The LoCo Experience

EXPERIENCE 93 | Hope Hartman on Empowering Small Businesses

December 12, 2022 Alisha Jeffers
The LoCo Experience
EXPERIENCE 93 | Hope Hartman on Empowering Small Businesses
Show Notes Transcript

Hope Hartman is the Executive Director of the Larimer County Small Business Development Center, located on the Front Range Community College campus in Fort Collins. The Larimer SBDC provides education and connection to entrepreneurs across Larimer County.  In this episode, we explore the role of the SBDC in the business ecosystem, Hope’s “why” in pursuing the role, and the meandering journey of an impactful career that positioned her for success in this role.

Hope’s first love was theater, and we explore how her understanding of parts and roles and characters helped her later in her career. We follow her path of becoming a teacher, her career shift to the University of Washington’s Center for Commercialization, becoming a key leader and shareholder of a software company in the technology transfer industry and finding love and a new home in Northern Colorado. Prior to joining the SBDC, Hope was operating a non-profit organization called Girls in the Spotlight. 

Hope is a quick-thinking, highly relational, and inspiring business leader, and I hope you’ll take the time to get to know her with me in this episode.

Check out the Larimer SBDC

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Music By: A Brother's Fountain

Hartman is the executive director of the Larimer County Small Business Development Center, located on the front range community college campus in Fort Collins, and providing education and connection to existing and inspiring entrepreneurs across Larimer County. In this episode, we explore the role of the SBDC in the business ecosystem. Hopes why in pursuing that role and we wander through a meandering and impactful career that positioned her perfectly for success in this role. Hope's first Love was theater, and we explore how her understanding of parts and roles and characters helped her later in her journey. She later spent time as a teacher and then had an interesting shift in her career working for the University of Washington in their center for commercialization. UW was and remains a leader in the technology transfer. And hope's passion for business was ignited during this time. She was later a key leader and shareholder of a software company in the technology transfer industry. Found love and her way to Northern Colorado, and was operating a nonprofit organization called Girls in the Spotlight prior to taking the role at the spdc. Girls in the Spotlight is looking for an adoptive executive director. If any of our listeners know anybody, hope is a quick thinking, highly relational, and inspiring business. And I hope you'll take the time to know her with me in this episode.

Curt:

Welcome back to the Local Experience Podcast. This is your host, Kurt Bear and I'm happy today to be joined and I'm happy to be joined today by Hope Hartman. And Hope is the executive director of the LaMer County Small Business Development Center, as well as the founder of Girls in the Spotlight. And so let's start by just describing the small business develop. Network and specifically the Lermer County office. Absolutely.

Hope:

Well, I'm thrilled to be here, so thank you so much for having today. It's, it's a treat. Yeah. So yes, the sp, otherwise known as the spdc, we are really, our whole mission is to help businesses grow and prosper and that's, Existing and new businesses. So the core parts of what we do, it's really a service based center. Mm-hmm. So a high value ad for a lot of business owners is that free confidential consulting. Mm-hmm. So we have alar, we have one of the largest networks here in the state, around 40 consultants. Summer generalists, summer specialists, and then also business education. But thinking of practical business education, not a degree, not credits. Something an entrepreneur or small business owner could come in and say, I need to learn QuickBooks. I need to learn, you know, and go and apply. Can you register my business? I need Yes. All the fundamentals. So we um, gosh, I don't know if you want me to get into this All right now, but we really help a spectrum of small businesses and entrepreneurs at a variety of stages. So it can be preve, first year startup years, two to five years, six to 10. And that's our sweet spot. Yeah. Is one of 10 years in business. Well, I

Curt:

know when. When I, cause I am a consultant, one of your folks, and I just had a session on, on Monday and you know, when you drop down, what are they meeting with you about? It's like, okay, business planning, startup capital planning resources, and there's whatever, 50 different things that your consultants meet with them on just as a broad category. Yes,

Hope:

absolutely. I think that's what keeps it interesting. And I actually, one of the things that I'm hoping to, for us to develop even more is that long term client relationship because as you know, at different stages, businesses change the needs change mm-hmm. And so to have that trusted confidant, that consultant, or again, more classes to further yourself. Yeah. I think there's always something

Curt:

to offer in this moment. Well, there was really, uh, as you know, I was in your, the small business planning class yesterday afternoon, and there was a pair of ladies in there from a very established 40 year old business, um, that are kind of new into ownership and management. And they've never really had a business plan, but they've got 30 employees. They've got a HR division, finance, and so that was a very well established and mature business. Also taking advantage of your services. I,

Hope:

I'm so delighted you said that. So actually, I love seeing you come to the center to teach that class about building the business plan with durability and purpose, because I always envision it as the people, they started something, they knew they were onto something, they got traction, and they realized they didn't have a plan for moving forward. And so I'm always suspecting that it's people at other stages of growth. Mm-hmm. but I've never heard of one being that season coming into a class. So That's amazing. It's been

Curt:

fun. I, I've really enjoyed that class over the years and I've a lot of people, you know, like, Hey, we built a five year. We did the five year plan. We finished basically two years ago and we've been kind of stagnant since then. Mm-hmm. So we need a new plan,

Hope:

you know? Yes. I think too, Kurt, I don't really know where we wanted to take our conversation today, but there's so many challenges right now, um, for the small business owners and I think a lot of people are having to rethink their business model. Uh, a lot of challenges with workforce, and so just having to look at how to do business a little differently.

Curt:

Why don't you maybe give us the lay of the land, uh, in your office, like who does what, how do you deliver all these products and services to the business community? And then before I forget, I want to hear about like, those challenges that are active now. How healthy is the small business community here in Northern Colorado? Mm-hmm. Okay. Um, so one at a time

Hope:

though. Yeah, sure. So about the team. So I look at this from a macro and a micro level. So we have four time, four time, four full time employees including myself. And we do have some very distinct domains, but we also, I mean we're interacting collaborative. Yes. And so we have an an administrative person who literally is picking up the phone, making sure clients get matched with consultants, helping guide them to the right class. And also

Curt:

doing a lot of emailing Kurt, when he forgot to finish his notes.

Hope:

right? We need somebody to keep us all straight. And also a lot of our backend systems and making sure everything's, um, in order there. And then we have a brand new program manager that started with me this year, so that helped. Offload some of the, um, responsibilities of the, the teammates that had been there for a while. And so she really focuses on that educational, um, those offerings, but also more opportunity for community collaborations, which we're really trying to grow and we can talk about that later. And, and, and she also gets into the, I mean, we're all in systems looking at different data points, and then we have an assistant director. She's been there for 12 years. Her role has really evolved over the years, but she's also, uh, like our primary fiscal coordinator, making sure, um, people get paid, making sure our contracts, you know, all. Stuff. Um, and yes, and, and well versed in the systems that we have to use because we, we have various stakeholders at the spdc and for those listeners who don't know, we are, it, it's federally subsidized. It goes to the state of Colorado, and then they disperse it across 15 centers across the state. And then we have local, um, stakeholders and sponsors as well. So there's a lot of people looking for data points from us. Yeah. Yeah. And so different systems that we use. And do

Curt:

you wanna give these teammates names? Names? Um, yeah, I think that would be honoring.

Hope:

Sure. Oh my gosh. Yeah. So Becky is our admin assistant. Mm-hmm. Sally is our program manager, and Terry is our assistant director. Hey guys. Thanks. Hope you listening. I love that. Thank you for helping me name my team members. And

Curt:

then also, uh, you guys are hosted at the front range community college. How, how is that play?

Hope:

Yeah, so people, uh, might not realize this, but all spdc, even across our nation, have a host institution. And so, uh, when it all started in Colorado, all of them were hosted at community colleges because that really is a lot of the apply, you know, gain these skills and get to work. So it made sense back in the day, but apparently this was established 35 years ago. And as things evolve and change and leadership changes, there's only two of us. Wow. Located at a community college, is

Curt:

that right? Mm-hmm. Well, good on front range for continuing that because mm-hmm. And this is no offense to the, the Denver area spdc, but they're, they're hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. Mm-hmm. And as hard as they might, there's just a, a lot of potential for Corruptibility between those two organizations there, where they have different goals and aims In a lot of

Hope:

ways. It, it's really tricky because there are, there are ones hosted by Chambers, by cities, by counties. Some are at, um, state universities, which would be more similar to the community college. And then some are even at Centers for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Curt:

Like the INE would be a potential host if front range got sick of

Hope:

it or whatever. Right. And we actually used to, um, have offices there because there was actually not space front range as our host institution. It's a Fed, uh, it's a funding situation. Um, but there wasn't any physical space for us. Right. So we literally just moved onto campus a few

Curt:

years ago. Yeah. Yeah. So, um, I guess why did you, you, you joined this. Team about a year ago, not even quite coming up. It was February 1st. Okay. Mm-hmm. Um, and, and surprisingly you and I first met, uh, well you didn't even meet me. I was just on a panel that was like, Hey, help us vet these finalists for this job. Um, but you impressed me quite a bit in your interview segment there, and Thank you. And, uh, I've been more and more impressed as that's gone along. Oh, thanks. But what was your why in that?

Hope:

Yeah. Okay. So there's a few pieces to the why, but part of it is I love entrepreneurship and that's been a part of who I am and things that I've been involved in for a matter of years. Um, and it was a matter of trying to find the right role where I could join a team. So prior to that, I was running my own thing, but somebody pointed me to the job. Oh, really? And said, I found something on LinkedIn. This one seems like it might be kinda like you. Yes. And I looked at it and I said, oh my gosh, I would love this job. I'd love this role. And it was about this time last year, honestly, that the interview process cool. Started and I think there were some other rounds and some things that had happened and they re reposted and reopened.

Curt:

So I was part of that. Yeah, they did, uh, did a big search. They were like, eh, mm-hmm. not sure we want any of these to be our next, so

Hope:

let's do it again. No, I was literally sitting in my parents' basement taking a call from HR at Front Range for that first initial just understanding of the scope if there were questions and preparing for the big community interviews. Um, so very

Curt:

exciting. Mm-hmm. So go back to my other question. Mm-hmm. How, how is the health of the, of the Fort Collins Northern Colorado business community right now?

Hope:

Yeah. Is that, it's actually. Good on many levels. I just literally came out of a workforce development meeting where we were talking about employment is really low, people are spending money, which is great for local

Curt:

businesses. So this demand people are still moving here to this region. So the the recession monster. Isn't biting too hard around here yet. Right.

Hope:

It's like everybody's, you know, concerned about that. And I think we all have to be careful of the self-fulfilling prophecy where it's like, things are going well, let's not freak ourselves out. Um, but right now we're in a healthy position. Yeah, good. And from what I was told at that meeting, even if something did happen months down the road, that typically were not hit as hard and it doesn't last as long. So I think that really says something about the health and sustainability of the businesses

Curt:

in this region. Yeah. I mean, honestly that's kind of been my voice even since, frankly, going back to the beginning of the covid season. Mm-hmm. was that it was only gonna magnify our ability to, to be a choice city and a choice region to live in. And people can bring their remote jobs from Seattle and Portland and Omaha and live where they wanna live. And they act basically like primary employers cuz they're importing money into our region that builds houses and buys cars and computers and all that.

Hope:

And so many people have. I mean, well, you know, I've been here just over 10 years and the housing market here is like nothing I've ever seen and that's a whole other issue affecting our small businesses. I heard this as well, and, and I'm hearing it on a regular basis. We've attracted talent, we've attracted people to the jobs that are available here. Mm-hmm. and they can't find a house. They're outbid. They literally can't move here. So, you know, it's a thing.

Curt:

Yeah. Yeah. Well, and it's, there's so many dynamics at play in that, but, but that, you know, the good things are also the bad things in, in an economy a lot of times, right? Mm-hmm. like that, that thing that is drawing people here and, and driving demand, keeping our businesses healthy is also straining the workforce and it's making it hard for them to afford homes. Right? So, Should we like, learn more about hope on this journey now? Or do you want to say some more things about the current business climate? We can talk about a lot of things. Oh

Hope:

gosh. There's so many things we could talk about. Um, you know, I mean, I'm, if it, if it's of interest to talk about my journey or like how did I get into business or entrepreneurship? Sure. Or we're

Curt:

gonna talk about that for sure. I think before we go there, even let's, let's talk about like the average, say I'm a typical. SPDC client. Mm. Um, I've started my business six months ago. Uhhuh, Uh, I've got some customers. I've got some things I've figured out and a lot more things that I need help with. Mm-hmm. and I'm kind of realizing the magnitude of the learning curve. Mm-hmm. so I sign up. Right. What's that look like? What's it look like from there? Yeah. Yeah. I think how, how do you guys process that new, new person? I

Hope:

think it depends on how people come into us and, uh, what we've found sometimes what people, what's hit people in the moment. If they fill out an online form, I need, I need an appointment with, please, I need help. You know, Yeah, yeah, yeah. We, we wanna verify because sometimes in a moment what somebody thinks they need is not actually what they need. So we do like to have that conversation with people, and then that really helps us match to the consultants we have available in our network. Or if there's a course or a training that they could take to fill on that gap of knowledge. Like, I now know what I don't know. And maybe fill that in and then say, oh, if you have further questions, like you, a lot of our instructors are also consultants, so those specialized topics that can further the conversation. But we really, you know, I don't like to waste people's time in general. And so I don't wanna waste consultants' time. I don't wanna waste business owner's time. So that matches important. And

Curt:

I mean, and you guys do a pretty comprehensive intake too, like mm-hmm. where are you at? Do you have customers, do you have any employees yet? Things like that. So we can know what we're getting into when we meet with somebody. Yes.

