This will be my last editorial column to you written as your CEO. As I mentioned in the last Highline Notes editorial, the task of writing a monthly column, with a deadline, within a narrow bandwidth of length, on a topic that is important to members, and in a way that’s interesting and informative, is a challenge. But now, with a blank screen staring me in the face, I realize I will miss this regular opportunity to share some thoughts with you. I will miss the creative process and the challenge of presenting sometimes complex issues in a concise manner.
I think I will even miss the discipline that comes from the strict deadlines and length requirements. One of my favorite quotes is this, attributed to eighteenth century English writer Samuel Johnson: “when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” Not that the penalties for missed deadlines are that harsh, but you do feel a lot of pressure to perform when you have a deadline.
I will miss the daily contact with my colleagues here. Knowing that I am part of a team that understands the mission and the cooperative way of doing business has been a real motivator to always try to bring my best self to work each day. The monthly board meetings, which I’ve been attending for over 30 years, will also be missed. We’ve had some very spirited exchanges in the board room over the years but I’ve never had to wonder whether the interests of members were being represented.
A good friend of mine, who retired as a cooperative CEO a few years ago, said it was “the hardest job I ever loved.” I think he was right. This job does have many challenges, not the least of which is trying to meet the expectations of tens of thousands of members every second of every day. We do not always execute perfectly, and we are often not in control of events and circumstances that impact members. But I can assure you that this organization, driven by the wise governance of your elected board and the dedication and talent of my colleagues, has never rested on what was accomplished yesterday. It has never stopped looking for ways to improve on member value and the member experience. This mindset, this fabric of the cooperative, was here long before me and will continue long after.
In my native state of Minnesota we have a tradition called the long goodbye. I think it lapses over into North Dakota as well. Its most familiar form is when the host couple follows the guests out the door for a parting conversation on the porch. This is followed by more visiting on the way to the car and continues with the car doors open for awhile. Once in the car, the guests roll down the windows and the long goodbye continues, sometimes even after the car is in motion. I’m not going to do a long goodbye here. I will just leave you with my profound gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of this great organization.
You will be introduced to your new CEO, Marshal Albright, elsewhere in this issue. I extend my heartiest congratulations to Marshal as he leaves his position of Vice President of Member & Energy Services here and takes over the reins. Marshal has been with CCEC for nearly 30 years and is well-known by the membership as an excellent communicator and a champion of the cooperative business model. His deep institutional knowledge and experience will serve CCEC well.