The constant juggling, creativity, and adaptability required to parent children are the same skills necessary to found and run a successful company. I function on the “act and adapt” principle. In business, just like in parenting, you simply take the reins and keep moving forward. If you do that with focus, confidence, and genuine appreciation for the people around you — whether your business colleagues or your brood of kids — things have a way of working out.
I had the pleasure to interview Kim Sorensen, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of BlenderBottle Company. The title she cherishes most, however, is that of mother to six wonderful children. Together with her husband, Steve, Kim created two other businesses prior to founding BlenderBottle Company. Kim recently launched a new multi-faceted initiative under the pen name Kim Linette (KimLinette.com). The project includes Kapalua Cove Foundation (Kapalua Cove.com), a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering children; EQ Explorers (EQExplorers.com), a book series designed to inspire children to live big, happy, emotionally healthy lives; and Real Happy Parent (RealHappyParent.com), a podcast that encourages parents and caretakers to find authentic happiness while serving as role models to youth. When Kim is not busy taking care of her family, running BlenderBottle Company, or pursuing her passion to empower others, she enjoys yoga, writing and traveling. Raised in Southern California, Kim resides in Alpine, Utah.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” behind what brought you to this point in your career?
I have always been an entrepreneur at heart, and a shared entrepreneurial spirit is part of what drew my husband and me together. We co-founded two other companies, including a vocabulary software business, before launching BlenderBottle Company. When we founded BlenderBottle Company, we thought it might become a nice home-based business. For the first few years, we ran operations from our 12×12 den and our unfinished garage. A big day at the *office* was when I pushed a couple of master cases (containing about 190 shaker cups) onto the front porch and put a UPS pick-up sign in the window. Eighteen years and a lot of hard work later, our operations now require over 200,000 feet of warehouse and office space and we keep 25–30 shipping docks busy with continuous loading and unloading of BlenderBottle® brand products. As Chief Operating Officer, I still oversee all operations including HR, IT, accounting, legal, customer service, and a worldwide supply chain that ships product to over 90 countries and 90,000 retail doors.
Can you share with us how many children you have?
I have six children ranging in age from 17–31 — five boys and one very strong-willed girl.
Where were you in your career when your child was born/became part of your family?
At the founding of BlenderBottle Company, we had five children. The oldest was 14 and I was pregnant with our sixth child.
Did you always want to be a mother? Can you explain?
Family has always been the most important thing in my life. Ever since I was a young girl, I dreamed of being the mother of a large family. What I didn’t realize was that one day my definition of family would expand to include our 160+ employees — but without doubt, it does.
Did motherhood happen when you thought it would or did it take longer? If it took longer, what advice would you have for another woman in your shoes?
Like many couples today, we struggled with infertility. It took almost three years and a lot of medical effort to have our first child. After that I had a miscarriage, which was heartbreaking. Through all the pain, however, we dialed in what we needed to do. The five successful pregnancies that followed were very much planned and aided by modern medicine.
My advice if you are in a similar situation? Don’t give up. If necessary, find a different path to reach your goal and relish the unexpected rewards along the way. I’m a big believer in the adage that “all problems contain the seeds of opportunity.” The delays to starting our family allowed me to enter the workforce and develop my business skills. If our path to starting a family had been easy, I might not be where I am today. I am grateful now for all those tear-filled days and nights. That time not only helped to develop my business skills, but it also cultivated in me a bone-deep sense of appreciation for the gift that it is to be a parent. I have never taken that for granted.
Can you tell us a bit about what your day-to-day schedule looks like?
That is a great question. It has evolved over time. Initially, when I worked from home, I spent my days clad in sweats and juggling baby food, sales calls, and spreadsheets. When the phone would ring, my children would erupt into a chorus of, “Business call! Business call!” It was their attempt to tell each other to be quiet, which of course resulted in chaotic background noise.
When we moved the business into our first official building and my older children were in school, my then-toddler would sit on the floor next to my desk and create amazing paper crafts while I worked.
Through the years, despite running a rapidly expanding company, I always made it a point to be home when my children were home. I would drop the children at school, race to the office, and work like crazy to accomplish all my meetings and responsibilities before they returned home each day. Today, all of our children work at BlenderBottle Company, with significant roles and responsibilities of their own. This allows me to keep more traditional office hours, yet still be present with my children as they face challenges, hone their professional skills, and develop in their careers.
Has being a parent changed your career path? Can you explain?
Yes and no. I suppose one of the reasons entrepreneurship always appealed to me was that I knew I wanted to be a mother and be able to set my own hours. In college, I was also very drawn to constitutional law. I considered a legal career, but my desire to be a parent of a large family helped tip the scales toward becoming an entrepreneur with greater scheduling flexibility.