Hope:

I mean, sometimes it's interesting, you mentioned this earlier when we were chatting. Sometimes people get started and then, uh, they're like, oh, uh, I didn't realize I was supposed to get a, you know, whatever. I wanna say a permanent license. Hopefully people know about that, but sometimes you just don't know. You don't know. You need to register with the city or something. So we really, we do have some fundamental offerings to really just lay the right foundation. And a lot of those things, you only do it once, right? Sort of the nuts and bolts, but then, You know,

Curt:

growing from there. Take it from there. Um, so yeah, I want to jump in the jump in the time machine. Oh, All right. That sounds like a fun journey. You, you seem like a, you were a sassy young lady. Uh, how was, uh, fourth grade and where were you and what was your family dynamic?

Hope:

Oh, that's so funny that you called me a sassy young lady. So, um, in all honesty, I was actually a very shy child. So in fourth grade, you would've found I was a straight A student and you would've found me playing piano and creating a lot of artwork.

Curt:

Wow. Very introspective and introverted, even from appearances. Mm-hmm. is that your natural wiring and you're just showing up or have you evolved more? That's,

Hope:

uh, that's an interesting question. So, um, as far as like family influence, one of my parents is an introvert and one is an extrovert, and so who knows what's learned and what is genetic. Um, I would say, yeah, that was my predisposition, but what really changed things for me was the discovery of theater, which happened in middle school.

Curt:

Mm. Okay. Yeah. Fair enough. And, and where were you at? What, what, where am I? Like where am I from? Like geographically, and you have brothers, sisters as well. What are your folks doing?

Hope:

Yeah, so I'm from Lexington, Kentucky. Okay. Born and raised. I am a middle child. I have two brothers. Okay. Uh, one four year difference and then another eight year difference. Oh, wow. Yeah. Um,

Curt:

so middle child, but. Not too much different from Right. Like a lot of independence and separateness from them both.

Hope:

Right. It was, you know, with my older brother, we were playmates growing up and, um, we never went to the same school, oddly enough. And then with my younger brother, I mean, yeah, I, I, he even told me, In recent years, he was like, will you stop referring me as your little brother? People think I'm like, they haven't met me, and they think I'm a kid. And I'm like, right, younger brother. You're not my little brother, but I changed

Curt:

your diapers, So

Hope:

there, right. Um, my father years ago, he actually worked in the energy department for the state. And so, um, the, was that

Curt:

coal mostly

Hope:

Kentucky? Um, it was historically, yes. Not so much anymore. Right. So the, the lab where he worked doesn't even exist anymore. And um, it was kind of far out. There was a lot of farm, you know, horse farms and other farming in Kentucky, even though I, I grew up near the university. Um, so out there a lot of research and, um, he enjoyed that. But then at some point he switched jobs and started working at the local university and I think he's finally retired. Okay. We've sort of heard this retirement announcement for the last decade, right? Slow retirement. Right. Um, but he, you know, he likes to stay engaged. He likes to work on projects, he likes to make a contribution and I think it's good for people to stay engaged. A hundred percent. So no complaint there. My mother was a preschool Montessori teacher for 33

Curt:

years. Oh wow. And did you go to the same preschool or anything like that?

Hope:

Um, no. I did go to a Montessori school, but not so where I went, it was ran by nuns. And so when I was a little girl, people would say, what do you wanna be when you grow up? And I would tell everybody I wanted to be a nun because I thought that meant teacher That's all I knew

Curt:

as a teacher. So, and you must have had some very great examples of nuns in your teacherness. Oh, that's awesome.

Hope:

Oh, so, and then I was a teacher for a while. I was a public school teacher. I taught English language learners.

Curt:

Okay. Mm-hmm. So bring me back to middle school. Oh yeah. Because I also was a middle school theater kid. Um, Yeah, I remember. No kidding. One of the, I remember distinctively when I was in about ninth grade because we had to get makeup, right? Cuz it's in a play kind of thing. Right. And there was this girl that was a class below me that was applying my makeup on my face and she was like, you have so such great skin. And she was like getting all close to me. I was like, you're freaking me out here man. It was like the first time a girl like kind of touched her face, well, touched my face and kind of made advances toward me in a way So nothing happened. I love that. Actually. She was one of my first, but several years later. But we won't talk about that story. Oh my gosh, that's hilarious. So tell me about getting into theater for you.

Hope:

Yeah, so really what happened, because I have this ba, this background of being a shy child. I did have friends though, and a lot of them were neighborhood friends. And one of my closest friends, I always like to give her credit for this, her name was Katie Enright and she was on the speech and drama team our first year of middle school. And she said, you should do this. And I was like, And I was not athletic, so any sense of like trying out for a team was very intimidating. I was like, I don't know about that. And she's like, no, you just, you do have to memorize something. Like a minute. You have to show up, state your piece, you know, do your thing. And basically if you show up, you have your piece memorized, they're gonna put you on the team. And I was like, oh, okay. And that sounded interesting. And you know, I liked to read and I liked just sing and, and things like that. So I tried out, I got on the team and I really credit theater for changing the trajectory of my life because it just really opened up a whole new world of possibilities and really exploring different forms of communication, but also creativity cuz I had already had like the art and the music. Yeah. And so to me it was a very creative space. Filling that sense of like, community really, I credit it for, helped me have a sense of community. Yeah. Even though I was never on a competitive athletic team. And, um, and then we had a thriving local children's theater in my hometown. It literally, now it's in the heart of our downtown. It's a three story building. Oh, cool. Thriving. What

Curt:

a great community asset

Hope:

that is. Yes. And so that really, that was what I did for summer camp every year was theater camp.

Curt:

So how many plays have you been in?

Hope:

Oh gosh. Um, so I, I performed for a decade from about the age of 11 to 21. Wow. Oh, I don't know how many plays I've been in. Um, because in the early years it was speech team. Mm-hmm. so different categories and a lot of competitions. I was in all the plays at high school, so there were like three a year, and that was when there was junior high and high school, not middle school, so 20 something probably. Yeah, sure.

Curt:

Yeah. Mm-hmm. That's pretty interesting. You know, what's even, did you see the Disrupt HR event a few weeks ago at all? No. Um, so I was a speaker. I spoke on that hall relational intelligence model. Nice. But, uh, your, your competition for the S spdc. Job Jana, such as Herb Talk, was why you should hire a theater major. Oh, right. I need to send you that little video because you will get the biggest kick out of that residence in, because even the things that you were saying was like right up the alley of the things she was saying.

Hope:

Oh, no, I love that. We've actually, Jan I have spoken about this a lot. Our backgrounds are very similar, whether it's communication, psychology, theater, um, and also that sense of community. And you, you know about this. Mm-hmm. like. It's kind of core to it all. Um, but I, I, a few years ago, I was one of the speakers at our, what used to be called our Startup Week, when we had combined it with Art Up Week. And my talk is what entrepreneurs could learn from theater. Oh, interesting. And I had a, I mean, a decent little crowd. It was in the, the artery, the place online, the corner. And there were just such interesting people that came to that. People that are doing all kinds of things in our community, but have a background in theater.

Curt:

Well, in some ways, like when you become an entrepreneur, you need to be prepared to put on like 10 different hats. Mm-hmm. some of 'em don't fit very good, but. Doesn't matter. You just gotta get done. You know? And so that's a little bit like the act of play acting, right? Like, I'm gonna act like I'm a good financial manager for this business, even though if that's not my instinct or my background mm-hmm. mm-hmm. or whatever that is, right? Mm-hmm. gotta figure it out. Yeah. Right? Yeah. And play the part that needs to be played.

Hope:

Yeah. I think, I mean, gosh, Kurt, we could talk about this for hours. actually, there are so many parallels to me about entrepreneurs, and performers and also athletes. So to me, one of the thread is all of those roles, they are performers. It is about execution. You know, the execution of the, the execution of, right. Because think of it like this, um, you know, you could write a business plan, you could write a beautiful business plan, you have a script. It could be amazing script. You have a playbook as a, an athlete. But if it just sits there, right? What good is that gonna do? Anybody? Yeah. Or

Curt:

even if you don't practice what. Right. Need to do. Right. And then

Hope:

you asked something earlier, and I don't know if I addressed it, where it's like, people come in, they started a business, they're six months in now they know. It's like you can't do it alone. At some point you have to, even in the early ages, if it's a contractor or a third party service provider, that kind of creates that sense of team and realizing you're actually gonna be better when you start building a team or having some, some advisors around you, and don't try to do this alone. One

Curt:

of my favorite quotes, uh, and I probably say it once a month, at least in context like this, is, uh, it's Helen Keller. You know, the one I'm gonna say, uh, maybe, uh, alone. We can do so little together. We can do so much. And, and it's so true. As you, as you or me or anybody, uh, is able to scale a business or develop a team, it's like, oh my gosh. Three of us. I can do five times as much as I could with just me. Mm-hmm. you know, because of just those different strengths and thinking styles and just the ability to bounce ideas off of each other. So it's

Hope:

so critical. And that's something I really hope my team, when you asked me earlier about Becky, Sally, and Terry, I really hope that they give that spirit that it is a collaboration. We're all in this together, and all of our heads around the table are so better Yeah. Than me sitting in an office with a

Curt:

closed door. Well, and even as a solo printer, even if your team is one that's not really true. You've got, you know, a, a tax person helper, probably you've got a, a banker, an SBDC consultant person that's giving you some feedback cuz if you just stare at the problem and work harder at the problem by yourself. It's just, it's, it looms large and it just stays the same usually. Mm-hmm. So, so you go off, did, you didn't go off to uh, drama school or anything, but you continued in, uh, that, where did you go off to college? Somewhere after high school. Yeah. So

Hope:

it's sort of funny, I got accepted at a school in Florida. I always thought I would leave Kentucky. Know that's a big thing. Even though I was from the, the city and the university town, I was like, I got, I gotta get outta here. Right? Right. And then when it came down to it, I suddenly got very like, homesick before I even left home like the idea of like leaving my family, I totally cold feeded it. And so we had, we were actually on the way back from visiting this campus and I remember developing my parents on the drive home. I think I wanna go to uk. Oh. And they were like, what And I was like, I think I wanna go to uk. I don't think I'm ready to go move to Florida. And they were just, I hadn't even applied. Right. And they were like, okay, this should be interesting. Yeah. But I got in and that I lived in a dorm my first year and so I got in this really, really old dorm. Um, anyhow, so I just digressed. You were asking me something.

Curt:

I got caught up with that. Well, were you in the drama department? Cause you said you until you were 21, you did plays and

Hope:

things. Right. So I did the whole speech and drama team. I, uh, was part of the Lexing Children's Theater, so they also had an acting company for teens that I did, did the plays in high school. And then when I went off to school, I, I went to UK and my bachelor's is actually in psychology. Okay. And then I ended up getting, and I really wanted to get a degree in theater, but I thought it would not. Right. And, you know, but I just couldn't get away

Curt:

from it. Actually, your psychology pays so much better. Just kidding. I'm teasing it. At least it's useful

Hope:

in like this kind of stuff. Here's. People have often said, you have a degree in psychology and a degree in theater. And I'm like, they're both the study of human behavior.

Curt:

Right. And economics and sociology and anthropology, all

Hope:

those things. So it has, they have both served me well. Philosophy. Right. So I have no regrets about my, um, academic pursuits. But yes, my master's was in theater and I actually thought that I would become a theater professor. And by the end of my master's, honestly, I was quite burn out. Okay. And I just said, I wanna

Curt:

work just cuz of too much of it. Or did you get disenchanted by the way the machine worked in some capacity? I was

Hope:

disenchanted with University poli politics. No. Can you imagine anybody that works at the university is like, stop saying that, but I, I mean, I was like, this was the career I was getting ready to Yeah. You know, launch myself into and, and that was not appealing to me at all. So I just said, and I actually had a really good mentor and professor that said, Hey look, I mean he was basically very complimentary in saying like, you're good, but I'm gonna tell you this, if there's anything else. That you think you could do or that you would like to do, I'm gonna encourage you to do it. Cause this is a really tough world and it really hit me hard, but I. Thank you for telling me that. Right. And I just thought, I'm gonna get a job. And that's actually when I started working for local businesses in my hometown.

