The family not only views their own lives as being a precious trust they get to steward but also encourages others to live their lives through the lens of the legacy they desire to leave behind.
A Generation-Spanning Legacy
The Sorensen family story includes two men who immigrated from Denmark in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, one to plant churches and leave a spiritual legacy in his new country and the other to take advantage of the offers of farming ground in the Midwest. Those men then had children who met, married, and raised a family on the farm.
The threads of legacy begun by those brave immigrants continued to be evident in the choices of their children. The granddaughter of the church planter started a women’s circle for ladies of the church to gather and fellowship while serving their community and was passionate about world missions. The son of the farmer grew up to farm and appeared in magazines for his ingenuity in creating practical inventions that made farming easier and more convenient.
The next generation has continued the legacy of farming and a passion for their faith, but they have taken it a step further and now teach others about the importance of legacy.
Arlin Sorensen went to college to study farm operations but has an entrepreneurial spirit, like his father and immigrant ancestors. He and his brother Bradley partnered in running the family farm operation.
Arlin then started an information technology (IT) company in the middle of a cornfield that sold and serviced computers for farmers, rural companies and organizations. As the company expanded, Brad took over the farming and Arlin focused on the computer company full-time except for planting and harvest. The brothers have been 50/50 partners in nearly every venture.
The Sorensen brothers were passionate about providing jobs for people in rural areas and about serving companies who needed access to technology but weren’t located in a city. Arlin grew their IT company to 102 employees in five states before selling it in 2012. Brad always uses retired farmers and local friends to help with harvest and planting, holding a big harvest dinner each year where the family and those who helped with the harvest stop to acknowledge God’s goodness that has brought another harvest.
Arlin also started a second organization to provide leaders of IT companies an opportunity to share best practices and learn from other leaders in their industry. This peer group company has over 75 groups and works with over 1000 leaders of IT companies across North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand.
A passion for farming runs deep in the bones for the Sorensen men, so Arlin started a third company called HTS Ag, which sells and services the precision technology that enables an efficient farming operation today.
He took his knowledge of how to get smart business owners to share ideas and leverage one another to grow their companies and started peer groups for precision agriculture business leaders. The team also offers peer groups for farmers who are clients of HTS Ag.
Both of Arlin’s children came back to join the IT peer group company. Brad’s son now runs the farming operation and is a member of one of the farmer peer groups.
Arlin writes a daily blog with learnings from the prior day, some thoughts on scripture he is studying, and some content from another area of interest. He shares that via a daily email to a list of over 1300 followers around the globe and hasn’t missed a single day (it comes out six days a week – not on Sunday) since the fall of 2008. It too is part of the family legacy of working to educate others about life and legacy, and now features Laurie writing on Saturdays.
The next generation of Sorensen’s are continuing their family’s legacy of teaching others about living intentionally today in a way that will matter tomorrow.
Investing in Others: How the Sorensen Family Shares Their Learnings about Legacy
The top of an org chart can be a lonely place for a leader. Peer groups provide a place for leaders to be people, to share their joys and struggles in both work and life with people who have similar job titles and responsibilities. Groups typically consist of 10-12 company leaders who meet regularly to share and learn together.
There are many peer group organizations, but IT Nation Evolve and the peer groups run by HTS Ag are different because they focus equally on business and life, both of which are built on the foundation of an individual’s legacy plan for their life and business.
Members spend time sharing an update of their quarter, including things that went well and those that could have gone better. Conversations about marriage and parenting, measured by a quarterly scorecard, are interwoven with leadership discussions and best practices about running a company (or a farm).
Here are some of the messages the Sorensen family shares about legacy:
- “Begin with the end in mind” as Stephen Covey was fond of saying. Envision what you desire to leave behind and then begin to live toward that vision.
- Start today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed (the death rate still hovers around 100%, after all).
- Time is your most precious resource. Invest it wisely. You always get 168 hours every week.
- Remember that both work and life matter. Balance is an illusion, but we need to manage the tension between the two. Don’t build your business at the expense of your family and your life.
- Live intentionally today toward your vision of what you desire to leave behind. We are all leaving a legacy; the question is just whether it will be an intentional legacy or an accidental sum total of the days we lived.
- You get to choose. What legacy will you leave behind? You will leave a legacy whether you plan it or not.
- “Vision without execution is hallucination.” —Thomas Edison
For the Sorensen family, each generation is dedicated to leaving an intentional legacy and teaching others to do the same.
For more information on IT peer groups, visit https://www.connectwise.com/theitnation/evolve.
To be added to Arlin’s daily blog update, email firstname.lastname@example.org and put add in the subject line.
To see the Iowa Public Television piece on our story, visit http://www.iptv.org/video/story/27188/iowa-entrepreneur-htg.
For more articles on timeless wisdom and legacy planning, click here to subscribe to Legacy Arts Magazine.
Laurie Sorensen serves as a Learning Architect for ConnectWise, developing and delivering training and knowledge sharing opportunities designed to assist partners in reaching their desired growth and legacy. She also facilitates LifePlans for individuals and couples and travels to speak to audiences about legacy and the power of living intentionally. Laurie holds a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership as well as a second master’s degree in the field of education. She is energized by thinking, planning, and writing on topics that help partners grow their leadership. Laurie is the author of the Planning for Success workbook which guides people through Legacy, Business, Life and Leadership planning the IT Nation Way. Laurie lives in Omaha, Nebraska. She enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family and friends. In her spare time, Laurie volunteers with her church. She is the proud aunt to three nephews and one niece who serve as constant reminders why it is important to live intentionally and leave a legacy that makes much of Jesus. To contact Laurie, e-mail her at email@example.com.