Coming Out With It

As Anne has alluded, our reentry has been a little bumpier than we expected. We knew there would be shock adjusting to the average American lifestyle, replete with big houses, cars, and bulk consumerism. We even expected difficulty getting used to being separated after 11 months of round the clock togetherness. But one thing we did not expect, at least not right away, was the task of adjusting to a new employment situation. Those of you who know me are familiar with my zeal and unabashed pride at working for EarthLink. I have been with the company for the past eight and half years and considered the work I have done there as more than just a job. For years we have been the only independent ISP, the last company of significance providing an alternative to the monopolists and duopolists (the cable and phone companies). It has been a hard fight. As the underdog, we’ve always had to work harder and do more with less. Even so I’ve found the work emotionally rewarding. Regardless of a perpetually lagging stock price, I always threw myself into my work with everything I had. Unfortunately for me, the Earthlink I left is no more. In its place is a new company in the middle of a dramatic change. If you have been following us long enough, you know that the EarthLink CEO, Garry Betty, died unexpectedly in January. EarthLink hired a new CEO about five weeks ago, and he is in the process of analyzing the business and will be making major changes in the near future. I agree with his approach and support his efforts, but sadly I will not be part of them. Regardless of my past contributions, being the guy who has been on leave for a year puts me in a tenuous position when someone is aggressively looking to make cuts. In short, I didn’t even make it in the door. As soon as we got home, I received word that I needed to move on. I had always thought this was a possibility and even offered to quit when I first approached Garry about the trip, but I was completely unprepared to start looking our first day back in the country. Both Anne and I spent much of last week in shock trying to process the news.

This week I am doing much better. I am going to miss the many great people at Earthlink and the uphill challenge we faced. In the long run, however, I believe the change will be a good thing. Coming off our life-changing experience, there are a myriad of different things I would like to do and directions I would like to take both my career and my family. The trip reaffirmed many positive things about both people and business, so I have returned with a newfound optimism and hope. Much of what attracted me to EarthLink–the innovation, the customer-centeredness, and the desire to contribute to society–can be found in abundance around the world. Now that we’re home, the planet seems small but the opportunities vast. Filtering them is going to be my biggest challenge. For the short term I will spend a lot of time discovering what is out there and coaching Asher’s soccer team. Then I look forward to throwing myself into a job that is both challenging and meaningful.

If you have any ideas, send them to me. And if you are looking to hire an executive with varied experience, including dragging small children around the globe you know where to reach me.

I had planned on creating one last entry saying good bye and thank you as I headed off to work, but I guess that post will have to wait. You can look forward to many future updates as our ongoing saga continues.

And finally, it wouldn’t be a post-trip entry if I didn’t somehow leave you hanging. The same day we learned of our unemployment, we also received word that someone might be interested in helping us with future Sixintheworld travels and sharing our adventures with a bigger audience. The possibility is tantalizing, and though a long-shot, a fascinating development in our domestic lives. As always, we’ll keep you posted.

44 thoughts on “Coming Out With It

  1. Tom,
    good luck for Your looking for a new opportunity.

    I am sure, your experiences will help you tremendously. And who knows, perhaps this will turn out to be a great chance, which You would not have taken, if you were not fired.

    I am looking forward to Your next posts.

  2. you guys are awesome …. can’t wait to see you on the Big Screen or in a reality series. it would be wonderful!

  3. I have only logged on recently, as my husband & two small children (6 & 8)also want to take a year out & travel the world. I was trawling the internet & your website has got me hooked & more determined to find the resourses to have our “adventure”…we have never travelled far afield before & never with back packs etc….I have scoured the book shelves for suitable books but have found nothing that “feels right” for us!!! Your site is so inspirational & the only thing I can find that reflects what we want to do…so to hear you may be doing “something” for us novices would be great….!!! Thank you

  4. Tom,

    I’m sorry to learn this news. :-( Nonetheless, I’m really proud of your family finishing this trip. As much as I like EarthLink, I think what you have accomplished is priceless, and is something far beyond what one could by staying on a job at home. I have no doubt in your success in whichever future endeavor you put your mind to.

  5. Whoa. This would require an adjustment.
    I vote for selling the house and getting back on the road.
    Isn’t there a saying out there about a door closing a window opening??

  6. That’s a shame, although I agree with the PP about the window. I think that this time with your family is invaluable and am thrilled to know that there is a surprise in the works. Your family has inspired us (we have four young children, 8,6,3 and 20 months) to at least travel outside the box a little.

  7. Here’s hoping and praying that it will be a very short time before you inform us “out here” of exciting new opportunities and challenges to pursue. Can’t believe it will be otherwise!

    Love, Sandy

  8. Praying God leads you where He wants you to go…He kept you safe on a year long trip…I have no doubt He will continue to do so…Good luck with your job hunt!!!

