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.