overwhelmed by problems but inspired by a challenge and to approach it in a creative manner and not to think in a zero-sum mentality or that every setback is catastrophic. That’s not the case. If you have an inventive mindset, failure is not only an option, it is the way failure is a step in the right direction because you learn from it, what not to do, and it’s a very different mindset. It’s very optimistic, not pessimistic. that’s very proactive, not reactive. It’s very community-minded because an inventor is always service-minded in creating a product that people need or want or that brings a better quality of life. So it is very other people-centered. Where is a pessimistic mindset is usually self-centered. So I think that whole mindset, it’s at the pinnacle of what it means to be human and inventive mindset. And you can have it. Whether you’re a scientist, an artist, a child, a grandparent, it really is what makes us thrive as a species humankind.

James Di Virgilio:  14:44
Now architecture drives a lot of inspiration. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my travels, architecture makes a huge difference in how we feel and interact with the world. The Cade Museum, perhaps his best known right now in the city of Gainesville for its stunning and very unique architecture, what was the drive behind that? Is there a deeper meaning, or was it just a cool looking building?

Phoebe Miles:   15:04
Well, first of all, this is the third iteration of a building so back to the point of learning through mistakes. Not that the first two were mistakes. They had their characters but they weren’t perfect. They were either overdesigned into expensive or didn’t fit into the space. So this was our third attempt. But it was perfect. It has a special meaning in the meaning is a perfect blend of art and science, which to me I often tell people the difference between a scientist and an inventor is training in the arts. If you have adopted this inventive mindset, you think like an artist, and artists develops things over time. They see hidden connections. They see patterns that other people don’t see, so inventors think much in the same way they see patterns and science that no one else has ever seen. And voila, a new invention pops out. So the architecture is based on what’s called the Fibonacci sequence, and the Fibonacci sequence is seen throughout nature, art, and also famous architecture. It’s a sequence for you add each number to the one before, 1 + 1 is 2, 2 + 1 is 3, 3 + 2 is 5 + 3 is 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, into infinity, and you see it all throughout nature, so pine cones have 8 spirals one way, 13 another, sunflowers have 21 and 34 spirals that are interlocking. DNA is a spiral that has 8×21 angstroms, it’s er 13×21. You see it in nature, these Fibonacci numbers. What’s astonishing is when you divide Fibonacci numbers, you get 1.618 which is called the golden mean or the divine proportion, and it’s a perfect proportion of beauty. Everybody knows pi. Pi is a irrational number, but it’s mostly associated with measurements and efficiency and mathematics. Fi is 1.618 that’s been associated with beauty since ancient times, So it was just us important in ancient times as pie. But this was fi. Scientists have proven, if anybody looks at something of the golden proportion, they can. A media identify that has pleasing proportions, it’s more beautiful than something that doesn’t have that proportion. So what’s more beautiful than nature? You divide Fibonacci numbers, you get 1.618 The human face has over 21 divine proportions of that proportion that we perceive this being beautiful. So the architecture we chose, we thought, were a museum for the future, not one of the past, but were built on the past. Every success of modern-day life is built on the shoulders of giants that came before us. We build on what came before, and hopefully, we make it better. So we wanted something that honored the past but looked forward, so we based it on the golden proportion of ancient architecture. But rather than a temple that square with the golden architect, we based it on a Fibonacci spiral, a nautilus shell grows on a Fibonacci spiral. So it has the same divine proportion, but with the movement of a spiral. So that’s the architecture that we have. And it has, Ah, Oculus in the very center that replicates the eye because we are a part of everything we’ve met and seen in what you take in through your experiences shapes who you will become. So that’s also part of the story. I am apart of all that I have met and that shapes who you become, so we want to be a part of this community and be a part of what shapes people to become, what they want to become, what they need to become, what they will become.

James Di Virgilio:   18:19
And that’s really a beautifully summed up by you there, right, starting with some architecture, moving all the way through the meaning to the end goal. When someone walks through the doors of the Cade or they encounter a program that Cade offers, that is the goal to stir up within them this desire to be creative and innovative and overcome challenges and defeat problems. And instead of looking at a setback, say, If that didn’t work, that’s just one step closer to something that will work. How will the Cade succeed in doing this? If there’s no other museum that does this, you’re truly pioneering this. How does the Cade make this happen?

Phoebe Miles:   18:52
Well, we have developed a proprietary curriculum that’s under development now called the Building Blocks of Invention, and the basic concept was that similar to the alphabet, which has 26 letters. But you conform billions of words with just 26 letters that if they were 32 building blocks of invention, you could combine them in any way and make billions of inventions. So we went through hundreds of inventions and isolated. What are the building blocks of those, For instance, any invention that’s based on a wave technology would be acoustics, optics, oscillations, diagnostics. There’s all have at their basis on understanding of how waves work, whether the mechanical waves or electromagnetic waves. Every invention has its portfolio of building blocks. We have tied to those, curriculum that helps explain the science of the building block. But the beauty is it’s interchangeable. So every Saturday you can come to the museum and you have a different experience. It’s not a static experience. Every Saturday there’s a different inventor or visionary or artists that you can meet, personally, interact with and see how they’re understanding applied to their invention, that scientific building block, that invention building block, how you see that intangible inventions. Then we thread that theme through the creativity lab and the fab Lab, where any visitor can actually do further hands-on experiments. Try out new things, and maybe we combined them in ways that they hadn’t thought of before. So it’s a way of having that dynamic excitement again. Back to my childhood, I was exposed to music, art, science, really incredible opportunities, but it was ongoing and changing all of the time, so we wanted to create that in this institution, but you have to have a structure. There’s a structure behind it. It’s not random. There is a structure, and that is the building blocks of invention.

