SimGHOSTS Founder Lance Baily Ends Executive Director Role, Puts Rumor to Rest & Looks Towards 2018

01/08/2018


A Favorite Photo of the SimGHOSTS Team in 2014.


Seven years ago this month of January in 2012 I sat down with my then supervisors, the deans of the Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas, and suggested we put together a small conference geared towards those operating simulation technologies in just six months.

 

Having been in the industry for about three years at that point and worked as both a Sim Tech and Program Director, I felt that while the vendor events and organizational meetings were extremely helpful -- they didn’t specifically speak to my technical-based career. I suggested to my deans that we couldn’t be "the only ones hungry for more healthcare simulation technology content" -- and maybe we could get 30 people to come to our little event from the West Coast.

 

Turned out that almost 100 Sim Champs showed up from all four corners of North America that August, we had struck a nerve and SimGHOSTS was born! B-Line Medical and Pocket Nurse helped myself, Kam McCowan and John Cordova launch the initiative -- which finally became an official charitable non-profit 501(c)(3) organization by 2013.

Now entering our 8th year of service, SimGHOSTS has provided over a dozen events around the world, connected thousands of specialists in hundreds of countries online, supported the development of research into the emerging profession, built an incredible organization supported by passionate volunteers, and helped countless programs increase their utilization of simulation technologies to improve patient safety and professional learning outcomes.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the support of passionate people eager to develop this amazing career path. Over the past seven years, we have had the guidance, hours, and work of many key people to expand the growth of the organization. Early on, Ryan Eling joined the organization and helped take us from one annual event to as many as four a year! Ferooz Sekandarpoor became a crucial networker for engaging with vendors and supporting our efforts in the Middle East. Patrea Anderson and Kirrian Steer helped us expand and coordinate our first international efforts into Australia. Dr. Scott Crawford became President and guided our organization to greater stability and legitimacy. Nick Brauer has supported our efforts to affiliate with other organizations, while Lizzy Wooley and Billie Paschal helped our coordination, and Rachel Bailey and Stormy Monks our research efforts.

Vendors like Level 3 Healthcare, SIMStation, Laerdal, CAE Healthcare, B-Line Medical, Pocket Nurse, EMS, Moulage Concepts, TraumaSim, Cardionics, and Simulab have joined affiliates like ASPiH, SESAM, SSH, INACSL, ASSH, Simulation Australasia, SingHealth, IPSS, ASPE, HIMSS, PSMF, and PASSH to further our cause.

Brad Peterson, Jane Nicklin, Andy Anderson, Bryn Baxendale, Christian Cannady, Tom Doyle, Paul Phrampus, Amar Patel, Carolyn Yucha, Will Enfinger, David Johnson, Alf-Christian Dybdahl, Joe Pahlow, Kevin King, Robert Amoyt, Stefan Monk, Lynn Welch, Anurag Singh, Anthony Battaglia, Deborah Coltrane, Lucas Huang, Mohammed Alamar, Mathew George, Chris Gay, Jeff Golomb, Kiana McCourt, Joe Crain, Stefan Gisin, John Vozenilek, Graham Whiteside, Henry Henao, Richard Kuschinsky, Charbel Ata, Russell Metcalfe-Smith, Andy Smith, David LeCombe, Chad Jackson, Bobbie Merica, Nola Pearce, Chad Epps, Dave Broussard, Lori Lioce, KT Waxman, Suzan Kardong-Edgren, Dylan Campher, Stephen Guinea, David Rider, Doug Beighle, Ralph Krege, Stephanie Sudikoff, David Grant, Luke Wainwright, Christian Mueller, Joachim Hilbrand, and countless others have made SimGHOSTS what it is today -- far beyond the vision inside my 26 year old head in 2012. 

Even my mom Kim Baily, my sister Blaire Baily, my aunt Lori Buck, and my new fiance Abigail Mayfield have volunteered throughout the years to help our event team out!

Truly SimGHOSTS has succeeded in growing its support of the community through the passion of the community! Our greatest strength comes from our global network, our shared passions, and our agile dedicated and empowered team.

Achievement Unlocked: Ready for the Next Level

So many people have asked me over the years “Why did you make SimGHOSTS a non-profit and not your own business”? SimGHOSTS, in my mind, was first and foremost going to be an organization dedicated above all else to Sim Techs, or those operating simulation technologies. While earning revenue and growing the organization were important, everything has always been second to our mission: to increase support for those utilizing these technologies. The organization is for the benefit of individuals, institutions, and industry -- not myself.

SimGHOSTS has achieved so much in the past seven years, and I couldn’t be prouder of the work I have done to help develop and build this organization. But now, it is time to enable the evolution of the organization once again. About to turn 35, I am very happy to share that I have recently become engaged to Ms. Abigail, and am very much looking forward to starting a family in the near future.

While remaining on the SimGHOSTS Board of Directors as Chairman - this month marks the end of my ongoing daily support of SimGHOSTS as a staff member. SimGHOSTS is ready to evolve past my increasingly limited schedule and further connect into the community. I am excited to focus on my other core passion as a simulation industry journalist through HealthySimulation.com, as well as starting some other entrepreneurial projects.

