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The Inventivity Pod
The Invention of the Cade Museum
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Stephanie Bailes is the executive director of the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, the sponsor of Radio Cade.  In 2017, Stephanie was drawn to the Cade’s mission of “inspiring and equipping visionaries, inventors and entrepreneurs.”  A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Stephanie knew of Robert Cade and his invention of Gatorade, but didn’t realize how transformative it had been.  As a girl, Stephanie considered becoming a pediatrician, but ended up with a degree in social work instead.   After seeing terrible cases of abuse, she “realized my heart was too soft to be on the front line.”   But at age 22, she decided she could learn the skills “to make a difference” by running a non-profit.   Along the way she worked in the telecom industry in Atlanta and Washington D.C. before returning to Gainesville in 2010 with her family.  

 

TRANSCRIPT:

 

Intro:

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.

Richard Miles:

“Spark wonder, invent possible.” That is one of the taglines of the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention in Gainesville, Florida, which also happens to be the sponsor of Radio Cade. And today we’re very pleased to have with us the Executive Director, Stephanie Bailes, of the Cade Museum. Welcome, Stephanie.

Stephanie Bales:

Oh, thank you for having me here.

Richard Miles:

So Stephanie it’s a little bit weird cause I know most of the answers to all the questions I’m going to ask you, but our listeners may not. So, um, let’s start out with the Cade Museum. Tell us a little bit what it’s about. A little bit of it’s sort of origin story. Um, and then we’re going to talk about something even more interesting and that’s you. So go ahead.

Stephanie Bales:

Well, I always start out with the mission of the Cade Museum, and that is to transform communities through inspiring and equipping future inventors, entrepreneurs, and visionaries. And I think that mission statement is so important because it contains really the spirit of who we are. Um, in two ways. The first component is transformed communities. And the second component is inspiring and equipping and, um, with the inspiration and the equipping piece, that is what we do every day in this beautiful facility that we have in Gainesville, Florida. And that’s where we bring individuals of all ages into the museum and really give them an opportunity to have hands on experiences, immersive experiences with science and art and technology, um, things that they might not necessarily come across in their day to day.

Richard Miles:

And why Gainesville and why invention, what’s the connection?

Stephanie Bales:

Right. So, um, I guess the inspiration for the Cade is, um, actually Dr. Cade and, uh, you know, our founder very well, Phoebe Miles. Um, she is the youngest daughter of Dr. Cade and Dr. Cade invented Gatorade. And Gatorade, you know, growing up in Florida. And well just growing up. Gatorade is a common product. You just think it’s there for um, times when you’re thirsty or hot and sweaty. And what I never realized until I came to the museum is that it was such a transformative product and it not only transformed, um, the science and medical industries that transformed the sports industry. Um, and it really transformed the landscape of university sponsored research. And those are things that you just don’t fully understand when you look at an invention that’s sitting in front of you. Sometimes we’re so used to just using it. Using what’s in front of you and you don’t think about really the implications of it and, and how it may have changed our world.

Richard Miles:

And I think one of the interesting things about Gatorade, and a lot of people may not know this, but that it didn’t start out in a corporate boardroom. This was not some sort of marketer’s plan to conquer the beverage industry. It was a, I mean doctor Cade was a research scientist, a kidney doctor, right? So this was really, they are just trying, he and his cogs are trying to solve a problem. Specifically for football players, and then kind of took off. Now it helped to be in Florida as you say, where it’s hot and we’ll drink damn near anything. So Stephanie, we’re going to come back and talk more about the Cade Museum and sort of what it’s doing and where it’s going. But I want to talk about you a little bit. Um, you are from Florida, from Jacksonville, correct?

Stephanie Bales:

Yeah.

Richard Miles:

Um, and tell me a little bit about, um, Stephanie Bales. So the young girl, Stephanie Bales, you know, what were you interested in? What were you like, um, you know, do you look back on your childhood and sort of see elements of, uh, this, uh, you know, affinity for invention and entrepreneurship back then, or did this drop into your life at a later point?