Curt:

Okay. Um, tell me about that first real Joby job.

Hope:

Yeah. So, uh, I had the good fortune of working for locally family owned and operated businesses. And so that was real, my first exposure to working closely, uh, with an entrepreneur. And, um, it was a coffee shop. Okay. And she had started that business out of her father's garage and he became her master roaster. Okay. And she went around to all the local businesses in my hometown of Lexington and said, I can get you the freshest cup of coffee cuz I roasted here daily. And that's how she built up her business, was first delivery to these products, to the businesses. Wow. Mm-hmm.

Curt:

And so then, oh, just like bulk delivery? Yeah. Like, here's your coffee.

Hope:

Yes. And, um, now, so that company has been in business, I think they're past their 30 year anniversary. Cool. So it grew from her father's garage to delivering coffee beans or ground coffee to the, to the local businesses, to, she has a brick and mortar where half of it is a cafe. So back in the day, I, we waited tables. Mm-hmm. but our whole menu was hot beverages. Yeah. And, and some local bakeries and things like that. Right. Pasties, whatever. And then the right next door, but all under one roof was the retail. So you would walk in and there's just bins of coffee, beans from all over the world. And then flavored coffee is Oh wow. Big in my hometown. Yeah. Yeah. Hazelnut, Irish cream, whatever. All bulk. Like all bulk. So that's cool. By the

Curt:

panel. That was early. Uh, like it's starting to become a trend now, kind of from a sustainability movement and stuff, and I like it a lot better that way. Yeah,

Hope:

you have to. I mean, I'm, I'm dating myself here, but I worked there back in the early nineties, so this was way back. And, um, and then they have all the other stuff, the mugs, the travel mugs, all this journals and um, and then what's the name of the place? Um, yeah, so it's Lexington Coffee and Tea and Coffee Times. So Lexington Coffee and Tea is the retail, they also have a white label. Yeah, for other local businesses and a delivery service. I mean, they have a fleet of people that deliver coffee. Well,

Curt:

a lot of great business, but it was just little tiny thing when you started there. Tiny

Hope:

thing. Right. And then, um, coffee Times is the coffee shop and they, they have done away with table service years ago, and you order at the bar, right. Um, but I always go, when I, I'm, I'm going back home in a couple weeks and I always go there and I usually get to see the owner and her husband was the main like driver. And um, and then sometimes I'm out in restaurants when I go visit and he's like delivering the coffee to that restaurant, you know? So Very

Curt:

cool. Very cool. Mm-hmm. And so you mentioned there was a few small local businesses. You moved from that one to another one at some point

Hope:

near We had a real, uh, amazing privately held bookstore called Joseph Beth Book Sellers and I worked their back in the day when Joseph and Beth were married, and it was their store and they expanded it and had a little cafe and so well, and at

Curt:

a time when book sellers were shrinking generally.

Hope:

Oh. And, and, and it still stay. It's a huge, there's a huge open atrium. Oh, there's a, there's a restaurant, there's a, well, there used to be a travel agency. You don't really need that anymore, but I mean, it, it was a community gathering place. Yeah. So there's sort of a, a theme. I I'm hearing that. Um, so you'll know and I'm like, oh, no wonder, you know, um, but I don't really know how to. Do work. And were

Curt:

you building community kind of a, a entry level peon, or did you get recognized pretty early as being somebody that could really contribute and wanted to, to be a partner even though you weren't an

Hope:

owner? Yeah. I appreciate that. So when I moved over, so the coffee shop, they let me have a variety of roles and like moving up was not serving drinks, it was working in the retail and then working in the back and doing the Christmas orders for all the people that ordered the gift boxes. Like you got behind the scenes. Right? Right. And you got to see like the, the flow of the money and all that bit for the bookstore. Um, what happened is someone that was at that coffee shop became the manager of the cafe at the bookstore and said, Hey, we could pay you more, right? And I was like, well, you were great to work on it. I like that I'm there and I love books. I'm always loved books. So did that. I'm in an early age, but when I, when I moved into the, the book store itself, uh, I mean, They're under four year in cafe and bookstore. Four years. Yeah. So I was never positioning myself like, Hey, I don't, it wasn't gonna be like a right, but the difference is, you know, do they trust you to be on the, is like taking me back. Do they trust you to be on the, on the register Yeah. Where you're handling money. Right. So there were certain people that were always assigned to register so that that trust was there. But also the bookstore was so big you would have your section to manage. And one of my, two of the last sections that I managed, one was philosophy. And so you got to kind of see like the book, the trends, like what books were people buying, what books were people talking about? What was the latest and greatest, what did we need in the store? Yeah. Um, and then I ended up in the children's section because I always thought that that team was so much fun. Right. And I got to do all the fun stuff and story time and all this bit. And um, and both were great in their own right, but the children's section. Like it's a bookstore in and of itself. Um, so just some great people and yeah, there was trust in the responsibilities given to me.

Curt:

Yeah. Mm-hmm. Um, let's kind of, we can't hit every stop along the way, probably if you're like most people. You've had too many. But tell me about some of the highlights as your, as your career developed. And what I think I heard was that you hadn't really been exposed to small business and entrepreneurship much through your growing up years and whatnot, and then really seeing, oh, this is how this little machine works. You know, we've got the wholesale coffee and the delivery stuff, and all these and that. Mm-hmm. you know, and whether you're ordering books and selling 'em at margin or mm-hmm. or roasting coffee and selling it at wholesale. Yeah. That was really, it seems like where the passion for that living breath. Entrepreneurial organism came from, that's

Hope:

definitely where the seeds were planted. And I think, uh, I'll try to create some bridges among some of the, the milestones. But, uh, there is also a big part of me that's always been highly service oriented service leadership. And so that's, you know, I was a public school teacher for a while and that feeling of giving back and having a positive social impact. And so where does that meet with entrepreneurship? And there's a lot of opportunities for that, right. In building community. So I'm just gonna fast forward a past when I left the, the world of, you know, retail and, and books and all that. I did teach for a while. Yeah. And then I moved to Seattle. And when I moved to Seattle, I did not wanna teach anymore. And so I started working at the local university and ended up in the technology transfer office. Oh, and low and behold, after getting sort of a street smart degree and managing intellectual property and technology transfer and working with attorneys every day and researchers making new discoveries, we started an initiative to spin on companies based off of those innovation. Yeah, so,

Curt:

which is was really just developing at CSU here in Fort Collins over. 10, 15 years, you were ahead of the curve on that, I imagine. And

Hope:

probably because it was a, you know, the coasts move a little faster. Right, right. So, and then Seattle was just such a hotbed for, I mean, they had a thriving angel investor community, VC community.

Curt:

Can you circle me? Is this pushing on like 2000 now? Yes. There's like an internet and stuff and people are kind of wild westing it, seeing if our computers are still gonna work on January 1st,

Hope:

2000. Right, right. Yes, yes. So, um, I, again, just a lot of, I feel like doors have opened and really what's happened is it's been through relationships. People that have worked with me, uh, and they've opened those doors for me, and I've said, yes, yeah, you know,

Curt:

but how was it that. Like associated with that tech transfer office. And it doesn't seem like you were like a big league qualified, but you're a fast learner, obviously, and so you just sponge that stuff up.

Hope:

Yeah, no, I appreciate that. So when I was a teacher, I worked at a math, science and technology magnet school. I see. And I mean, this is how it works, but certain algorithms grab onto key words. And so you've got technology at a math, science and technology magnet school, and then you've got technology transfer. And so when I remember talking to the people and I. They're like, do you know what technology transfer is? And I was like, I have never heard of it. You know? And so they explained what it was about and, uh, and said, you don't have to know the ins and outs, but right now that department needs some help with even just like, getting themselves organized. And I was like, well, I can do that. You know? Um, and then I learned a lot along the way. Yeah. So, so then this entrepreneurship thing came back up because it was people trying to spin out companies and at that point it was highly, you know, think of intellectuals like making way in their field saying Maybe I could start a business too. And those personality types, and they're not always the same person. Yeah, yeah. Every once in a while there's an anomaly. Yeah. Yeah. Right. So it was, uh, we were creating this, uh, structure where people would write a business plan, um, identify they needed a team, and what kind of talent and what was their role. Mm-hmm. were they really CEO or cfo or cto. Mm-hmm. And then saying, okay, now you're dealing with, um, High growth, high opportunity technology. You know, you're gonna need money. And this isn't about applying for a little grant where you're like, I need $50,000. Right, right. This is like hundreds of th like we had to help them think big. Yeah, yeah. Like, no really long term for a year. What do you need? What talent do you need to hire? What materials do you need? So a lot of education and connections with the greater community. And did

Curt:

you use like in. Finding this nerdy scientist that's invented something and then trying to figure out whether they belong as the CEO or the CTO and stuff. Like, how do you go about that? Is it like personality profiles, different experiences and testings? Like who knows who makes a good ceo? We have all different flavors.

Hope:

Right, right. That's a great, I, I don't, we did not have any kind of personality testing and that office and center has evolved so much and they have entrepreneurs and residents, and maybe they have some of these tools to help people identify their strengths. Yeah. And what roles would be good and who they need around them. Um, lots of times it, it, it was finding out the, the passion for that researcher. And if they're like, I love being in the lab. I love discovering the solution to these sometimes global problems. It's like, well then you, your role would probably be chief scientific officer or technical officer. And if you're like, Hey, business plan or a pitch, you need money, you're gonna have to pitch. And they're like, or they do scientific presentations where there's. So much information packed. Yeah. You're like, this is This is not meant to be, you know, I haven't

really

Curt:

thought about this before, but it seems like there's a lot of like, picking of things like if the, if the college develops this technology or this thing, and you know, if it isn't the founder or the inventor of it that wants to monetize, which a lot of times it's not because they're different kind of personalities. Like how do you decide who should run with this? And then is it, do they like lease it for a while or buy it on installments or like they must pay the university for this thing that's been created. Right? Yeah. So

Hope:

technology transfer really it's, um, the, the history of that model wasn't so much focus on startups. It was licensing, licensing to major corporations. So think Sonic Toothbrush. Sonic Toothbrush, that was one of our IP out of dub. Right. I just use mine this morning. Right. And then Gatorade was IP Outta Florida. So there are products that we all use on a, on a daily basis, but people don't realize that it was originally founded at a university with university resources. And because of that, um, that intellectual property belongs to those universities. Right. And that's what the technology transfer office did was try to find the companies that would be interested and that would have more infrastructure, so Right, right. In an ideal world, they license it to the big corporation,

Curt:

Hey, Phillips Corporation. Right. You guys do toothbrushes, right. Do you think you could, you want to make better toothbrushes, right? That don't just spin but also do stuff. That's right. Whatever. It's

Hope:

a product to get it into the hands of the public and then they sell the product. And due to the terms of the license agreement, there's a percentage of that cell that comes back per toothbrush

Curt:

or whatever. Yeah.

Hope:

It's a beautiful cycle when it works and, but it doesn't always work. fair,

Curt:

you wanna, was there any particular successes from that season in. Journey that you'd like to mention that you, that you're

Hope:

allowed to? One of the ones that I really love, and I mean it's, it's, um, so I remember, uh, the inventor, his name is Preston Vanhooser, and he still works at the university. To my knowledge, he has spun out multiple. He is one of those highly intelligent, loves discovering new things. Um, and like keep shaking it up, you know? Yeah. And, um, at the time it was something called a misting station, and it was really something used in, in labs for testing different kinds of potential treatments for cancer and things like that. But it was a way to disinfect, uh, certain experiments without using your hands. Literally mist it, like sprayers, misting. And it was like, you wouldn't believe how people would balance. And they used to like spray and have to spray. I mean, it was really ridiculous. And it's like, why hasn't anybody thought of this sooner? And, um, that was, that company was acquired by a huge medical device company. Mm-hmm. And so, um, that was really, you know, He had invented things before that had been licensed. And he was like, yeah, the first check I received from royalties was like, I'm not kidding. It was like under $5. And it was like, you know, I was like, you're gonna receive some royalty payment. And then he is like, and I was like, oh, he framed it

Curt:

any, uh, spectacular failures, like, oh, well on the things that you thought were gonna work. And then they just, nothing, they wasn't a commercial application that would fit. So

Hope:

the things that we found when, honestly, Kurt, when things fell apart, it was usually because the team fell apart. Mm-hmm. and, um, sometimes, and this happens, if anything. Yeah. But, um, good ideas can be killed

Curt:

by a bad team for sure.