James Di Virgilio:   20:38
Let’s talk about funding for a second because this is an interesting one. A lot of museums will exist off large grants from important families. State funding universities may support them. The Cade, most people assume, is heavily supported by the mercy of Florida financially, but that is not actually the case. The Cade is financially supported primarily through who?

Phoebe Miles:  20:59
The general public. We are a public foundation, and it’s been a blessing and a curse from the beginning because of the name Dr. Cade, of course, it opens doors. You can make things happen in some ways you have access that you might not have otherwise. But on the other hand, people think it’s supported primarily by the Cade family. Therefore, we don’t need to be a part of this. My dad did set aside a foundation that funds probably 1/5 of the operations now, but never enough to build the building that we had, and we realized early on that that wasn’t ever going to be possible. We were never going to have in our funding mechanism enough to build the museum. So we very early on started reaching out to people and bringing on small supporters. Supporters that would give $100 or $10 or $1000. But more importantly than the money we did partnerships. We did programs with partners and started demonstrating the model. And over time we were able to bring in over 2000 individual supporters to build the building that we have now and now we’ve blown past that, and we were able to become a public foundation, not a private family foundation. It’s really like, they say, in the radio announcements were supported by people like you, which is true, and we are grateful for every single donor because it does count towards that public status there many ways that they decide whether you’re a public foundation or private foundation. But one is the number of supporters you have that are non-family that are small donors. They don’t want any one family to control the mission and therefore you have to prove that you have support from thousands of people.

James Di Virgilio:  22:28
It’s a very modern story of crowdfunding.

Phoebe Miles:   22:31
It was like crowdfunding. I didn’t know to call it that at that time. But I am grateful that we did not have one major supporter, because then I feel we were able to develop much like a nautilus shell or a sunflower more organically and we were small, but we grew organically where we could sustain it. And it was still a beautiful project at the beginning, as it is now because it was organic and it was not one big thunder saying, This is the way it’s going to be that is not creative. If you have one person who controls the purse and the idea, creativity happens from a fertile intersection of hundreds of people really

James Di Virgilio:   23:07
And the freedom to be able to go where you need to get this process started officially in 2004. And here we are in 2020. And for most people, the Cade became something they were aware of within the past couple of years. So it’s an example of the organic build you talked about looking into the future. What is the vision for the Cade when someone in the year 2030 says, Oh, I’ve been to the Cade or I think of the Cade. What would you want them to associate with that experience?

Phoebe Miles:   23:32
What I envisioned for the future is that the Cade becomes a resource for other communities, other centers, other townships across the world that are really struggling with this problem of how do we leverage all the creative potential in our community? It’s there. We just can’t bring it together. Because if Florida could go from an export of produce to an exporter of ideas and inventions, specifically Gainesville, we can demonstrate how you bring it all together and how you can leverage what you already have to become more than the sum of your parts. And I think if we could export anything, it would be that idea that communities are transformed through a community, each person using the creative abilities, pulling in the same direction. And I think over time, by necessity, we had to expand our partnerships in that way, and it’s hugely exciting to see how we became better than the sum of our parts and better than I could have imagined because it wasn’t my idea. It was many people coming together, and we developed in a different way than I had thought but in a better way than I could have envisioned. I would love to share that inventive mindset with the curriculum to other communities. How do you pull in partners to do this?

James Di Virgilio:   24:44
We talked a lot indirectly about a lot of words of wisdom here that you have been sharing in your story. You work a lot with entrepreneurs. They encounter what’s going on, there is the Cade Prize every year of innovation. So much of your time is spent with inventors and entrepreneurs. What is a piece of wisdom that you would give to them that may apply to every entrepreneur or inventor, regardless of what they’re doing or what’s happening? Given your experiences.

Phoebe Miles:   25:08
My big advice would be to create your plan, have a plan. Have a vision, more vision than a plan. But hold the details of the plan lightly because you will encounter roadblocks, you will encounter pitfalls, and your original plan may not be flexible enough to deal with that. So hold your plan, but hold it lightly. Don’t take no for an answer, but be smart and listen to what people are saying and make adjustments. Don’t be afraid to iterate because you have to iterate. Don’t be afraid to fail because failure is truly a part of success. I look at every big success it’s using on the heels of a big disappointment, so be resilient. That’s a huge thing. The difference between success and not being successful is that ability to be resilient and to keep going forward and just keep your eyes on the vision.

James Di Virgilio:   25:57
Well, Phoebe, on behalf of everyone that’s interacted with you, been to the Cade, had a chance to get to know you and Richard, Thank you for doing what you’ve done. A lot of the work has been done behind the scenes. Most people have no idea what a labor of love this was. I know myself involved now in the pod and as a board member. Your vision for not only Gainesville but for innovation and humanity and creativity to intersect together is unique, and it’s encouraging and inspiring. And thank you for spending all this time doing this, right. It goes on notice, but it’s really thank you for that and thank you on this podcast for sharing all these stories. They’re certainly illuminating. Thanks for being a guest today.

Phoebe Miles:   26:33
Thanks so much, James. It was my pleasure.

James Di Virgilio:   26:35
And for Radio Cade, I’m James Di Virgilio.

Radio Cade is produced by the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, located in Gainesville, Florida. This podcast episodes host was James D. Virgilio and Ellie Thom Coordinates inventor Interviews. Podcasts are recorded at Heartwood Soundstage and edited and mixed by Bob McPeak. The Radio Cade theme song was produced and performed by Tracy Collins and features violinist Jacob Lawson.

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