Mimi Dane: Dust off your core values — Use your culture as a foundation for every decision you make

If you ask anyone what makes Flying Horse Farms so special, unquestionably the answer will be “the people.” As CEO of this life-changing organization, I am proud of the culture we have built and believe our culture has everything to do with our success.

As a young organization, we were fortunate to build our culture together — from the ground up, as a team. Together, we established a vision of how we want to be known throughout the state of Ohio, the country and beyond.

We created our 10 core values and didn’t stop editing them until they were perfect. We use our core values as the foundation of every decision we make — from hiring new employees to partnering with corporations and implementing new programs.

If the person, company or idea aligns with our values — we embrace it. When people, corporate philosophies or ideas don’t align with our core values, we gracefully decline the opportunity.

Here is a glimpse into a few of our core values:

Campers first

Creating transformative camp experiences for children with serious illnesses is serious business. It’s also serious fun.

Every decision we make has our campers’ best interest at heart. It’s that simple.

All crew, no passengers

When you visit our office inside the Big Red Barn (and I hope that you will), you will notice a team of authentic people working tirelessly to raise our operating budget, plan our camp programs, maintain our facilities and establish safety protocols to care for our medically fragile campers.

Something else you will likely notice is the collaboration in which we solve our toughest problems. It has been said that the strongest predictor of effectiveness in any organization is the amount of help and collaboration employees are willing to provide and engage in with their colleagues.

At Flying Horse Farms, we have an internal punch line, “other duties as unassigned,” which simply means if the kitchen crew is lean on volunteers, offer to serve a meal and wash the dishes.

We feel a sense of ownership and responsibility to the camp and each other. Working beyond our job description is part of our fabric — we do what needs to be done to make the experience the best possible for our campers.

Fearless is free

We believe the only way to spread our wings and fly is to take risks — boldly.

For our campers, being fearless ranges from spending the night away from home for the first time, to performing on stage, to mastering the skills of archery or soaring amongst the treetops on the high ropes course.

Our campers show us how being fearless brings freedom, joy and confidence.

As the leader of Flying Horse Farms, I encourage all employees to approach our work with the same fearless attitude. Greatness is achieved by taking risks, being bold and believing in the unbelievable. I have seen unbelievable things happen here, so I know the philosophy works.

My advice to CEOs would be to dust off your existing core values or get busy creating them. Be unapologetically committed to running your organization by its set of values. The result of this focused leadership will be nothing short of spectacular.


Mimi Dane
is the CEO of Flying Horse Farms, a camp for children with serious illnesses. Located in Mt. Gilead, the camp serves hundreds of children each year — free of charge. The camp is a member of the SeriousFun Children’s Network, the world’s largest family of camps for children with serious illnesses, which was founded in 1998 by Ohio native, Paul Newman. For more information, visit www.flyinghorsefarms.org.

Learn more about Flying Horse Farms at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/flyinghorsefarms
Twitter: @flyinghorsefarm

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