Our Mission

Why Set Them Up For Success


How Set Them Up For Success Started

Hi and welcome! My name is Debbie Elder and I am the owner and founder of the Set Them Up For Success program. Back in 2000, I came across an article in “Reader’s Digest.” The story was about a man in his early forties who had been asked by his boss to take some clients on a fishing trip. That night as he was sharing this opportunity with his wife, her reaction shocked him. She replied, “Aren’t you worried about making a fool of yourself? These are big clients and you don’t know how to fish!” It was his reply that had such a profound effect on me. He told his wife he had fished with his uncle one summer when he was nine years old. In his mind, if he could do it at nine, he could surely fish at forty-three!

This article had a significant impact on how I raised my daughters and it gave me inspiration for my approach to parenting. I was so struck by the incredible truth in this man’s words: what we learn to do as a young child remains easy for us as we age. Armed with this new philosophy, I branched out and started a new division for students in my company, Set them Up For Success. Prior to this new venture, I had been training adults in leadership, communication, conflict resolution, behavior management, and other ‘soft skills’ to improve their relationships both on and off the job. It occurred to me that no one was teaching these very important lessons to kids. I developed an afterschool program that taught students strategies to effectively accomplish their job – being a student. I incorporated all the ‘life skills’ that were not being taught in schools, and within months, I had reached full capacity.

First, I jotted down the skills common to all successful people, regardless of their occupations. Once I had my list, I simply incorporated tools for learning these critical skills into my afterschool program. My philosophy became the new guide for teaching these students: once the big decisions are made, the little ones are easy. In parenting, I shared a very clear vision with my daughters about the kind of women we wanted them to be walking out of my door and into college. This gave us the clarity we needed in making decisions – does it get us to our desired outcome, or not? A little untraditional perhaps, but it worked for me and my daughters and for the thousands of students that followed in their footsteps.