Hope:

right? You have maybe more than, maybe more than other industries a. Really big egos when you have some, the top researchers who are published, they're getting PhDs, whatever. They're all, all of 'em are PhDs. Right. And that can get in the way of doing business. And so we had one team that they had known each other for a long time. They had been to school in California, then came to Washington together. So we thought they were solid. Wow. Right, right. And their device, it was a cell separator, um, to help detect, um, recurring cases of cancer. Mm-hmm. So after someone had already had it to be able to detect early. Um, and that team just completely implode. It was shocking because when they would come to us and we'd be looking at their pitches and looking, they, they seemed to have it together. I guess they presented very, they. So well. Yeah. And so that was unfortunate. But these things, you know, when you don't have the right players, if you don't have a leader that can make the change. Yeah. It can kill a

Curt:

team. So did your office also go about like trying to find angels to invest Absolutely. And organizing that community and are at least helping them stay connected and hear about new opportunities and stuff like that?

Hope:

Mm-hmm. So in Seattle it's called um, the Alliance of Angels or the Tech Alliance. Okay. And so we had some amazing angel investors in Seattle and they're all, I see them on LinkedIn. They're all still really active and they love to invest locally of course, because I think when I moved here I tried to get some of them interested in Colorado technology and they were like, we really like to like keep it in. It's

Curt:

like, okay, have you connected with the. Angels here, the Northern Colorado Angels or the Denver Angels Groups. Um, so the

Hope:

Rocky's Venture Club. So yeah, that one when I first moved here from Seattle, because I had gotten to know people in that world and, and, um, just appreciated what they were trying to do for our, our local economies. I actually would go down to Denver and attend workshops because I wanted to see like what, you know, what's is RVC thing about? And I was very impressed with the quality of education down there, whether it was for the entrepreneurs seeking angel investment or even education for angel investors. Mm-hmm. Cool. And the due diligence and all of that. Um, and so, and, and then I actually ended up doing volunteer work for them for what used to be called Biz Girls, which was their program to help teenage girls spin out companies. Yeah. Um, and that was an amazing experience.

Curt:

I, uh, just yesterday, um, heard from one of my. When I first moved to Fort Collins that Monday after my first day of work, I went into the right card and I met a young lady that was like, why are you so smiley? And I was like, well, I just moved here this weekend. She's like, oh yeah, where are you from? And I said, North Dakota. Oh, get out. And she gave me like the Elaine shove literally upon meeting me, um, because she had just moved there like a year before from North Dakota. Aw. Um, but she started a talent business. Uh, Laura Levine is her name, Levine and Associates, and she specializes in tech industry recruiting for especially females in diverse audiences and things like that. Nice. So she's gonna a future episode here cuz she's coming to Colorado in January. Fantastic. Yeah. And, uh, anyway, so she was working on things that you were working on as well and uh, so you were working on that vein for quite a while. Mm-hmm. Uh, a single gal all this time. I, I've met your husband and things. Oh, that's, so have any idea how long you've been together? Did you bring him back from out there?

Hope:

Yeah. Um, in those we were not, we did not know each other. When I lived in Seattle, I was in a completely different relationship. Okay.

Curt:

Yeah. But he was out there as well? No. Oh, okay. I didn't think so. So, no. So, so he doesn't come, he hasn't entered the picture here. No, not at all. So where, where are we now in, in terms of chronology and next step? Mm-hmm.

Hope:

So, um, I ended up getting recruited out of the university by a local entrepreneur in Seattle who was running a software business that specialized in intellectual property and technology transfer manage. Interesting. Yep. So, um, he knew that I knew in the networks effect, right? Absolutely. We met at a conference, we sat at the same breakfast table and, um, so. And, and I didn't know anything about software and that was my big concern. And I said, here's the thing. I appreciate you saying you're expanding your team and maybe I'm the right fit, but I don't know anything. I just, I don't know if you want

Curt:

me. I turn computers on and then I use it and then I turn 'em off. I know

Hope:

enough to make sure they're plugged in and the power's on before I call it for help, you know? So, um, he said, no, we're looking for a certain type of person and we can teach you what you need to know because they were already a global company. They, uh, really excellence in customer service training and. And he was right. I learned a lot along the way and that, and it was a small company. I ended up becoming a shareholder of that company. Oh, wow. Um, so I actually, I love that job too. I love to learn new things. And so that, that keeps me stimulated. And so again, it's like I learned intellectual property at one place. I learned software in other place. I learned about local businesses, you know, about coffee and different types of coffee roasts and all this stuff. So, um, but what I loved about that, that community was an international community. And because I, when I was a teacher, I taught English language learners, which also had that international and learning of other people and cultures. So there's, there's some little things. Fill

Curt:

a

Hope:

little bit there. Yeah. Yeah. I always like to just, just try to keep the big perspective, you know, I like maps, I like to remember it's a big world and we're all people, you know,

Curt:

So tell me about that. Um, Becoming a shareholder element. And was that something that was like offered to the whole thing or you showed a special shine and passion and so you and a few others were like, here if you wanna, we can't pay you enough to keep you yet quite, but it'll give you a little cut of the action. It's

Hope:

funny, I haven't thought about this a long time. It was not offered to everyone, and you had to have worked for the company in the past. It was, you had to work full, full time for five years and then maybe you would be invited. So there were only three others. Um, and then they offered it to me when I was there year four. Um, but I, I, again, there was just so many of the right elements, the opportunity that that CEO was incredibly empowering. And so when I joined our training was a, a team member flew on site to all these institutions of higher ed. Um, we had some places that specialized in, in medicine and life sciences and. I was like, why aren't we doing this online? I mean, this was years ago. This was before Covid. Right, right. Right. And um, he was like, well, we've just never done it that way. And I'm like, oh my gosh. You know, the, the expense, the time, the, you know, all this stuff. And he said, if you think you can develop it, go for it. So I developed all of our online training. I developed a webinar series, and um, then we started doing regional training. So then we said, but you know, people do wanna come together. Yeah, yeah. But let's do trainings when we have these regional, we, we'd have, our network had regional conferences across the US and a national conference. And then we also did the national conferences in Canada and Australia and Europe. So you

Curt:

had those opportunities that people were gonna come together anyway. Let's do some stuff there. Mm-hmm. and not be buzzing people all over the place.

Hope:

That's right. And they wanted to talk to each other. You know, it's, it's kinda like getting business owners together. They wanted to talk to other people in this field or other people using our software, sharing best practices and tips. You know, what are your challenges or what are, or they would also inform our development. I mean, we'd hear it right from them. Like, what are, what do you need? What are you looking for? Yeah. So we got this direct input, a lot of

Curt:

customer survey kind of element to that. Mm-hmm. Interesting. So

Hope:

there was like, I spearheaded a lot of like expanding our training, but then also, um, I don't really like to tell people this, but I'm actually pretty good at sales. Um, And so I became the director of business development. And then eventually he, he asked me to be the VP of business development because it was this, not just the product, but it was also the, the training services that came with it, expanding your use of the system. But I also got us into, um, some new countries. We had never been in South America and everybody said, you won't be able to get in there unless you have someone on the ground. And I wasn't. I lived in Seattle and we were able to get into three countries down there, and I doubled our business in Australia. But see, to me, it's always about the relationship. And that's why I say I don't want to say that itself because it's about the relationship. Yeah. Yeah. And, um, people still have like this idea of some smarmy, something that's happening and it's like, no. Are, are we the right solution for you? Yeah.

Curt:

Right. Help you say no. If that's the case. Uh, when I first started in my banking career, that's what they called us, we're relationship manager one, relationship manager two, you know, We were a Midwestern bank in that we all were grossed out by being like sales people too. Right. Your selling loans selling the bank. Right. Uh, anyway, I digress. But that is really how business gets done ultimately, is there's, there's trust established and yes, there's a product management kind of element. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. the product. Gotta do what? Your customers want it to do, right. Dependably. Mm-hmm. and, and all that. But then ultimately there's, there's people. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. So, um, so this is still all in Seattle. Mm-hmm. and what's, uh, what's next? Yeah. If there, unless there's other principles you wanna really share about this organization or big

Hope:

learnings. I don't think, I mean, the only thing that I would just say is it, you know, maybe for anybody out there that is a business owner and they're in a leadership role, like sometimes I think business owners and entrepreneurs, they think they have to figure everything out. Where if they would really get to a point of saying, this is the part I really love, this is where I can tap into some of that passion. Yeah. And let other people who are good at other things, Take the lead and empower other people. It's, you know, and he was great at that. And I always, and he was also frugal in regards to financials. Like, he wasn't about

Curt:

flashy, he wasn't just throwing this stock around or driving Lamborghini or nothing. And,

Hope:

and he wasn't like, we're gonna go out for lunch every day. But what he would do is like, have an end of the year, like an amazing gathering and bring somebody with you and you know, so he would, you know, also he forced you to take time off.

Curt:

Generous and prudent. Yeah. Sounds

Hope:

like it was like, if you don't take your time off by the end of the year, you lose it. And it was very generous. Like you'd start back in the day before there was like unlimited vacation, all this things that startups do now. Um, it was, you start with three weeks off from the get go. So, you know, back in the day, cuz again, this was some time ago, the maximum was like two weeks. So it was like three weeks. Yeah. But then you'd always be accruing more so at a certain point you, you would get like five weeks. Yeah. Yeah. And, um, he, so he was Australian and he's like, I don't get with Americans. Like, you need to take a break. It is really better for everyone if you do. And I appreciate that. And, and, okay, this is a little bit of a side story, but when I became a mom, so I was still working for that company, but I had since moved to Fort Collins and he asked me to open a field office here. So I was in the third, on the third floor of Cafe Veno. Oh, okay. And I had a team, including myself, we were a team of five. So we were the first field office outside of the Seattle Wow. Um, headquarters. Um, and then I became a mom and he said, okay, when do you wanna come back to work? And I said, I don't know, like, when did people come back? I've never done this before. You know, so we had kinda decided at week six I'd come back part-time. Okay. And he kind of said, I forbid you to come back fulltime Okay. And in fact, you will only work part-time for the first six months. And I was like, Okay. Cause I really like to work. Right? But I'd never been a mom. I didn't know, you know, I didn't know he more, and he knew more than I did. He had a couple kids. Um, so I, again, like to me there were so many things that he demonstrated of how you can have those long-term relationships with team members, with your clients or customers, but treating your team right, finding the benefits that work for people. Yeah. Cause you know, that could have been a game changer. He could have done that a different way and maybe I would've quit my job.

Curt:

Right. Yeah. You know, a hundred percent. Uh, I wanna back up a half step cuz you like moved to Fort Collins and you had a baby Like there had to been some, some

Hope:

lead up to those decisions. Like didn't like, you know, my husband, you're like, where,

Curt:

what? You know, I'm, I'm not a scientist, but I know

Hope:

something happened between Seattle and here. So, uh, when I left, I had mentioned I was in another relationship in Seattle, and so when I left Seattle, part of it was that relationship was completely falling apart. I just had to leave the community. Mm-hmm. But I love my job. And so the beautiful part about working in tech, and this is something that it just, I hold in my heart for people that get into that space with a phone and a computer, and now just a computer. Right. You don't even need a separate phone. Right. You can work from anywhere. And that was empowering and liberating because I wanted to keep my job, but I just, I, I had to tell 'em, I said, I need to leave here. Yeah. And I'm gonna go back home. I'm going back to Kentucky. Wow. I just need to get. Get back to my roots, get back to the people that have known me my whole life and just like assess what has happened over the last, that was a 14 year relationship Oh wow. So it was just kinda like, I need to recalibrate. I need to reset. And he said, would you consider still working for us? And I said, no, I would love to. I wanna keep working for you. And he like, tell us what you need. So he equipped me with a company's cell phone and my computer and all this stuff. Paid for part of the internet, you know, all these things. Yeah. Um, so yeah,

Curt:

just kinda had in Lexington. Mm-hmm.

Hope:

Okay. So just had a little bit of a reset. And then my husband was actually in the technology transfer industry and that's how we met at a conference. Fair. Yeah. And so, and so, you know, we, we knew the same network. Mine was global. His was more national and regional fair. But we talked a lot of shop Right. Nerd. Now we still do. We still

Curt:

do. And so, and then how did you land in Fort Collins then? So you met him in Lexington or He was here in Fort Collins and No. He was

Hope:

in South Dakota. You're from North Dakota. Oh, South Dakota. Yeah. South Dakota. Interesting. Yeah, quite Sioux Falls, I guess maybe. Um, he was in Brookings, sdsu. They have technology in Brookings. They have technology transfer there. Yeah, he was the executive director of that office. Cool. Yeah, actually have a

Curt:

great university

Hope:

there. Yeah, they do. Yeah. So no, we met and I actually, there was a brief little period where I moved to South Dakota Oh really? To like really see like, what's this going about? Oh, that was Brookings. Um, you know what? We made some really good friends there. So my memories are of those friendships that we still keep in touch with today. Yeah. You know, it's a small town. It's weird when people are like, oh, there's that guy with that woman and this is what they're buying at the grocery store. And it's like, who cares? who cares What food or why are they watching us'? Yeah. I mean it was very strange. you know, so, uh, we, we, we joke about that, but um, we had a positive time and that's when I learned the lesson. There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

Curt:

That's true statement, true statement. So, um, Fort Collins.

