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The CNX Way: Run Fast. Run Smart

By: Don Rush, Executive VP and CFO

11/29/2018

It’s hard to believe it’s been only a year since the spin. Given all we’ve accomplished in that year, it seems like it’s been five years. We’ve started to hit our stride as a pure-play E&P company since launching CNX on November 29, 2017, but we still have a lot more work ahead of us.  

On the anniversary of our rebirth as CNX, I’ve been thinking about what’s next. We have the team and assets to succeed and I believe we have the makings of a culture that will take us to the top, but we have to feed it, grow it and never stop building on the foundation that’s been laid. Our culture is based on a winning mindset where we are driven to constantly innovate, think outside the box and never settle for the status quo—examining everything we do through the lens of NAV/share and risk adjusted rates of return. We must continue to relentlessly drive costs down and maintain our track record of steady, responsible execution while continuously innovating and simplifying our business. 
 
I sum up this approach with a lesson from a famous children’s book. In Through the Looking Glass, Alice gets schooled by the Red Queen in an important life lesson. After a lot of running, to Alice’s surprise, they haven’t gotten anywhere. “Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place,” responds the Queen. “If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.” This is exactly the kind of mindset we need to have to get to the top and stay on top in today’s E&P space.

But this approach only works if everyone in the company is running twice as fast, running smart and running in the same direction. By doing this, we can accomplish more simultaneously instead of doing new tasks in sequence. 
 
To achieve this, we must embrace our core value of ownership—act like you own the place, because you do. Take initiative—don’t wait around for someone else to act. Look in the mirror, you are that someone. If you see something that can move the needle for CNX, go, do, fight (respectfully), convince and create. Seek the wider team’s input on projects you’re working on and push to provide your input on other’s initiatives where you believe you can add value. When we hit and maintain that gear with everyone running the same speed in the same direction, nothing will be able to stop us from accomplishing all we hope to. 
 
However, make no mistake, we will face challenges. In our industry, we're bound to experience seasons of both peaks and troughs—but that remains something we, as a company, embrace. And that’s exactly why we not only have to run fast, but smart as well. The desire to be better and constantly reboot our thinking affords us the opportunity to win in both scenarios. We’ve experienced the troughs before, and we learned from them. Our hedge book, stacked pay strategy, cost structure, conservative debt structure and prudent fiscal management are all geared toward ensuring we maintain our competitive position in turbulent markets. We’ll use our talent, resources and culture to embrace challenges and find ways to continue to win and navigate the path forward. 

Both our peers and the market are beginning to catch on to what’s happening here at CNX, but if we continue to run twice as fast, they will never catch up. We know what the future can hold for us and our share buybacks are the ultimate bet on our team and our assets—nothing says confidence in the future like putting your money where your mouth is.

We embrace each other’s ideas; we focus on operational execution; we work to control costs across the board; we simplify and streamline the way we do things; and, most importantly, we constantly focus on creating value through NAV/share metrics and smart capital allocation—that’s the CNX way.

I’m proud to continue running with our team as we write the next chapter in this journey. But let’s always remember that we can’t just run fast, we have to run smart and twice as fast as everyone else. 

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