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It was a moment when personal convenience trumped common decency. Desmond, our six month old, was in his cheery post-feeding bliss. And, as I moved him through our hotel room, Desmond performed a response not uncommon for full babies: He spit-up. And the carpet caught the brunt of his act.
It was in this moment where I miserably failed a test of honor. I simply and soullessly watched as the spit-up pooled on the hotel’s beautiful carpet. Without any ethical reservations, I smushed the spit-up into the carpet fibers with the sole of my shoe. With just a few spineless swipes, Desmond’s deposit disappeared. I can’t even pretend I waffled with the decision. The whole sequence lasted just seconds.
Since that regrettable moment, I have attempted to identify what motivated me to do it. Despite its incivility, there have to be at least meager grounds for what I did. This is what I know: I would never have done that in my own house. In fact, I recounted a number of home floor-scrubbing memories, moments where I busted out specialized cleaning products and bristle brushes to clean even minor blemishes, exhausting my arm and back muscles in the process.
Ownership was the difference between these Mr. Clean moments and the hotel room villainousness. I am deeply committed to maintaining my home. It’s a place where I have invested personal energy, money and time. The hotel room, however, was just rented space. I knew I would never see that room again, so I was unconcerned about the long-term cleanliness and vibrancy of the hotel’s carpet.
While I am deserving of scorn, don’t furrow your brow at me just yet. You’re no different from me. I’m betting you’ve Andretti’d more than one Hertz rental in your lifetime. Or, perhaps you’ve left a bathroom stall in a condition which your mother would not approve. The principle applies beyond carpet stains. It’s the reason dormitory bathrooms teem with innumerable bacterial varieties. It’s why my fellow Coloradans feel no shame in abusing their rental skis while shredding the mountain. It’s why old Soviet apartment buildings look worse with each passing month.

At HOPE, we are committed to not dictating to our entrepreneurs the type of businesses they should start and run. We avoid coaching them into specific ideas for the same reason I vigorously scrub our home’s soiled carpets. If we conceive it, they don’t own it. Business challenges become as dismissible as hotel room infractions. When our clients pursue their own dreams, no stain—a rough sales month or tough weather—is uncleanable.