Hope:

Right. So, um, then basically what happened is he got recruited, uh, for a job here. Oh, okay.

Curt:

And we came, I just, you just landed kind of site unseen. And you were still working for Lexington and, or for, for the

Hope:

same company. I still, yeah. Cuz I could just work from anywhere And, um, what's really fun is, so we were actually married here in Fort Collins. Okay. Yeah. So we really, really started our life together here. That's really

Curt:

cool. Mm-hmm. That's really cool. Well, and I, I think I'm seeing some serendipity now you're in Fort Collins that your, your owner of your company that you're with is like, you know, Fort Collins actually has some tech, Colorado has some tech stuff going on. Maybe we do need a field office to get into that Intermountain region a little bit more. And the Denver airport and community in Boulder is right there and stuff. So I can see how that was. A win-win, win, win. Mm-hmm. for everybody involved there. Mm-hmm. it was great. What were like, take me, what, when is this? Is this 2005 or something

Hope:

like that? Yeah, so this would've been 2012.

Curt:

12, okay. So we're getting pretty close to the, the modern times. A few more years

Hope:

then. So what I, I feel like we came here in, in 2010, maybe 2011, 2011 I think is when we actually landed. Yeah,

Curt:

something like that doesn't really matter.

Hope:

Nobody's gonna research. No, no one's gonna look it up. When did they start? Yeah. Yes.

Curt:

Excuse me. So, um, did you stay with that firm for a while then? I stayed with with

Hope:

them for a while and then I think what happened is, so it was sort of funny. So you had a

Curt:

baby part-time for a while and stuff.

Hope:

With that, Phil, I mean, it was one of those things with the Phil, you know, what blessing and occur. So I did not have to do all the, the, the stuff that business owners just getting started. Have to do, but I had to look around for space. That's where someone told me again, the network. Yeah. Someone told me about space in Cafe Vino and it was like a great, great little place to work. There's all kinds of businesses on those. Mm-hmm. second and third floors. Um, but you know, all the getting the office equipment, is it new? Is it used? All the things. Right. So I learned a lot. Um, but then, yeah, what happened is right before my son, who's now nine came, I actually, there was a high demand for in-person training again, and I don't really remember what was happening, but people were like, no, we went on site and we went like two days, you know, like two days, full, two days of software training. I mean, this is hard on

Curt:

people. It's three days or three and a half days

Hope:

for me. Right. It's like you might wanna break it up cuz people at a certain point they just can't take in more, especially if they're brand new users to the system. Mm-hmm. Um, so. The travel really picked up, and I will never forget it because I was actually pregnant and not telling anyone. And I, I was not feeling well on a regular basis. Yeah. But I didn't want anybody to know what was going on. And I was constantly on planes and, you know, and I was just

Curt:

like, kicking into an airplane toilet sounds like a me thing, frankly.

Hope:

right. And so that was probably sort of the first of like, um, I don't, I don't, there was one time where I traveled nine weeks out of 11 and that was so unusual. That was not the norm. But I also had new team members that I was training to be trainers and I wanted them to go meet the clients because we had a lot of long term stuff. It just warm handoffs and stuff. Yeah. Right. And so I knew it was temporary and so that was fine. And um, but that's where I think I also, you know, the thing about being a business owner, you know, this, you, you can easily work all the time. There's always something hundred percent. It's like, do you ever turn it off? It's more of like a gift of when you're not working and finding those things that really can pull you out and really, you know, get into nature or do something that's like so immersive and, um, Having a child was a real game changer because, you know, he would go to daycare mm-hmm. and the day closes, you know, so it's like you gotta, but it's also not just like that. It's like you wanna see your child. Right.

Curt:

You know, I don't wanna go two days

Hope:

without seeing my good child. Your motivat motivat, your priorities change. Yeah. And so, um, and then we were growing more in South America and I remember there were some things that, you know, the, the CEO was feeling like there were some relationships being established that he didn't even really know the people because they were people that I had put in place down there to try to grow that market. Mm-hmm. And he had kinda said, I don't wanna get that big. And I just thought, Hmm. Okay. Well, I mean, that's part of what I like to help grow things. So maybe I've done what I can do here. Yeah. I was with them for seven years. Yeah. Yeah.

Curt:

So I think that's reasonable. Yeah. And we're back. Yes. So when we left off, you had just kind of made the decision to leave this software company that you've been with for seven years. Fractional owner. Mm-hmm. Um, tell me about that journey and did they like buy you out then? Did you Couldn't stay an owner after

Hope:

that? Yes. Cause I, I, they were still in business.

Curt:

Yeah. Yes. And so what's next?

Hope:

So I joined a startup. Okay. And, um, that

Curt:

was intentionally, or did you get passionate about this startup and that was part of your motivation for leaving or you left A little? Both.

Hope:

A little. Both. Um, you know, it was sort of one of those like, I'm ready to do something new. I wanted to do something more local. And, um, the startup was focused around, CEO development. Okay. And just helping CEOs kind of create a process for strengthening their companies. And I've always loved that sort of personal professional development piece. It was called CEO Support System and actually a local, uh, a local angel was the one who was. Starting that. I, I have to be honest, I don't think anything is happening with it. But he based it off of years of consulting that he did in another state. Yeah. And said, I wanna build this system. He had a book called Blue Blueprint for a healthy organization.

Curt:

Can, is this somebody you can talk about?

Hope:

Um, or is it kind of so, yeah. Well here, here's the thing. I literally just don't know if he's doing anything with it. I Fair

Curt:

enough. What, what happened

Hope:

from it? Yeah. And so, and there were a couple other people in the community that I'm, that I met and are still involved in our entrepreneurial community. So there were like four of us. Okay. Working with him, trying to help him develop a model of how to scale it. And is

Curt:

it similar kind of to like what local think Tank does with peer advisory with other CEOs and, yes. And that kind of thing? Yes. Okay. And

Hope:

I mean, there was nothing active going on with his business at all, right? Yeah. Yeah. Somewhat similar. I. Oh, no. I'm sure there's differences too. Um, so because he said that the, the benefit he noticed after he had done years of consulting in another state with business owners was what they valued the most was connecting with other business owners. Yeah. they said down the road it was really, it was being the facilitator, but there was also this guide, this blueprint that he had developed of Hmm. Things that you, you look at within your business to help grow it or whether you're looking for succession planning or, you know, things like that. Yeah. Interesting. So, You know, there was that piece of working with entrepreneurs, small business owners. There was the piece to learn. Yeah. And, um, because I go and what did

Curt:

you do? Were you helping to create this platform, this format? Both reaching new clients and all that, or so like a

Hope:

typical startup? Every, everything, everything. So there was a little bit of the, you know, what's our mar, what's our market like? What's our brand value

Curt:

proposition? Our target

Hope:

customers, a little bit of business development, but then also that train, you know, that teacher turn, trainer turn, like always that teaching opportunity. Mm-hmm. So I would've been one of the trainers. Yep. Yep. There, but a little bit of business development. So it was just sort of a mix, but here's what happened. In a very brief time, I realized I didn't wanna work for anybody else. like literally within three months. Interesting. And, um, I just kind of said, I'm outta here. I wanna do my own thing. Right.

Curt:

And there, there, well it seemed like an awkward thing, like such a pure startup. Most of the time you've gotta kind of get the machine off the ground for a little while and have something built before you hire a helper to, it almost seemed like they were trying to outsource the job of creating this thing to their first employee. Yeah, it

Hope:

was, I think too, with the other, um, people that were kind of, you know, we were all, there were like three of us that were gonna be trainers, but we also had other roles in the company. We were kind of comparing notes and then we would be asked for feedback. But here's the, the truth of it was that our feedback was not actually taken in stride. Even if it was literally a presentation of for like a cells or like Yeah, yeah, yeah. None of our feedback. And then we'd be back and then we're like, wait a minute, why are we even spend, why is think I could sell this cause, right. Yeah. And then there was a lot of, um, like, honestly like, you know how quickly things change, like a lot of dated. Images and things. We were just like, that, that looks like it was from three decades ago. Like, we have to change the look of that, you know? So, um, when I realized like, oh no, they don't really want input and how, you know, how influential would all of us really be on this startup? Yeah. Yeah. I just said, no, I'm gonna work for myself. And, and something I didn't mention, and I, I'm sorry to, to, um, go back, but I actually founded a company when I was much younger with three other co-founders, a theater company. Oh, really? Okay. And so it's not like I had never tried to do anything before. Yeah. But you, I mean, you have a background in theater as well. And so we were, what we had was passion and experience and, and no money. We had no, we had no business acumen whatsoever. And, um, we knew how to do all the stuff. We knew how to, to, uh, conduct auditions, cast apart, direct. We all, we all were either directors or like we. We put up three productions. Okay. And, and we were really scrappy and we knew how to, you know, get our props and all this stuff, grill marketing and all that. We sold, we actually sold tickets. We broke even. Okay. So we thought that's pretty good, but we just didn't have that. It was more like the passion for the art, you know? It, it wasn't about like, Building a new permanent theater in our town. And we already had, where I'm from, we already had three, three to four working theaters at the time at an opera house. So, you know, it was, we just didn't know what we were doing. And so we, we stopped Fair enough. Um, so anyways, yeah. I was like, I just wanna work for myself. And actually what happened is, uh, my husband and I opened our own business together. Oh. And we opened a consulting company that specialized in technology transfer and commercialization. Okay. And helping people, a lot of new offices. So we had that network. So

Curt:

you basically became a consultancy in that, that niche area of expertise.

Hope:

Yeah. I suppose we really focused on kind of two components operations. So I took, sort of took the lead on operations. Literally like standard operating procedure. How to deliver the goods. Yeah. People are like, what We've been told, we have to do this technology transfer thing in our university. We have no idea what we're doing. or there, there one, one of our clients had a box of patents, and said, we don't know what to do with this. And we were like, okay, can we turn this into money somehow? right? I mean they just, they didn't know about like, are we supposed to be like doing outreach to research? Like what? Like they, like literally helping people figure it out. Yeah. And then also because of all those agreements that you see, um, in Denny's role because he was an executive director, like he would usually have the signature, you know, authority where you're working with major corporations, attorneys and helping people understand like the licensing terms and what would be really good for your institution. Making sure the institution gets money back, making sure the researcher gets some money back, you know. Um,

Curt:

and well, and technology wars are crazy these days. Like Apple and, and Samsung are like suing the crap out of each other at every little turn. If they can find a nick or a crease in the intellectual property protection and it's just,

Hope:

it's a mess. It is a mess. And, yeah. Yes, it's a. Yeah, it really

Curt:

is a game. Like, it's almost like they set traps for each other sometimes and stuff like that. Oh, gotcha. Those, those big companies.

Hope:

Yeah. So, um, not that big a scale. You didn't see that so much, but Sure. But still, um, so, but

Curt:

we just knew that. But I mean, evidence is the need for your services. Mm-hmm. right? To be able to understand what the tech that's being transferred, what's the agreement is.