  9. i hate the new ceo.

    btw, online poker is less lucrative then it was in 2004 and 2005 but it’s still there for someone who knows math. let’s talk :)

  10. Tom:
    So sorry to hear the news about your situation with EarthLink. You will be sorely missed around here. Let us know where you eventually land–many of us are interested, for obvious reasons.

    On a more positive note, your web/blog site is beyond awesome. The photos are breathtaking and the narrative is eminently readable. You and your family will surely treasure it for years to come.

  11. Our family from NC has been keeping up with your blog. We loved hearing and seeing the many pictures. I am sorry to hear of your unemployment. I am a Earthlink Internet Customer, and I hope the changes are good. Our family will keep you in prayers that you soon find a job that you will enjoy. Maybe this will be a good opportunity for you family and more trips? Thanks for sharing your family’s adventure with us all. Keep us updated.
    Tim, Kelly and Emily in NC

  12. We, like Becky, have found your blog fascinating and a great resource as we are also a family of 4 (girl 13, boy 10) leaving on our own 11 month RTW trip on August 9th.

    I’m an sorry to hear about your lack of employment but I’m sure it will be as temporary as you would like it to be. Keep up the great blog.

  13. I’ve been an avid reader and fan, but have never commented until now. As your worldwide adventure comes to a close, and your domestic one begins, I wanted to thank you for letting me travel the world vicariously. I forget how my sister-in-law knows you (I think you’re a friend of one of her friends or something), but I’ve been hooked since she told me about your website. I would love to take my family on a trip like this one day, but seeing as my boys are still quite young (the oldest is 6), we’ve got a little growing up to do before that can happen.
    Are you going to be on Oprah again, now that your trip is over? I’m one of the few moms out there that doesn’t watch or record Oprah daily, so I missed your appearance and I don’t want to miss another one!
    One last thought – now that you have more time on your hands (sorry about that!), how about you ditch the job market and start writing? You are both excellent writers, and Anne certainly has the background. With all your travel experience, I think you have the makings for a whole travel series. I for one, would love to see books on how to travel as a family.
    – How to keep kids entertained on the road
    – How to keep kids safe while travelling
    – Most kid-friendly destinations
    – Education on the go
    And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head!
    Thank you again for sharing your adventures with me. I enjoyed every post. Your boys are talented writers too, and it was fun to see how each person had a different view of the same experience.
    Congratulations on completing your trek! I’m looking forward to hearing more about the Six in the future. :)

    Michiko in CO

  14. Probably a good thing, but I was looking forward to seeing you again. ELNK will be moving me out in your direction, so I hope this happens. In the mean time Destination Hotels — (Intercontinental) in Atlanta, is Looking for a VP IT/Technology. Greg Osgood knows the folks, you should hook up with him for an entré.

  15. Tom, we just heard the news out in Pasadena. Just this week we were discussing how excited we were to have you return, so I’m sad that we won’t have the opportunity to continue working together here. You deserve credit for a lot of innovations over the years at EarthLink. We’ll miss you, but we’ll be following your adventures and with you in spirit. Best wishes.

  16. Though I’m sure the shock will take some time to get over, I have no doubt that you will end up in a better place and that you, Anne and the kids will be better off because of it. I think I’m most upset that now Elnk won’t be bringing you to the West Coast anytime soon. Look forward to hearing about your new adventures.


  17. Wow, I was hoping that wasn’t it. I have been following your family since January and really look forward to the postings.

    I have an aquaintance who is a Director at Google that is also really big into world travel….as in he has done what your family has done. He is current over in China working on some projects for Google…I am going to email him and have him look at your site. You never know…he may have something for you.

  18. Tom,
    I bought stuff to decorate your office, and just found out today that you won’t be coming back!!! You know what you can do now? Print all your blog material and get it published as a book or series. It’s phenomenal. And then take that money and do some more traveling. But keep blogging so we feel like we’re along for the ride. The truth is, you never know what’s around the corner, and every industry seems precarious. Fortunately for you, you have just spent the past year bonding with the most important people in your life. I, on the other hand, missed out on a continued relationship. I have enjoyed working with you, and wish you and your family all the best!

  19. With our own RTW trip to begin in July 08, (after 18 months of planning already!) we have learned loads from following your site. and congratulate you on fulfilling the dream!
    One of my biggest concerns is also the “return” to reality. As we discuss regularly, employment(& fear of not having any…) cannot be a show stopper. Trip or no trip, we could all lose jobs in the blink of an eye. Have faith, as I am CERTAIN you will be snatched up into a position soon!

    Please do keep us updated. Hope your site will be up for a while. Do you expect to pull it down anytime soon? Would love to see a “if we had to do it all again, we might do somethings differently…” Page.Pretty please………
    Welcome home.
    We will pray for your gentle reintegration to “real life”.