Has being a mother made you better at your job? How so?
No question! The constant juggling, creativity, and adaptability required to parent children are the same skills necessary to found and run a successful company. I function on the “act and adapt” principle. In business, just like in parenting, you simply take the reins and keep moving forward. If you do that with focus, confidence, and genuine appreciation for the people around you — whether your business colleagues or your brood of kids — things have a way of working out.
What are the biggest challenges you face being a working mom?
Time, energy, and time. I love being at the helm of our rapidly growing family. I love leading our rapidly growing company. With such big passions, the greatest challenge is learning to leverage every resource I can find. I have to preserve my energy and time to focus on the relationships and opportunities that only I can develop. Everything else, I delegate.
Are there any stories you remember from the early days of parenthood that you want to share?
In the early years, both my start-up corporation and my *start-up children* needed a great deal of my attention. It was a challenging juggling act. The best way I managed this was to have my children work alongside me. This had a lot of advantages. My kids developed a strong work ethic, we had plenty to talk about, and they stayed out of trouble. This also impacted them in more surprising ways. Here are a few examples:
I remember the day I helped set up a traditional plastic kitchen for my daughter. After raising four boys (she was number five of six kids), it was fun to have different obstacles underfoot and to see her excitement about more domestic toys. She settled into her new space, but to my surprise, instead of pretending to bake brownies or stock the fridge, she fashioned a fake computer and got to work in her kitchen office. I watched, day after day, as she and her friends would play “work.” They even started a little neighborhood floral business with business cards and flyers. They were only six or seven years old, so their business didn’t flourish, but it was so fun to see all that she had already gleaned. She learned that business can be socially connecting and fun! My daughter (and my sons, too) did learn to be a great cook, but she is now also a student leader at her university. On many occasions she has told me how much she appreciates my example, showing her that a woman can love and nurture her own family and also be a force for good in community, business, or any other paths she chooses.
I also remember well when my older children were in school, and my youngest son *worked* beside me. He learned to make almost anything out of colored construction paper, tape, and scissors. Each week, he would proudly present his creations at kindergarten show and tell. The teacher was so impressed, she went out and bought a polaroid just to take pictures of his artwork. I knew he was heavily influenced by the business the day he headed out to the warehouse with papers, scissors, and tape in hand and made a FedEx truck, down to the smallest details! That was his crowning achievement. Many years later, he is still an inventor at heart. He keeps a notebook with him that contains a long list of potential inventions. I’m sure he’ll create them someday, when he starts his own company.
Are there any meaningful activities or traditions you’ve made up or implemented that have enhanced your time with your family? Can you share a story or example?
We have a long list of family traditions that have developed through the years. We take an annual trip to Lake Powell in Page, Arizona (think of the Grand Canyon, but filled with water). We love this time together, when we can completely disconnect from technology and focus on one another. We wake surf, build campfires, and revel in the great outdoors. Funny story: I took a jet ski out one day to try to find a Wi-Fi signal on the lake so that I could check email. As I pulled my phone out of the storage box, I fumbled and it fell hundreds of feet down into the water. That was a nice, albeit forced, reminder that I needed to let go of work and focus on our time as a family.
Now that our kids are older and several attend local colleges, we get together on Sundays for family dinners. Once a week we also meet up at a local restaurant for what we call “Family Out Evening.” These and many other traditions keep us close, and also prevent us from falling into office-only relationships. Steve and I cherish the unique opportunity we have to be engaged with our kids in both professional and personal realms.
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 3–5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?
I love the concept of rocks and sand. It’s something that Stephen R. Covey talked about in his book, “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.” He shared the analogy of filling a bucket with sand and then adding rocks vs. filling the bucket with rocks first, then adding sand. If you put the sand in first, the rocks don’t fit. But if you put the rocks in first, the sand fills in all the gaps and everything fits together. The lesson is that the most important things in life are the rocks. Rocks need to be scheduled in first and not moved. Everything else can fill the gaps, as time permits.
There are several non-negotiable *rocks* in my life. Here are a few:
- I’m home when my children are home.
- No electronics at the dinner table (whether at home or eating out).
- I plan several annual family vacations well in advance. I put a lot of time and resources into making these trips great opportunities for family bonding.
- I surround myself with really great people — and then I get out of their way.
- I start my days making sure I have delegated everything that is not critical or that can be done better by someone else.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
I have a presentation that I share at local schools on career days. It starts with the statement, “You are going to live anyway — why not live big?” My children have grown up watching their parents embrace this principle. They truly do not know another way.