Hope:

Yeah. Like how, how does this work? And even how do you build those relations? You know, when people go to a university, they're motivated to do very certain things. You know, they love to lecture, do they love to research? Do they wanna publish? Do they, you know, what's motivating them? They don't typically go saying, I wanna license my intellectual property to a big corporation. Like, that's not on their mind. Right. Or I think I wanna start a company in addition to all the research or the things I'm teaching. So there's a big learning curve, but also establishing relationships in the community. Yeah. So, um, between the two of us, you know, I had worked, when I was at University of Washington, UDub, it was one of the largest tech transfer offices in the country. Kinda a flagship whole. Yeah, right. Huge. So between working for one of the largest offices where you could see like dedicated people to all these pieces and parts to working for a software company that worked with the small teams, three people. Mm-hmm. all over the world. Things that were the same, things that were different people doing innovative things. We had a lot of. Insight and experience to offer people and could break it down into

Curt:

workable chunks and how to be a scrappy, you know, if you only have budget for a team of two, okay, what can I we actually achieve? That's right. You'd love to have this team of 50, but we we're not there yet. Yes,

Hope:

interesting. And Kurt, that was I look back at this, I laugh. I actually thought at that point when we started our own company this, I was like, I've. This is it. I have a business, I have my own business, and I'm a consultant. This is the life I'm a consultant that I was like, I've reached. That's the pinnacle. Like, that's, that's it. This is,

Curt:

that's cool. You know? And you got two littles at home at this point in time? Just one. Just one. Just one? Yes. You have a second or you just have one? Just one. I'm sorry. I've

Hope:

misunderstood. No, that's okay. So you know, it, um, it's funny, looking back at like, in my mind, like becoming a consultant was like, you've made it, like you've figured it out. You're working for yourself, you set your own schedule. And, um, it was just, I mean, I don't know. I'm like, okay, well that was so naive. And for some people, there's a lot of people that are consultants and they love their life and they're making a good business. Sure. But you know, it was one of those things where it still involves the sales, the business development. Um, how longs the, you don't want people totally dependent, you're, you're trying to empower people. Right? Right, right. So at some point they're not gonna be

Curt:

project very specific timeline. You wanna be in and out of there in six months or

Hope:

something. So even if you have, uh, several clients that are paying you well, and it's somewhat long term, they're gonna end. So you, you always have to keep your pipeline going and, um, you know, My husband and I, we of course, like everyone, we have strengths and weaknesses and they tend to compliment even when we've taken, you know, whether they're entrepreneurial skills tests or personality tests. Like some of our things are opposite, but it creates a balance. Mm-hmm. and we can recognize that and we can also, we kind of know each other's edges and also where each other's shines. Um, but we just, as we were kinda getting into the throngs of it, after a year, we were sort of like, this isn't quite, what do

Curt:

we really wanna be consultants? Right. Well, you know, I think about the, the local facilitators and, you know, several of them in the community now. And that's kind of, and to some extent the offering. Like you've had a business journey and maybe even some topical expertise that you could be a consultant if you want. but probably you don't wanna be a consultant and here's an opportunity to be a facilitator instead. And, you know, spend 10 hours a month. No travel impact people's lives and businesses.

Hope:

It's a beautiful model,

Curt:

because you don't have to be a consultant, you know, in some respect, but to still have some impact, you know? Yeah. You don't have to go to cocktail parties and look for new clients and be on LinkedIn all the time saying about how smart you are. Right. Anyway. I

Hope:

mean, no, it's, you know, this is, um, and there were good things about it. I mean, because we had this network, so we were of course, our clients, most of our clients were people that we knew, but we did get some new clients because there was just that trust, you know, they, they all know one another. Were like, what do you think? Credibility in the industry, right? And so we did have an international client. So one of our, our key clients was the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology known. Okay. They're an international, um, group. And what's the, the one requirement for anybody that goes there teaching or student is you have to speak English. So they truly had an international base. Okay. Yeah. Neat. And so they hired us to come over every year and we would conduct some workshops, and then we would, we would conduct workshops with their researchers, but then we would work with their, their office and the operations. And it was actually really, I mean, wonderful, but still you're, you're traveling. And again, we had a small child, right? You all this stuff. So, um, but that was a great experience. I don't regret it. And that company was actually acquired and that was not our original plan. Mm. We, we actually thought we were gonna do this consulting and we were actually in the back end, like our business plan was that we were gonna do fractional executive management. Hmm. And I was gonna focus on ops and we were gonna continue, you know, so we were

Curt:

gonna try to like team, cause there isn't that much operationally to do, but it's gotta get done. Mm-hmm. and the scientist and vet guy might not do it. Right.

Hope:

Yeah. Interesting. So we had this big model and we had had like this phase, like in five years, this is where we wanna be in 10 years, this is where we wanna be. And eventually we even wanted to like invest in high tech startup coming, I mean, you know, we had this big

Curt:

plan Yeah. I feel you. Right. Well, you know, I had Bear Capital Advisors, that local think tank actually began as a DBA of Oh, okay. And it was gonna have, um, you know, first I offered to help businesses. Money, like find the right banker and I'll help you put your cash flow plan together and you've been rejected. But it's cuz you don't know the right banker and you're not going by it, the right approach. Oh, nice. Okay. Um, so that was the initial service, but I imagine, you know, having administrative support or bookkeeping things we could make investments into, it's always a bigger vision than we can pull off in a short period of time anyway. Right. Totally. So that's you, you're granted a pass for that. Yeah. But somebody wanted to buy then your, your organization. Yeah. And

Hope:

so there were, you know, it's kinda interesting cause people wanted to say, what's that about? One, because it's such a niche market and so there was just a lot of know-how that we, we really understood how all these different groups worked. Yeah. We'd seen a lot of different variations of the operations, but we also did have quite an expansive network. Mm-hmm. So part of what they were acquiring was our network. Right.

Curt:

And even just the ability to. you know, founded by Danny Hope or whatever, like, it gives credibility to some player in the industry that maybe doesn't have quite the established network, but does have some skills mm-hmm. that they can bring mm-hmm. So, yeah.

Hope:

Yeah. So when, after we were, and so that was interesting. That's a whole, I mean, you know, its one of, I, I realize this with business, like sometimes when you do something, you do it once and then for like, oh, you've got so much experience. Like even when you start a business and you register and you get your license and you file, you only do it once and you kind of forget that you did it. Right. Right. And you're like, oh, yeah, yeah. We, we did those things. So yeah, we were acquired. But I mean, the truth of the matter is, um, it's stressful when you're coming. It gets acquired because suddenly you have legal team, you have your legal team, you have they're company's legal team. They're looking at all your stuff. Now we keep good books and we had an accountant. Yeah. And I was actually the only one on our team allowed to even edit anything QuickBooks, Right. And it was complicated because we all, because of the Japanese client, we had money coming in. We had Yen and US dollars. Mm-hmm. So, um, But, but I mean, now

Curt:

is, is Denny Japanese, is that his cultural heritage as well? Yes. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Um, that's what I imagine, especially, but I didn't know for sure.

Hope:

Yes. No, I appreciate you asking. You never know. It's good not to assume things. So, um, that was one of those where we weren't uncomfortable with people looking at all of our stuff. We were organized, we kept good books. Everything was above board. But it's just when you have a lot of legalese and, and we, because of our background and working with attorneys, we weren't intimidated or scared, but it's just, it gets intense, right? Because then you're like, you're so close and then, and then you, you're like, okay,

Curt:

we're not gonna do this away. Break up time. Or you might choose to like,

Hope:

you know, we kind seem like the relief. Like, okay, yeah, we thought this was a, this is an please don't let anything happen. And I remember we were literally in Estes Park celebrating our anniversary and all day we were looking at all this like legal stuff, signing things. And then the celebration would be like, at night, let's go have dinner. We were we would, we would go up for restaurant week where they test out all the winter menus, right? And so everything's very affordable, And we'd go and there's not a lot of people, so we'd go and eat good food. Ideal. But you know, it was like this thing where it's like, it's not really a vacation because we're like doing all this work, but then that would be the end of it. But it was stressful. And then, and then it was over and we required, and that honestly it allowed us to play for a little bit. Mm-hmm.

Curt:

um, and then Girls Gone. No Girls Spotlight thing, not girls. Yeah. Totally different. Uh, premise there. Girls In the Spotlight. Was your organization that you founded after, after some time of rest?

Hope:

I gathered, yeah. A couple little iterations. So I ended up becoming the executive director of Biz Girls, which was a spin out from the Rocky's Venture Club. Okay. To help young girls, uh, create their own business. Yeah, yeah. And, um, we did a great program here in Fort Collins. I remember at the time the mayor came, we did a little pitch at the Galvanize. Oh, sure. Yeah. So, I did a little volunteer work, wanted to turn that into a job, but realized like there wasn't the funding to do that, but again, allowed me to, I think, have a positive impact. In fact, one of our graduates works at the Chamber now. Oh, cool. that's great. Um, so it's really interesting. And, um, and then I actually went to work for another

Curt:

local school. It's not Taylor, is it? It is. Oh, she's a, she's pretty a bright young lady. She's gonna be a capable person in the community for a long time.

Hope:

She, I don't know if she listens to your podcast, but I remember her business idea. It was called Taylor Taylor's Teabags, and they were ba like shoulder bags made outta t-shirts. Oh.

Curt:

That's pretty cool. Very

Hope:

expandable. It's plenty of those. Yeah. You know, anyways. Yep. So that's been a fun thing to, like, there's been a lot of, um, reconnecting coming into this role. Like people I met years ago, sometimes eight years ago, seven years ago. That's cool. And then because they're, you know, part of the entrepreneurial small business community, it's like, oh my gosh, I haven't seen you in years. That's cool. So that was really fun to see her down at the chamber. Anyways, so yeah. Did that and then realized like, oh, you know what? I still need to work. I'm not, you know, I'm not, I don't wanna retire. And, um, there's still bills to pay, so I need to find a job. And I went to work for, uh, another local software company for a little while. Um, and so I kind of, I stopped volunteering for Biz Girls and then again working for another company and just said, I don't wanna do this anymore. I did for two years. And so, um, that's what led into starting Girls in the Spotlight. But I will tell you, there was kind of. Cata, there was an event that was sort of a catalyst for that. And I, I don't talk about this a whole lot, but I was actually in a car accident when I was working for this software company. And, um, so it was on I 25 and it was during the winter, and so I, my car was totaled and I had to go to the er. Wow. And my son, my very young son at the time was in the backseat and he's completely fine. But it was, it was clearly unexpected. And yeah, I don't really talk about it a whole lot emotionally, kind of traumatizing. Yeah. It was traumatic. And so, um, what was really interesting when I was in the ER during that, I kept, I, it, it's really weird how there's moments in life that make you really reflect, like. What am I doing? Yeah. And why am I doing it? And it was like a hundred percent clear that I did not wanna be working for the company that I was at. And there was a lot of different reasons for it. And I'm not naming them. I people listen to your podcast, might know where I worked or you couldn't look it up on LinkedIn. But anyways, um, I knew that I did not wanna keep working there, but I couldn't just quit my job. Right. And so I, it was literally then I was like, screw this. I am gonna do my own thing. I'm gonna plan it. I'm not gonna be reckless. But I literally saved up a year's worth of living expenses for my entire family. Wow. That's what I needed to take the leap to say, wow, I'm done.

Curt:

I think that's a great responsible action though, right? Like you made an emotional decision at a time. You didn't just jump off a cliff. Yeah. You know, you planned for it. Right. And, and saved to be able to prepare to not have to mm-hmm. create a lot of income for a while.

Hope:

And that was one of those things where, you know, it's like all these different, um, people that come through the spdc and sometimes I look at, I'm like, oh, you're so brave. Or You're so, but there's a, there's a planner in Me too. Yeah. Or for me, and I, I'd had these other experiences with the theater thing with, you know, the consulting company that I said, I wanna do like a heart project. And I know I'm not gonna make a lot of money at first, but I would like to make money and I would like to pay other people. And I'm, I know I'm not gonna be able to be paid for the first year. Yeah. And I'm starting a nonprofit. Right, right. And so there's no ROI for investors And so it was a very different motivation. So I needed that safety net to say, this is what I can do to commit a hundred percent. And, and see. And then by year two, I had 12 interns. I had one and a half, um, employees. I had 3, 10 90 nines. I had Wow, you grew it pretty

Curt:

fast. I grew it very fast. It was a distributed program to, to tell me what the premise was

Hope:

and what were you doing? Yeah. Girls in the spotlight. So our tag is helping girls find their voice and it's really about developing communication and leadership, um, skills in girls, but part of it is building confidence. And so I use creative techniques. The, I designed a three year curriculum. Oh, wow. And so, The model, the business model, uh, is all about afterschool enrichment programs. Oh, so pre covid? Yeah. Yeah. It was exploding in our local school district. So I went from piloting it at one school to doing a series of summer programs that I did at Compass Community Collaborative School. Yep. Yep. Love that place to being asked to be at 11 schools the following fall. Wow. This was all in the first year, but it was just me. Right. And so I, it was hard for me to say no. Cause I was like, I'm meeting a need. Right. You want this. They see like helping girls build confidence so they can continue to pursue the things they're interested in. Right. And we all need help with communication. Um, So I recruited my first like four volunteers and it was just like people I didn't even know, but they liked the mission and, um, really standardizing cuz I'm, I'm someone too who I can in the moment be like, oh, the girls don't seem interested in this, let's try another thing. Or if they're really loving it, let's do it more. But when you're trying to train people, they need their toolkit, right? Yep. So that helped me start building that infrastructure. And then I was approached by some departments at CSU because these volunteers were CSU students, with the exception of one that said, our students need internships, they need it for credit to graduate. Right. And so I actually have agreements with some of the departments at CSU that, um, when, yeah. So then that fall, the next, so after first year of completion, um, that following the next year, I had 12 interns from csu. Dang. Yeah. And it

Curt:

was really amazing. And those guys poised to, to stretch and grow to scale mm-hmm. Now, how do I ask this question? Right? But you're, you're. Passion for helping those girls become leaders and really to find their voice. Kind of that thing that happened to you in theater, I guess is really where this takes back to because, uh, how do I, like it doesn't, it seemed like doors opened fairly easily for you along your career path. You know, you were offered to be an owner before the normal time and different things like that and maybe there's, there's issues, but was it, was it because of your own journey that young or was it because of barriers you felt you hit because you were a woman in tech or some combination of

Hope:

those things? Like why did I start all that with the girls? Yeah, kinda. Yeah. So yeah. Yeah. It's a combination. So one was when I was in the software world and when I was given opportunities to, um, advance my role in all this, I was going to conferences nationally and internationally and there were many times, and it was bro parties.

