This column is dedicated to you.

It’s been almost three years since I started writing #gocoop for RE Magazine, and I wanted to use some of the space this month to thank those of you who have made reading my missives on the future of co-ops a part of your monthly routine.

I’ve worked hard to make these pieces both challenging and informative; inspiring and reflective.

I’d especially like to thank those readers who have taken time out of their busy schedules to share their thoughts and feedback with me. You’ve emailed. You’ve stopped me in the halls at conferences. You’ve called and texted. And some of you have even mailed me letters.

A few columns stand out in this regard.

In January 2018, we ran “The ‘Not My Problem’ Problem,” which discussed the need for senior co-op leaders who are nearing retirement to “finish strong” and make their last few years their best. The feedback frankly shocked me. I got responses from several CEOs, which I expected, but also from board members and co-op staff up and down the seniority chain. They were nearly all supportive of the message, and it was a real awakening for me that #gocoop was actually resonating. My favorite response, for obvious reasons: “Adam, I enjoyed your article! I am retiring in the next year and have struggled with the “not my problem problem.” Your article has reenergized me, and I have pledged to myself to make 2018 the best year ever for our cooperative.”

Other columns that struck a chord were “The Amazon Effect,” the April 2018 piece where I talked about the need for co-ops to adapt to meet changing member demands; “Everyone’s a Communicator” in August 2018, which touched on how employees should be empowered to explain the co-op’s mission, values, and priorities; and the November 2018 “Outside Advisory Directors” column asking whether it was time to look beyond our boundaries for board members with certain expertise.

I’m extremely grateful for all of your comments over the years, whether complimentary or critical. I consider every interaction with you to be an opportunity to test my assumptions, to grow as a person and as a co-op advocate, and to learn.

Expressing gratitude feels good. And it does good. So I’ll close this issue with some simple advice: Your kind words mean more than you realize. Offer them freely and openly to your colleagues.

As I’ve mentioned many times in this column, electric co-ops are going through a period of change and uncertainty. It’s in times like these that we can find ourselves overworked, frustrated, anxious, and unsure. Sometimes the expressed gratitude of a peer or a boss can help us put it all in perspective or encourage us to keep pushing forward when we’re reaching our limit. 

I think we need this now more than ever.

I’ll go first.

Thank you. 

Adam Schwartz is the founder of The Cooperative Way, a consulting firm helping co-ops succeed. He is an author, consultant, educator, speaker, and member-owner of the CDS Consulting Co-op. You can follow him on Twitter @adamcooperative or email him at

Editor’s note: The ideas expressed in #gocoop are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of NRECA or RE Magazine.