We often watch Shark Tank and other business shows as a family. Our youngest learned how to calculate the value of a company from watching these shows. My children all share my passion for continuous learning. I told them early on that I would pay for as many books as they wanted, as long as they read them. Beyond encouraging business acumen and traditional education, our family has traveled together to many places around the world. On their own, our children have had international service opportunities. These experiences have led to lively family and one-on-one conversations and have certainly fueled my children’s passions and predilections to dream big.
As a female entrepreneur and executive, I am also proud to set an important example for my daughter — and equally important, for my sons — of a powerful, accomplished, unstoppable woman. My husband and I have been equal partners in our company from day one, and our kids have grown up with this balance of power as the norm. My daughter rightfully believes that she can do anything, and my sons know that their mother, sister, spouses, girlfriends, and future daughters are some of the most capable, incredible people in the world.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
As a young parent, the book “1–2–3 Magic” changed my life. Recommended by a child psychologist, it helped in the early years when I felt like I was losing ground in disciplining the kids and keeping order in our household.
I also love the book, “The Four Agreements.” When we moved BlenderBottle Company to our current campus (two large custom-built office buildings), I asked the decorator to incorporate The Four Agreements: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and do your best. These phrases are featured on the walls in both of our HR interview rooms. I have trained the company on the importance of following them. Living by these agreements at work and at home has made a huge difference for all of us.
I’m also partial to a soon-to-launch podcast called “Real Happy Parent.” In full disclosure, it’s my own podcast. RHP will not be about parenting tips and tricks. Rather, I intend to recognize the real struggles that parents go through and encourage parents to be happier within themselves. Each podcast will teach a unique happiness principle aimed at helping listeners find authentic happiness, and in turn become better role models for their children.
I was inspired to create RHP because I know from first-hand experience that happiness is not a given. Even when I seemingly had it all — a great marriage, great family, and great career — I struggled through periods of unhappiness. It took a great deal of self-discovery and work, with the help of a therapist, to understand that I needed and deserved to prioritize my personal happiness alongside that of everyone in my care. It was the only way I could become the mother I wanted to be — one who is authentically happy and able to show my children that they are equally deserving and capable of true happiness.
In addition to RHP, I am in the midst of launching a children’s book series called EQ Explorers that teaches children life lessons and relationship skills geared toward living big, happy, emotionally healthy lives. The series is geared toward children, but my aim is for parents to learn hand-in-hand with their kids as they read together. The books also tie into the non-profit Kapalua Cove Foundation, an organization I created to empower underserved children. As you can see, my entrepreneurial spirit is rarely idle! I guess you could call it my “pay-it-forward motivation.” With the success I’ve achieved in my core business, I am fortunate to have the experience and resources to pursue these additional opportunities and create the type of tools that would have helped immensely when I began my parenting journey.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you share or plan to share with your kids?
In addition to The Four Agreements, which I have quoted to my kids for years, I have a favorite life lesson they can all quote in their sleep: “Are you pitiful or powerful?”
It reminds them that they aren’t victims of life. They are powerful enough to dig deep and do hard things!
If you could sit down with every new parent and offer life hacks, must-have products or simple advice, what would be on your list?
Every new parent needs to know that of all the lessons they will teach their children, none is more important than how to live a truly happy, connected life. They won’t learn it from your words — they will learn it from your actions and the example you set.
In other words, in all your service as a parent, don’t forget to nurture yourself. Don’t be afraid to say no to extraneous commitments when your schedule is overloaded, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do prioritize the things that enhance your personal happiness, along with the things that your children want and need. Know that when you are happy and emotionally healthy, you are teaching your children that they can be equally and authentically happy — and that they should demand nothing less from life.
Wow! Thank you so much for these inspirational insights! We really appreciate your time.
About the Author:
Dr. Ely Weinschneider is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist based in New Jersey. Dr. Ely specializes in adolescent and adult psychotherapy, parenting, couples therapy, geriatric therapy, and mood and anxiety disorders. He also has a strong clinical interest in Positive Psychology and Personal Growth and Achievement, and often makes that an integral focus of treatment.
An authority on how to have successful relationships, Dr. Ely has written, lectured and presented nationally to audiences of parents, couples, educators, mental health professionals, clergy, businesses, physicians and healthcare policymakers on subjects such as: effective parenting, raising emotionally intelligent children, motivation, bullying prevention and education, managing loss and grief, spirituality, relationship building, stress management, and developing healthy living habits.
Dr. Ely also writes a regular, nationally syndicated column about the importance of “being present with your children”.
When not busy with all of the above, Dr. Ely works hard at practicing what he preaches, raising his adorable brood (which includes a set of twins and a set of triplets!) together with his wife in Toms River, New Jersey.