Stephanie Bales:

It did drop into my life at a later point when I was young. I always wanted to help people. I, um, my earliest kind of goal was to be a pediatrician. And as I went through school, I recognize that anything below the molecular level, I just wasn’t interested in comprehending. And I started to turn my eyes more towards helping the individual and um, helping them more in a sense of perhaps a social worker or something along those lines. So in my, um, in my studies and such, I ended up graduating from University of Florida with a degree in sociology and my first position was doing crisis intervention for physically and sexually abused children. And I did that for a year. And in that year I had three small children. They died from the abuse that they suffered at the hands of the people who were there to care for them. And I’ve realized as you can tell my heart was too soft to be on the front line, but I still knew I wanted to make a difference. And so in my inexperienced, smaller kind of worldview, 22 year old head, I said to myself, I’m going to go work in business and I’m going to go learn the skills that are necessary to come back one day and work for a nonprofit. And make a difference as an administrator because then I’ll be a little bit further removed from the day to day, but I’d still be able to help.

Richard Miles:

But you didn’t study business at UF.

Stephanie Bales:

No, not at all. And now I look back on my career and it’s just unbelievable that I have had the experiences on an international scale that I’ve had and the people that I’ve worked with. I mean, just kind of a quick breeze through it is, um, after I made that decision, I found myself in Atlanta working for Bell South Communications, selling yellow pages, ads over the phone. Quickly learned that was not my skill set either. But I was in it at a time where the local telecommunications industry was blowing up back then AT&T was a monopoly kind of like now Google and Amazon are monopolies and um, AT&T and the baby bells were broken apart. And so it was a ripe opportunity for other companies like MCI, Telecommunications, XO Communications, Telligent to come in and break into those marketplaces. And I was positioned in that innovative entrepreneurial startup environment at the very beginning of my business career. And so I must have worked for seven different companies in 10 years because of the nature of the environment. But in that, um, in that experience I understood the tenacity that was needed, the grit that was needed, the sense of balance and such and the volatility of working in startup and entrepreneurial environments.

Richard Miles:

Now we’re talking Atlanta, right? Let’s back up just a little bit for people who have grown up in Florida, one of the things that strikes me about Florida, the actual unified state is sort of a collection of cities and anyone who spent time in various cities realize, “Wow, they’re really different.” How was Jacksonville like the rest of Florida and how is it not like the rest of Florida cause it has sort of a distinct feel. Right? So you grew up there, you went to high school there and now you live in Gainesville. What makes Jacksonville, Jacksonville.

Stephanie Bales:

The Water. Jacksonville is so incredible. I grew up, I think I had a boat at the age of 14 and grew up water skiing on the Saint John’s not appreciating really fully the immense beauty that the Saint John’s offers because it was all I knew. Um, but it is such an incredible river. And then the ocean, um, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beaches, those were my playgrounds in the summers and pretty much year round. And so I think that element, the water, the fluidity, the restorative nature of water makes Jacksonville um, what it is. Also, we have a navy base there and we had a lot of banking industry and credit card financial service industry in Jacksonville. So you have that element as well. On the business side.

Richard Miles:

It’s always stuck me the Jacksonville doesn’t seem as southern, I guess as other cities in… Would you say that or is that maybe just portrays a fact I haven’t spent a lot of time in Jacksonville.

Stephanie Bales:

I think Jacksonville is probably more southern than mostly…

Richard Miles:

I got that wrong.

Stephanie Bales:

Yeah, no, I think that once you get south of Gainesville around Orlando, the nature of the state, the flavor of the state really begins to change. I feel like the state is separated into two parts. You know, there’s the northern part and the southern part, but Florida is a unique place.

Richard Miles:

Then you spent some time in Washington DC or in the area right you were there about a decade, right? Decade plus.

Stephanie Bales:

Yeah, about 15, 17 years.

Richard Miles:

You worked partly for telecommunications, but also did some other stuff.

Stephanie Bales:

Well, so this is when my, you know, early beliefs started to manifest itself. I was brought up to Washington DC. I was hired by a company called Telligent, um, to work in their environment in DC. And it was a big change from a girl coming from Jacksonville, Florida, and Atlanta. And, um, through that process, I started a small telecom company with a friend of mine and did that for a couple of years. And he, it really was his, you know, I helped him get it up and running, but it’s still in place today. But after I left that company, I decided to start working in the nonprofit world and I, um, was hired by Special Olympics International, which was probably the best experience of my entire life.

Richard Miles:

How long were you with them?