  20. Love you tons bro; I’m so proud of the classy way you’re handling the situation. And I can’t tell you how excited we are to come out there and see you guys – and actually get to see you! We know your temporary lack of employment will lead to greater things than before.

    Love you,
    little sis

  21. WOW! Welcome home and sorry about the rough landing.

    I have perfect faith that something better is coming your way. DO write the book, the information is important and there is not enough of it around for families.

    I am sad to see your journey ending as there are few families out here doing this like us and its fun to read about similar experiences. I can not tell you how many times I have laughed in agreement with things you all wrote!

    I know you will be led to what will be just perfect for you and your family.

    We have grown fond of your family thru the blog, so keep us posted!

    Give yourselves the gift of time and lots of breath to find your place. Your last year was more like several life times for most people. 😉

    Trust that things are unfolding perfectly and the answers will come. Find a way to enjoy even this blessing in disguise and the culture shock in reverse.

  22. Wow! At last we know what you guys are facing. Like many readers here, I feel like I know you all and despite everything have a damn good shake up! I feel sure that you will cope beautifully. Everything happens for a reason and strange forces are at work for sure.
    We too are a family planning a rtw trip (becoming very common these days!!) and know that you give me the motivation that we too can have this life changing experience. You, and all the other family bloggers out there are great, sharing all your personal experiences with cyberspace. Thank you all.
    Good luck with whatever life throws at you – and keep us posted!
    Love Liz x

  23. It’s been such a pleasure to be a ‘mouse in your pocket’ as you have experienced the world! I agree that it would be fantastic to have the adventure continue. Whether it is in book form, sponsored website/travel, or in more conventional endeavors I’m confident that this change will be a great thing! My only suggestion is that while I agree that Tom and Anne are excellent writers, your real ‘hook’ is the writings of the kids. Their talents in communicating their view of the world is unique and refreshing! I look forward to the next chapter!

  24. Well you know what they say…when God closes one door He opens another. So, here is to many adventures to come!!

    Can’t wait to see Andrus Family reality tv!! Go for it!!

  25. Hey Tom,

    We’re gonna miss ya here at ELNK. You were one of the most exciting things about working here and your presence and leadership will be sorely missed. It’s been a great pleasure and an honor to have been able to work with you closely on a few projects and I’m sure some lucky company will scoop you up rapidly.

    Best of luck and stay in touch!

  26. Sorry to hear about the job. If Turner interests you, I would be more than happy to see if I can arrange some introductions.

  27. I have enjoyed living vicariously thru your family and will pray for open doors – career wise. My kids and I are sitting here watching
    “Drive thru History” with Dave Stotts. This
    episode is the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia ~
    I thought of you. I bet a lot of your trip would be on these DVDs. It’s available thru Focus on the Family.

    I enjoy every one of your posts, what an education!

  28. Wow! What an amazing year for the six of you. I’m sorry to hear that the re-entry bumps hit you immediately upon landing.

    Tom and Anne – you both have amazing talents and I’m sure have just spent a year preparing yourself for adventures yet to be discovered. I personally would love to read the book!! After travelling along vicariously with you, I most admire your talents as parents. While I know spending 11 months 24/7 with your children is an amazing blessing, it also takes an incredible amount of patience, stamina, and humor! Congratulations on a successful trip and thanks for taking us along for the ride.


  29. Your trip has been amazing and I am sure bigger and better things are on the horizon for you and the family.

    I am also planning a RTW with my family and your website has been very helpful.

    I have read a few books that have been agreat help as well BUT you cna never have enought resources for families and travel. I hope you can get thie side project going.

    Good luck from up in Canada!

  30. This is just so typical of the shortsightedness of so many american (and Canadian) corporations. They had a fine and loyal employee who has, to put it one way, made himself much more sophisticated and world-wise and valuable (on his own time, and dime, too!) and their first reaction is to say “Oh sorry-we’re cutting payroll for the third quarter so here’s an easy saving!”

    And is this company ever going to want to expand anywhere else in the world? And wouldn’t it be likely to save tons o’bucks in the futurewhen they have somebody around who can say things like “Hey, a lot of your ideas of how to get a toehold in the market of (insert China, India, Turkey, etc.) are going to run aground on the fact that these people don’t think quite like you imagine they do!”.

    Until then you’d figure Earthlink would be grateful to somebody who can think outside the box, who can always encourage flexibility when approaching a new problem etc.

    And then they’ll stand in amazed bemusement as to how Europeans and Asians are just whipping N. American corporations’ butts all over.

    Enough of the rant. Thanks greatly for the whole interesting year-and best wishes for the job search!

  31. Bah. I’m sorry to hear that you will not be coming back. Terrible news for us! Please stay in touch and I wish you luck at your next endeavor!