I am very excited to share that Kirrian Steer from Australia, will replace me as Executive Director. Kirrian was the first international attendee to our US conference back in 2013. Her clinical, administrative, accounting, business, simulation, and technology backgrounds matched with her volunteer support of our events around the world in the past five years -- make her a perfect fit for taking over the challenging responsibilities of leading the organization’s operational duties.

Kirrian is also being supported by Andy Smith and the experienced team from Halldale Media, who are going to assist with Operational Management of the organization’s US-based business needs. Stay tuned for announcements from both groups this week before IMSH -- but know I will continue to provide ongoing operational guidance to ensure the organization transitions smoothly in their hands.

As I Change Roles, One Rumor That Needs to End

While I have very much enjoyed my time as Founder, Board Member, Executive Director and Development Director for SimGHOSTS -- there has been many difficult days of learning professional and personal lessons the hard way. Having never run an international non-profit organization before -- I’ll be the first to admit that I have made some major mistakes along the way. But of course, how else can you make a new omelet?

Perhaps you’ve heard that line from MoneyBall, “the first one through the wall always gets bloody” -- a saying I have come to understand very well as an entrepreneur. Doug Beighle from Simulab has reminded me through the years that “entrepreneurs fall forward and get up to do it again”. As I have felt my intentions have always been true, I’ve done my best to learn from such mistakes so that we do better next time. 

That all being said, by creating an international organization I certainly put myself on more radars, which lead to an understandable effect of being talked about. Sadly, as we all have experienced from playing “telephone” -- sometimes talk unintentionally turns to gossip.

Throughout the years, friends have told me about some of the things they have heard through the grapevine about me and SimGHOSTS. Most of it was bizarre statements which had no basis in reality, but that were innocent enough that I would just have to shrug my shoulders and carry on. One rumor though, has come up numerous times throughout my many years with SimGHOSTS has hurt me. I wish to end it today.

On several occasions, friends have come forward to ask if there was any truth to a rumor that I was taking large portions of the revenue from SimGHOSTS for my own personal gain. Everything from “Lance takes all the revenue from Vendor Event Sponsorships” to “Lance is planning to empty the SimGHOSTS bank account and move to Mexico”. Literally, I’ve heard these and similar ridiculous rumors word for word. Such statements have always painful to hear, as not only are they completely unfounded -- and actually way off the mark -- but at a deeper level put my motivations under unjust scrutiny.

For the record, SimGHOSTS Board Members can attest that the organization has paid me a monthly stipend of only $3,000/month since the beginning of 2014. In 2012 and 2013, I covered my own healthcare insurance and was only compensated $2,700 a month. I believe twice, and only in the years it could really afford to, the organization provided one additional extra month of compensation. During this time, SimGHOSTS has reimbursed me for my phone and internet bills -- as well as obviously covered my economy class travel and lodgings for our activities. 

When I resigned from the Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas in 2012 to run SimGHOSTS full time, I left my generous University salary and benefits behind and risked my savings to build something I believed would help our world. In other words...

I took a 70% paycut.

Always rejecting the notion that we should ever pay myself more, I have instead insisted to the board of directors that we hire additional staff members throughout the years (who did/do receive much larger full time salaries with benefits compensation), so that we could further grow the organization. Again, I made SimGHOSTS a non-profit because my goal was to help our community help ourselves -- not earn great financial benefit for myself. While the pay decreased, my work hours for SimGHOSTS has remained constantly full-time over the years.

In fact, while SimGHOSTS has always generated positive income from events -- some organizational-wide administrative mistakes were too costly and one year my mother and I each gave SimGHOSTS a $7500 loan to help it get through the end of the year. We paid her back with interest within six months --- but it took a year to get me back, without interest. The Board knows I’ve always been willing to financially sacrifice to help SimGHOSTS keep going, perhaps even to a fault.

Throughout this time, I have earned additional income from the other completely separate entrepreneurial projects I have helped to champion over the years, like HealthySimulation.com. Some years those things worked out, other years they did not. Over time though, I am happy to report that everything is panning out -- which is good news since I hear having kids is expensive!

Acknowledging my own fallibility, I won’t blame people for talking, for speculating, and even for gossiping about myself or our organization. Communication error is one of the many things our organization is trying to help improve in healthcare. We must, however, combat and correct unfounded rumor -- especially when the facts are, in least in my opinion, a completely different story.

All The Fish!

I will never forget the fun we have had along the way so far, whether it was celebrating our first Middle East event on top of the World’s tallest building in Dubai, or just barely finishing the best Escape Room our team has ever experienced in London, or surviving the Terminator 2 live action comedy show in Hollywood, or renting out the actual Star Trek: The Next Generation Captains chair for pictures at our SimGHOSTS booth... connecting with our team and other simulation champions has always been the best part of my job.

I am so thankful for the support of so many wonderful people around the world -- and can’t wait to continue the success of SimGHOSTS in its mission to improve patient safety and healthcare through the use of simulation. I remind our board often that each Sim Tech we help, improves the efficiency of their simulation labs bit by bit, which means better training for providers, and ultimately a faster recovery for the countless patients sim participants will see throughout their careers. “Everyone who works in simulation is racking up massive karma points!” I yell proudly at our board meetings.

I very much look forward to seeing you at our 2018 events in Memphis, Tennessee and the Sunshine Coast of Australia this summer, and all the work our volunteer teams are doing to better support this wonderful community!