Curt:

Yes. sorry. As sausage party was one of our menu items when I had the food trailer

Hope:

But you know, it was, it was sort of shocking because, um, I know a lot of intelligent people, it doesn't even matter. Gender, race, it

Curt:

doesn't matter if I go to a dentist, confession, there's gonna be some ladies and some men. Right. But

Hope:

here's, yeah. And so I was kind of surprised to, to see the lack. I remember even going to Canada and I thought, oh my gosh, the Canadians are so friendly. I love these people. And one time looking around this big, um, conference hall, we're all sitting at tables and there were like eight women in the room, out of 500 or something. And I was like, I was like, what is wrong? So there was always this, it's not about, um, I, I just wanna make this clear. This is not about women dominating, it's about all of us being around the table together. Yeah. And so what, what I really discovered is, Just like any human, but women may have as many qualifications, education, whatever, as a male counterpart, but where they lack is confidence. And this was also something when I did work with Rocky's Venture Club, that they noticed that with founding companies and some of the companies, they seemed like that was what was holding women back. But they were also finding the companies that performed better had a good balance on the management teams. Nice, nice. And there's some statistics, I can't name them, but I could look them up and say, yes, people are investing more, they're higher performing when there's a balance. Right? And so, um, that was really something that I just kind of noticed and, and I realized, um, we have to start earlier. I mean, I believe people can change if they wanna change, if they recognize I need to change and they're willing to do the work. But if we could plant seeds younger. Totally. And so that's really what I, I said, let's go back and start building confidence. Where does that, and, and that's kind of the background, the theater, the communication, and it's always getting up, showing up, speaking up. Right. Standing up. And, but we do it in really fun, creative ways. Yeah. Yeah. And so the girls, everything that they do, they write it. I don't say, here, you read this, here's your script. I, it comes from

Curt:

them. Um, the, the Rotary Club I'm in, uh, well Rotary all over have a Rotary youth leadership program, Ry, and they do a camp up in Estes Park every year and stuff. Nice. It's not a sustainable place for this program, but gosh, it sure seems like girls in the spotlight. Could be a tremendous value add, uh, all over the place.

Hope:

Thank you. There's a, there was a lot of coaches that I've worked with over the last few years. Some very dedicated people, and some, some of my coaches have, they've since graduated. Some were back in grad school and they're like, I'm a lifer. And I'm like, I think I need to go back to them and say, Hmm, do you, do you wanna, do you wanna create a job for yourself here, right. Because I would really love to see it grow. The vision was always big. Yeah. To expand it across Colorado and then outside of Colorado, but there needs to be a driver, you know? And I, I made a purposeful decision when Covid hit it really, um, it, it damaged our business model. Took any

Curt:

chance for the in-person stuff away for at least a season. Right. Yeah.

Hope:

So we took it online for a while and then people were burnt, burnt out with all of that. Right. Right. Um,

Curt:

so, and then somebody said, Hey, have you seen this ad in LinkedIn for

Hope:

the and, and I said, I need to join a team. I need to find a place to land. I need to join a team. It's been

Curt:

great, but I'm a lonely. Um, was that pretty hard for you, like the Covid season itself, because you'd been so out and in and active and then all of a sudden, except for

Hope:

Zoom, you were okay. There were moments. So when Covid first hit, I think honestly everybody was in shock and all the, all the, um, students, I was wor all the interns were like, what's happening? And most of them were graduating. That was that first group that graduated online or whatever it is they did. Um, and so I think honestly there was sort of this, um, there was this glue bringing us back together because we create community within the organization. And so it was like when there was a lot of unknowns, uncertainty, um, isolation. We had a reason to come together. And I was like, we have to show up for each other. And for the girls and for the parent now for the parents. Cuz everybody's like, what's going on? Our kids are home. There's no school, there's no, so, um, at the beginning I had said, well, historically I used to work with a lot of people online and they were adults, but I know that we can do this. And some of the coaches told me afterwards that they were so like in the background, like, this is never gonna work. Right? But, but it did cuz we were bringing people together. We had a structure, we had an outlet, it gave us something to stay connected. Um, and then we did some summer programs, but then it's like people got really burned out with online. And then so we started seeing. You know, and it wasn't designed to be delivered online. Yeah. But there were still things we could do, and that's when it got harder when I was like, I, I'm not gonna recruit interns because I don't know, kids aren't even back in school yet. Yeah.

Curt:

And either I have to blow this thing up to make it sustainable, or I've gotta figure out something. So if you are interested in, in Fostering Girls in the Spotlight as the new, uh, person that wants to, to blow that back up again, uh, call Hope, still talk to you. Thanks for that. I know there's somebody out there that would love to take this because it's an innovative model. Maybe even, it sounds kind of funny, but, uh, the School of Rock has a very similar program in some of their approaches. Maybe there's. Somebody from that realm that they're

Hope:

of our partner, we were actually gonna do. So we have a music, uh, okay. One of our summer programs. So, um, Bohemian has given us grants and we, the girls would write songs as a way of finding their voice. And School of Rock was one of our partners as well. And, and it was one of those where Covid was happening and it was, we just couldn't get the enrollment up. People were scared. Yeah. There was a lot of fear and so, um, but they're wonderful. I love School of Rock. That's super cool.

Curt:

Yeah. cool. So I'm going to try to get you outta here on time. And so, to do so first you have to run the gauntlet of the Untouchable Questions. Okay. Uh, faith, family, politics, and you can address them in the order that you choose. I know as a, as an S Spdc person, Either have to give a, a disclaimer or you have to kind of be sensitive to that. So you, it's your

Hope:

choice. Yeah. These are really like, wow, you're going right, right to it. So I'll, well, I'll address the politics thing, uh, for, and that is true, uh, working for spdc. We are not publicly supposed to take any position on any political thing whatsoever. But what's interesting is I'm a little embarrassed, I don't know why to admit this on online, but, uh, I'm not a real political person and I never have been. Yeah. I, I don't, extreme things unnerve me, I, I like the middle way fair, you know? And so I. I like to stay informed. I like to observe and I like to listen and then form an opinion and do the research when I need, you know, so, um, I try to

Curt:

just stay in. It's a very private process for you, it sounds like A little bit, yes. We didn't, uh, it doesn't appear. We've had a red wave last night. We're just, we're sitting here the day after the election. Yeah. Yeah. Seems to be pretty, pretty horse racist so far. It's really

Hope:

interesting. And if people get really, and I think that's the thing, I, I think part of why I've never been real political and vocal about any political opinion or whatnot is it, it can be real divisive and I so much like to bring people together. Yeah. And so I just, Like again, when things go that way, lots of times I'll listen and then if people want my opinion on a topic, yeah, I'll give it. And I might not even associate it with any particular candidate, but it's just like, this is my personal thought on that. Yeah,

Curt:

fair enough. Yeah. Do you care to express any of those personal thoughts on that or is it just as soon leave it here and We'll, somebody can have coffee with you if we don't hear that stuff. Yeah, I think we'll just leave it here. um, family or faith would you prefer to

Hope:

chat on? Yeah, I'll talk about family next. And so really, I, you can't see this, but I, I wear these little bracelets and one of these is, you know, it's kind of funny cuz they're, the audience can't see this, but it's a little bracelet with wooden beads and then there's these plastic letter squares and the word is family. Oh. And that's because that's my number one value. And so, um, I think there was a time when I was going, you know, going from this company to the startup company to the, I don't wanna work at this company anymore. And it's like, what are your values? And I realized what happened is my values had gotten outta whack and um, just. It's like, family is my number one value, and if I'm sacrificing that for a job when none of the owners are or anything, why am I doing this right? And what? Right. So, um, and then I, I just feel also like I, I'm lucky and fortunate that my parents have just been supportive my whole life, you know, and it, I think that that's allowed me to explore those doors that have opened. It's a, a, you know, they have just always been like an empowered place kind of. Yeah. Yeah. There's always an open door here to land in case you fall and you need to pick yourself back up.

Curt:

You. I don't know how to say it politely, so I'll just say it rudely. You were an older than average mom when you had your son. How old were you? Or you don't have to answer that question, but you definitely were funny.

Hope:

I was 42. Oh, wow. Yes. Congratulations. Yeah, thank you. I am an older mom, and so, um, I think that's the other thing, like it was a real deliberate choice to start a family because I felt like I had experienced a lot and, and I wasn't, there would've been very little time before that I actually thought I was ready because I really consider a responsibility. Yeah. And I, I didn't wanna be worried like, what's my career? What's my financial situation? What all that uncertainty and instability? I, I just,

Curt:

well, it. Previous to Denny, you had a, at least a somewhat tumultuous long-term relationship that maybe you didn't want to start a family with at times

Hope:

or Well, and it was one of those where I made more money than that partner and at the time it wasn't a ton and he liked to spend a lot of money you know, have a child. Right, right.

Curt:

Fair enough. Um, what's your boy's name? Denon.

Hope:

Denon. D E N

Curt:

S H I n. Oh, that's pretty cool. And um, I don't know if you've listened to some of our episodes, but we do ask for a one word description of your child, if you're willing. Sure. Makes it very hard cuz it's just one creative, creative. Mm-hmm. I think Denon. And he's nine now. Is that what you said? Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Okay. And um, when we're talking about Denny, what, uh, what was it outside of nerding, out over tech transfer like experience? There must have been some other things. Cut your Oh, my vibe with him and vice

Hope:

versa. I don't know if he listens to, he's gonna be like, do not talk about me on air. I, I can, whatever. Denny, suck it up. He's very private person. You'll be fine. No, I think, you know, just at the time, because we did meet later in life and it was one of those, well, I'll, I'll share this. And I know you asked about like, what about Denny? But, um, I think, um, because we met later, there was not a lot of BS in our dating phase. Right. And we didn't live in the same town, so I couldn't observe, I couldn't ask people like, so what do you think about Denny? You know, or like even observe him from afar. It was like, we'd be at a professional conference and then we started talking on the phone, but I'm not observing. Right. I talked about like, I observe, I listen, right? Yeah. And so, um, I remember a very early conversation. I said, um, I need to ask you some questions. And he was like, sure. And I said, I have a list of. Like, I was literally like,

Curt:

these are like, number three is are you willing to have a baby? Cuz I've been thinking about that

Hope:

But it was, it was almost like, depending on how you answer this, could determine whether we ever go out again. Right, right. You know, and it was literally like things like, have you ever been arrested? You know, I mean, I was just like,

Curt:

I, and would that have been a, a null fire or that was, it would've been like, what, what was the circumstances? What Right, right. I just kinda wanna know more about do you have children in other states? Right,

Hope:

right. Whatever, you know, it's like, I just wanted to like, just get to some very, I don't know, to me straightforward things like you have or you haven't, what was going on? And um, he was, I remember him laughing at some of the questions or like, oh, okay. Um, so, you know, and, and I can't even remember. I wonder if I have that list somewhere. But, um, I just, I thought he had integrity. I thought he was intelligent. You know, it wasn't just that we could talk shop and we knew about the industry and it is a niche industry, but. Yeah. I mean, he he is also one of the best, this has nothing to do with the relationship really, but he is one of the best negotiators I've ever encountered. And I, I really respect that, like on a professional level and I need to respect someone that I'm closely involved with. Yeah. Yeah. But also he's very social and that was really, you know, there's times where I'm like, are you reading the cues? Like, I think it's time to like wrap this up. It's time to go. And he's, and I love seeing that. I love that he appreciates relationships because on those, those tests and those personality things, relationships always come in LA and I, I mean, he'll be like, stop talking. Interesting. Um, but we joke and then he'll go, well sing hi. I don't care about relationships at all. You know, we laugh about it because it's so down on the list of the things. Well, for me it's always like number one. Yeah. Yeah. It's up

Curt:

at the top. Well, I think what I'm hearing at least a little bit is that you feel really comfortable with him as someone that you can contend with. Mm-hmm. like, you can make each other better, smarter, happier. Absolutely. Um, through the involvement of yourself with the other Yes. What was it, uh, your direct approach, is that what attracted him to you? I'm just kidding.