  32. Knowing both of you like we do we have no doubt that Tom will come out of this with a better deal than he has left behind. Something that will no doubt allow for the continued travels of the “six”. In the meantime if you travel to the ever so exciting state of Indiana remember you have a cousin here! Now in Tipton rather than Berne, but makes me a little closer to Anne’s mom’s family! Multi-family visits made easy.


  33. Hi Tom,

    wow, sorry about the news. There are interesting times at ELNK now… I’m sure gonna miss you. And I know it’ll all work out for you and your family.

    Here’s hoping at some point you pack the bags again and continue the trip – make sure to include Brazil next time around!


  34. So sorry to hear about your job, but I’m sure it’ll just open the doors to more opportunities for you. After reading all about you, you will be a big asset to any company!

    I’ve been following your site the past few weeks after scouring the internet for some good advice, which there seems to be very little. My husband, 20 month old daughter and I are leaving on a family/surf RTW trip next February. Not that we are fame seekers or anything. But we think it would be fun to have some “public documentation” of our trip somehow. Let me know if you have any advice on this, as you seem to know how to approach it.

    All my best,

  35. I feel a need to tell you that your RTW trip has affected more people then you know. I am a suburban mom of 2 sons, they are 7 and 9. We have been homeschooling for 1 yr. My husband is also employed within the tenuous world of corporate America.

    Since last Feb, we have traveled and dreamed with you. Each thing that you did, we learned about. Your writing is so wonderful and descriptive; your pictures are true insight.

    I can only dream of providing my children with the opportunities that you have provided your children. Since unfortunately money is a factor, for now, my family has only traveled through your family. But what a fantastic trip we have had. I was very sad as you came to the end of this journey, because I felt like it was the end of our journey with you.

    I was wrong (and I don’t often say that), I think we will continue our journey with you, be it a different one. I have a suggestion for you, my 2 cents, like others have suggested, I think you should some how publish your experience. But also my sons would love to hear what your children have to say. What is their experience? Maybe write a book and your kids can write a kids book. I would buy both and it would be great to be able to read a book along with my kids.

    You seem like a fantastic, adventurous and intelligent family we would like to get to know more about. This is my way of letting you know, you are thought of, even by people you don’t know. We are wishing you all the best and hope to hear more about new adventures.


  36. I just received word. You and your family have been an inspiraton. Thank you for your contributions within ELNK and out. Best wishes in deciding your next adventure.

    Kent H

  37. Tom –

    I echo my fellow ELNKer’s in that I am truly sorry I won’t see you back here. Heck, who knows how many of us will be left in the coming weeks?! But ever since your Oprah debut, I’ve seen a book, or a screenplay — or both — in your future. The world, as you well know now, is much bigger than little ol’ Peachtree Street :) Please stay in touch!

    Wendy K

  38. Tom,

    I am sorry to hear about ELNK. But, I am glad to hear you are all home safely and that your perspective is positive!
    I absolutely loved following your family’s adventures and would totally add your reality show to my Tivo to do list.

    Smile Always,

  39. Hi Tom,
    If the new CEO had even a remote inkling of what an extraordinary contributor you are, he would never let you go. I have complete faith that you will find a great opportunity that will be even better than those that have come before. I know a great headhunter in NYC in the new media/Internet space if you want me to hook you up. Anyway, welcome back. Congratulations on an amazing year. Call me when you get a chance.
    Hugs to all,

  40. Tom,
    I wanted to say welcome home to you, Anne and the kids. I’ve been trying to keep track of your travels right up until I was laid off from ELNK. I did enjoy working with you and wish you the best in finding a position that meets the right qualifications for you. There is life after ELNK. It just takes a little getting acustomed to.
    Best wishes, Sandy Nichols

  41. Though it has already been offered in various forms, I will pass on my two cents…

    WRITE A BOOK! Perhaps many books. Both you and Anne are such eloquent writers, I would read anything and everything you put out there. Also the blog posts by the kids were so great, to have them involved in some sort of publication would be amazing.

    What is meant to be will be. I just have a suspicion that you are meant to reach people on a larger scale. Your messages of volunteerism, respect for differences, the importance of family, and taking time for living life are important. And you have such an “every man” approachability that your words never feel pushed, just very inspiring.

    Good luck! Greatly looking forward to what lies ahead for you.

    A fan in Canada,

  42. I missed this post on my stack of past Emails and only just read it (Dec 2, 2007). In April I lost my second job in a year and have enjoyed my freedom since. I’ve visited Europe twice for family celebrations and have been working on renovating our home. Once the shock died down I found other opportunities that I’m sure you will, or may have already.

    After following your round the world trip my feeling was you and your family are destined for bigger and better things. Tom, you do not need a conventional job. Make your own future. I’d love to hear about your progress.

    All the very best.


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