Stephanie Bales:

I was only with them for about, uh, 13, 14 months. Um, I was hired as their director of planning and so I helped put together their first global planning process, bringing in a million athletes, five regions, 72 countries, and aligning their budget with our operational goals. And it was an incredible piece of work to do. I think at the time I was about 28, 29 and it was very much a man’s world. And, um, it was a big challenge. And our first planning meeting happened on 9/11. And so, um, I will always remember the director of HR walking down the hallway toward me around 8ish in the morning. And he looked at me and he said, a plane flew into the World Trade Center. And I was like, Jeff, stop it. This isn’t even funny. He’s like, no. And we had several of our regional directors in the air from Egypt, China, etc. And that was a day where I really learned what it meant to be in a leadership position because our first responsibility was getting all the employees home and then leadership had to collectively make a decision. Do we use the time to plan for the organization to move forward or do we react to the events of the day? And we use the time for the next two days to plan. And if you weren’t in DC or in New York, I mean, it was a dead zone there. It was incredible. I mean, under lockdown, police, fire trucks everywhere. Moving around was difficult. Um, it was surreal. It was like being in a movie.

Richard Miles:

No, I remember that day well. I was also in Washington and I remember walking back from the State Department to the Metro and crossing Pennsylvania Avenue, and the secret service was out in the Middle Street telling people to run. That’s when you really feel like you’re in a movie and people were running. It was quite incredible. So you were in DC and then you return with your family back to Gainesville. So what drew you back to Gainesville.

Stephanie Bales:

I got married, we had two small children and we decided to start our own business again. Again, these are things that we didn’t necessarily plan, but just kind of happened upon. And um, my husband and I started a clothing company where we manufactured collegiate licensed apparel. So we learned a lot about the apparel industry, about um, you know, manufacturing textiles, uh, global distribution and supply chain. Also working with, um, you know, university licensing and such. We had a product that was sold all over the US.

Richard Miles:

So coming back to the Cade Museum, part of the mission of the museum is to create an environment or encourage entrepreneurs, not just inventors and entrepreneurs. Having been an entrepreneur or a business woman yourself, does that help you understand some of the personalities, entrepreneurs that we see in the museum. And what about it? What about them, I guess, do you understand because of your own experience?

Stephanie Bales:

I believe my experience is so suitable for what we’re trying to accomplish because it is so varied, uh, and um, and diverse and because it is very business and entrepreneurial heavy. I understand what the process looks like. I understand the life cycle. I understand, uh, you know, the challenges that inventors may have bringing their product to market. Um, but I also think I’m the right person for the Cade at the moment because I am an entrepreneur and this organization is very much a startup. And so for me, having this conversation is as much about being like a nonprofit entrepreneur as it is about being the executive director of the Cade Museum and what experiences we offer to the public.

Richard Miles:

The Cade Museum opened its doors May, 2018 and right now, um, it’s, it’s sort of in the process of getting known in the community of sort of building up an audience so to speak. What’s the next step for the Cade Museum, assuming that, uh, you know, we’ve sort of maxed out our possibilities in Gainesville. What, what comes next?

Stephanie Bales:

So the vision of the Cade is that we would have branded Cade experiences worldwide. And it’s kind of audacious to say something like that, but I believe that is what we will accomplish. Um, we are developing an educational framework that uses invention as inspired by Dr. Cade as the center point of both our visitor experience and our educational outreach. And I believe the goal of that is to eventually take that education and license it and bring it out into other communities. And we’ll choose communities based upon need. So we really believe at the Cade that there are whole swathes of the population that aren’t getting access to technology and science education simply because of their circumstance and their situation. And so our focus is on being that bridge to the innovation economy, if you will, and bringing this educational framework and the experiences that will be associated with it to these populations. So I often say we’re a museum with a mission. We’re not just for things, we’re a museum of ideas and we’re a museum to help build a bridge to the innovation economy.

Richard Miles:

One of the things I like about the Cade Museum, it’s uh, this paradigm, this origin story of Gatorade, which started out as a small little research project in Gainesville that was smaller then than it certainly is now. And it eventually became a, you know, world famous product that you can get anywhere in the world. So if that’s sort of the model, I think that’s a great model to follow, right? Start a small educational mission here, relatively small, and eventually branch out to the end of the world, the edge of the world. There are a few other connections that the Cade has with entrepreneurship, runs a prize. What is the prize about? Um, you know, I know, but I’m going to ask you to explain what is the prize trying to do and there’s an educational tie in to the prize. If you could explain a little bit about that.

Stephanie Bales:

So the Cade prize is there to recognize and celebrate innovative ideas that are within the state of Florida. And I believe we’ll see that also expanding and its scope over time, geographic scope. Um, but it’s really a vehicle for us to inspire and encourage those with innovative ideas that have a viable potential to bring them forth and to celebrate and recognize them.