Well,

Hope:

you know what, actually it, it, it, when part of that is true, we were, um, holding a user group meeting with the software company and he had decided, he had sent his colleague, but he decided to stop in. And the um, chief, um, technical officer had gone before me to talk about new features and went on and on and on, and I'm just like, we are way off the agenda. This is like, you are completely. In the zone. Yeah. And look, read the room. Right, dude. And I didn't have the, I was trying to keep us on time and I said, well, everyone, uh, I had planned on 20 minutes, but I'm gonna deliver this in two minutes and see if you have any questions. And so I was just like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. I was like, questions. And everybody literally like gave me a standing applause. Right. And he

Curt:

was like, as this last guy was like a drone on forever.

Hope:

Right. That's cool. And you know, even today, like we talk, we talk, I can go, but I'm, but there are times where it's just like less is more. Yeah. Yeah. You know, and he was. This just,

Curt:

you were so efficient, I like it. I like it. I like it. So, um, anything else on the topic of family that you'd really like to share? You've been praiseworthy of your folks and things, is there? Yeah,

Hope:

no, I, I, I do think that it, you know, what else to say about that, it, I, there are some people that have, uh, a very different background or history with their family. And so for any of those people that are listing, you know, friends are the family you choose. So it's how you create your own family and. It's important for people to have those kind of like safe spaces to go

Curt:

to and to Yeah. Whoever your family is and how they came to be. Make sure you lean on them once in a while and

Hope:

Yeah, absolutely. And so that's where I kind of, I think some of the principles, and you don't necessarily know unless you decide to have a, a child or whatnot, it's like what's really important and part of his, that my son feels loved and accepted that he can explore. Um, and that some lessons are harder learn than others, but we're not there to protect him from everything. And like those are some of the lessons that stick. Yeah. But, you know, we will support, we will try to provide guidance, but, um, so I hope that I'm creating, you know Yeah. A decent family

Curt:

Um, one more quick question. Sure. Uh, Hartman is a, a. I'm guessing maybe an English name, what it is. So Hartman is actually, what's your deeper

Hope:

family tree? Yeah, it's German. So German, okay. On my mother's side it's Irish and Scottish. So Flanigan. Oh. And then, um, Flanigan and McClean. Um, my mom's side. And then on my father's side it's all German, Hartman and beer. Okay. And so my great-grandmother used to always, It's like you pronounce it just like the thing you drink. even though it's spelled b i e r e r. Oh, okay. I

Curt:

like it. Okay. Mm-hmm. just curious. I've always liked names and wondering where those names came from and stuff like that, so yeah. Thanks for

Hope:

sharing. I think some, I mean, I don't know like genetically, but you know, there's a lot of order and, and, and German culture order of things. And so I think that's sort of that ops and, and and process. But then there is, with Irish and Scottish, there's that, um, verbal lineage. Mm-hmm. you know, where

Curt:

storytelling Yeah. World tradition and all of that for sure. And that probably the drama stuff even. And words mattering a lot. Mm-hmm. all that. Um, we have. Faith yet to talk about. We haven't talked about that at all yet. And for me, faith is whatever that is for you. Uh, frankly, I, that's why I don't use the term religion, cuz not everybody needs that. Most people don't need more of it.

Hope:

Yeah. You know, that's a, it's, I don't talk, this is another one that was like, I just never really talk about it. So, you know, it was one of those things and I'll, I'll explore a little bit with you, but. I was told a long, long time ago, don't talk about business and religion. You said, well, that's why I call it faith, right? Yeah. And I just kind of took that to heart. Politics and religion. Yeah. Yeah. Politic. What did I just say? Yeah.

Curt:

Business. Oh, I talk about business.

Hope:

No, we wanna talk about business. Yeah. Sorry. Yes. Politics and religion. And so I just kind of took that to heart and I just don't tend to engage and say things publicly. And then maybe sometimes when people really get to know me, you know? Yeah. Or they open up a topic and they wanna speak on it. But, um, I, I mean, I did grow up in a family where church was part of the fabric, but interesting enough for my mom. Every week and my dad didn't go. Mm, yeah. Yeah. And so then I got to be at a certain age where I questioned that. Like, why do we, why do we have to go? But actually dad doesn't. Right. And I didn't understand that like about third, fourth grade,

Curt:

that's actually similar to mine because my dad was starting a farm evenings and weekends when I was a kid. And so we had to go to church and then, but he didn't almost ever. Right. And uh, as soon as I turned like 12 or 13 and got the confirmation thing, I was like, I'm helping dad on Sundays now. I'm not going to church anymore.

Hope:

Right. Yeah. So kind of a similar, I went through the whole like, what is expect, you know, did choir and youth group and all this and confirmed and all this bit. But then when I moved out to go to college, I stopped going. Yeah.

Curt:

Do you like if somebody says, is there a God? Do you say Yes? For sure. I don't

Hope:

know. Sometimes it depends on who asks me and I say, what's your definition? And then I'll tell you, yeah. Is

Curt:

there something that created the universe or did it spontaneously come into being?

Hope:

Right. Well, For some of these, I think they're unanswered questions and I can't pretend that I know the answer to it. Fair. And I think when it comes to faith, so I do think it is so personal, I will share that I was a practicing Buddhist for a very long time, about 10 years or so. Like that's actually what brought me to Colorado over 30 years ago. Yeah.

Curt:

I spent a, so a summer at Redfin and being from Japan Den, he might have a similar orientation,

Hope:

or not necessarily. So a lot of um, um, Buddhism and Shintoism really throughout the, the culture, I think there's things people do and they don't even associate it with faith or religion. It's almost just like a way of, you know, you have a little shrine, you light in a piece of fruit and you. You say thank you to your ancestors or something like that. And you, and you appreciate nature, a strong connection with nature. So, um, you know, for me a lot of it, it has to

Curt:

do with do Buddhist think that there was a creation force or is it just, that isn't a question they necessarily ask? Because I think about Buddhism a little bit, the little bit I've studied that there's kind of at least a universal magnetism and you know, even the notion of karma, karma mm-hmm. and, and like this universal consciousness that if you pray to it, it does change the way things work out sometimes. Yeah. It's like, you know, and Christians would call that a God and Budds might

Hope:

not. It's like cause and effect. And um, yeah, I think when it, some of the core, regardless of faith or religion, to me part of it is about, um, compassion and, um, how. Do you less than suffering in the world for yourself and others. Yeah. Right. So whether you say do unto, unto others or you will have them do unto you or what, it doesn't really matter the terminology wrapped around it. Right. But to me it's sort of like the core of human

Curt:

Jesus. You can find it the same expression just about in, in Hinduism and different right places. Right. That same notion of of the neighbor, the other.

Hope:

Yeah. I do think for, for, um, a long time ago I took a, a class in sociology when I was doing undergraduate work. And, um, there was this topic about religion and, and faith that it, it helps people feel like there is meaning in life. So for some people, that's the purpose that it serves. There's other people that I told, they were like, well that is my community. I go for community to a gathering place. And you know, for me, anything that just helps to. open mind and dialogue. That's important to me. And so where I really kind of, you know, like disengage, I don't like to get involved is when I hear a lot of judgment. So whatever that is, whether it's a faith, a spiritual, whatever, if it starts to get very judgy and I hear like the US and them, I'm just like, not

Curt:

interested, checked out. Fair enough. You know, it's something, one thing that, uh, Lex Friedman, when he interviews people, he always talks about, um, you know, he thinks people are inherently good and they will swing to the good if given the opportunity. And then, you know, Christian doctrine kind of says, you know, people are inherently kind of bad and it's our job to kind of practice how not to be that way. Mm-hmm. And so which of those would you say is your stronger disposition?

Hope:

People are inherently good. Okay. Fair enough. Yeah. And I think, you know, and that's, people say your greatest strength is your greatest weakness. I see good in people. I focus on the good. And sometimes there is a naivety that comes with that. Fair. Right. By choice, even if you want. Right. And also I trust people. Like I come in trusting people and people are like, you gotta earn people's trust. Don't trust, you know, and I'm like, I trust people until they give me a reason not to. Yeah. Yeah. And the thing is, you probably aren't gonna get it back.

Curt:

Well, and I, I just had Richard Flin on who's the author of Testology, uh, which basically builds on the premise of trust can only be given, it can never be earned. Mm-hmm. because how can you possibly earn trust? Like somebody has to grant that freely of their volition. Right. Uh, and yet he comes from a very Christian perspective as well, so I don't know. Right. It's good soup. Yes. You know, I like the soup that we have here in America with lots of different influences and. One of the things I've enjoyed about hosting so many exchange students is for them, like for the most part, everybody thinks in this one little way, whether you know Japan or Italy or, but when they come to America here, they see all these different, you know, there's 15 different kinds of Christian churches in town. Right? Right. And, and, uh, temple and, uh, this and that and a Buddhist shrine and. So I think there's some beauty in

Hope:

that. I do too. And I love the diversity and I love listening to people's thoughts and their belief systems, their values. But you know, even, even going back to the parent, like the one parent that goes, still goes to church every week, the other doesn't go ever. He was the one that encouraged me to read, like, read this book by Thomas Merton, read this book by CS Lewis, read this book by the Dai Lama. Like he was trying to gimme sort of like a world religion perspective. Mm-hmm. But this is what he does now that he's, I think really retired. I think there are no more projects with the university. Um, he volunteers and delivers food for, to the local food bank. So he goes around in my hometown of Lexington and goes to big places like Target and places that I didn't even know where they have surplus of food. And takes them to the food bank. And he's, he's now, he at first was doing it like once a week. He's like, I wanna volunteer, I wanna get back in. He's like, this is a big social problem. And all this food will go the way. There's people that don't have food. But to me, he's out there doing good things and now he is like, I do it four days a week. You know? And I'm like, it's kinda like another job, but not That's great, that's great. But he feels like it's serving a greater good and he's doing good in the world. And so then I go back to like the compassion and connecting and Yeah.

Curt:

Supporting. Well servant leadership. Right, right. Let's move on. The LO experience is the craziest experience that you're willing to share. And have you been thinking about this along the way, or, I know our time is short, but it could be a moment, a day, a month, a year in the life. I don't know. What's your crazy experience? I

Hope:

tell you, I had a flash and then I was like, do I really want,

Curt:

yes, you do wanna really share that if you want to, right?

Hope:

No, you're just ready to share. I've about this's. You're gonna be like, that's not that crazy. Um, so one years back I went to a Dave Matthews concert somewhere in the East Coast, Virginia Beach on New Year's Eve. Um, I was dating pre, pre Denny, I guess. Yeah. Oh gosh, yes. I was dating somebody that, uh, was actually. um, in one of our, our, uh, US military branches and he was on leave and we were all having a great spring break and had this place on the beach for New Year's Eve, and we just decided to take off our clothes and run on the beach naked to celebrate the new year. I like it I like

Curt:

it. Just the two of you or was a big crowder? Just the two of us. Oh, okay. That was

Hope:

our own, like, let's just do this. Let's, let's just, I like

Curt:

it I've never done it, but I, I want to now, like I've, I've had some little skinny dipping here and there, but never actually run on the beach.

Hope:

Here's the thing. I really don't think I would do that today. I really don't like that. It completely freaks me out, but at the time it just felt like the thing to do.

Curt:

Denny, if you wanna surprise your wife one of these days, Say, Hey baby, let's take our clothes off and run on this beach or this street. Who knows? No, doesn't see us. You have a tradition of that you could join in the the pajama prade or whatever

Hope:

that I do wanna remind you, this was like three decades ago, Kurt. I was. So don't wanna do that

Curt:

Fair enough. Well, nobody will make you. Um, if people wanna snoop you out more, find you, call you, uh, look up the lermer spdc, how would they best go about that? Yeah,

so

Hope:

if they just wanna find me, LinkedIn would be a great place. Okay. Um, and then for the spdc, right, we have a website of course. And so there are what you can get our phone number and call us and someone if, if we're actually available, we pick up the phone, right? We call people back. Um, so that's laer sbdc.org. And we're also on social, we're on Instagram and Facebook and all of that.

Curt:

Do you have one encouraging word for that? Uh, that's six months into business person that we were describing earlier, like outside of just plugging into the spdc, but it's a. A few words that you would say of encouragement. Why do you care so much about small business and why should they push forward? Persevere. Yeah.

Hope:

Um, well they do play an important role in our community, and it's not only making a way for themselves and being an example, but they also can create, you know, livelihoods for other people. Yeah. And really make a contribution. And so I would just say, you know, when things get tough, don't give up. There is a time to know when it might not be the right business or the timing or whatnot, but there are always people willing to help. But you have to ask

Curt:

I appreciate that. Right. Our motto here at Loco is ask of your needs and share of your abundance. Mm-hmm. And I want to compliment you for doing both of those things well throughout a very interesting career.

Hope:

Oh, thank you. I really, I'm so glad we were able to make this happen, and I really appreciate the invitation to be a guest on your podcast. It's been great to spend time together. Thanks. Hope likewise. Yeah. Thank you, Kurt.