Richard Miles:

And the thing that is exciting to me is the fact how using those adventures to come back to the museum and teach classes… I think it’s every weekend, right? That we have in there, inventors who sort of explain their technologies. Um, and what’s really neat is to see some of those kids or even adults, right? Interact with inventors who by definition are the experts on the technology. And it really ties, I think that image of inventors and opportunities together cause you’d sort of see in the flesh.

Stephanie Bales:

Well everything is inventor centered. And, I think what you’re illustrating, and you can say it so much better than I Richard, because you had been living it for about 13 years, you know, um.

Richard Miles:

Seems like 26 years.

Stephanie Bales:

If not 260. But, um, the thing that I love most about what we’re trying to do is we’re not just putting things or ideas in front of our guests and students. We’re bringing people in front of them as well. And that’s the connection of not just the head and the hands, but also the heart. I think we learn so much better when we’re able to look at someone in the eye and respond to them. And these inventors that we bring to us from the Cade prize and through university research facilities and such, it’s incredible to watch them come in and share their passion for their life’s work with an eight year old girl or a 70 year old man. Um, they all get to come in and have these conversations and learn more and understand more about either the invention or the inventor.

Richard Miles:

What has struck me in being involved in the museum and probably you as well, is, you know, we’re living in this transition time of just communication itself, right? How people get their information is changing so rapidly. This podcast is evidence of that, right? That the explosive growth in podcasts now and it’s definitely affected museums, right? And the way that people want to get information in, the most effective way to communicate it with them and museums have been affected by that same trend, right? That the way we do our exhibits, the way we do our programming, um, you have to, you want to retain some of the old ways, right? There are still things to look at, but as you said, you’ve got to go several levels now deeper in terms of an experience, it’s really interactive and remember interactive used to mean just pushing a button on a video. And now, you know, one thing I found very interesting is we did some of the research on the design of the museum. Is it, uh, all the things that 10, 15 years ago were considered really hot. You know, “Oh, look at this AV technology.” No one’s really interested cause we all, everyone has it on our iPod at home. So why would you go to a museum if it’s just an experience that you could have on your couch.

Stephanie Bales:

Exactly.

Richard Miles:

Uh, and so that has created real challenges for museums, right? It’s not that easy anymore. You can’t just put up a screen.

Stephanie Bales:

No, you can’t. And I think you have to, you have to offer authentic interactions. And I think you have to build a facility that allows you to change rapidly with technological changes. And I think that that is one of the most important elements of running the museum that we have, is making it adaptable. And we change. I mean, we change every week. We change the theme every time we change our inventor. That’s not something that you see very often. And, um, well ever. I don’t think you can see that anywhere in the country. But, um, for those of you who’ve never been to the Cade, um, the experience we offer is every Saturday we have a different inventor that’s featured in our rotunda and the education that surrounds the inventor, it reflects their work and, and it changes at least monthly, sometimes weekly. And so every time you walk into the Cade Museum, you will have a different experience. There isn’t any other place like that in the United States yet, but I think you have to be that adaptable to be able to survive, to stay fresh and to provide innovative content to, um, this vast population that can get there, get anything they want on their iPad or their phones.

Richard Miles:

And it’s why quite intentionally, right? We didn’t become a museum of technology.

Stephanie Bales:

Right.

Richard Miles:

Cause unless you want to be the museum of the Palm Pilot or the iPhone 4. You’d be swapping out exhibits every week. And you can’t do that. Nobody can afford to do that. Um, and plus it’s not a great experience. Yeah. Um, Stephanie, it’s been a great conversation. I think we’re probably going to have you back on again to talk about what the Cade is doing, where it’s going. Um, but it sounds like an exciting mission. It sounds like you’re excited to be here.

Stephanie Bales:

Oh, it’s an honor. I love every day, so thank you.

Richard Miles:

Well, thanks for coming onto Radio Cade. I’m Richard Miles. Thanks for listening.

Outro:

Radio Cade would like to thank the following people for their help and support. Liz Gist of the Cade Museum for coordinating and inventor interviews. Bob McPeak of Heartwood Soundstage in downtown Gainesville, Florida for recording, editing and production of the podcasts and music theme. Tracy Collins for the composition and performance of the Radio Cade theme song featuring violinist Jacob Lawson. And special thanks to the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention located in Gainesville, Florida.

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