Cathy Tooley

I am committed to the success of my business because at the end of what I do is children and they mean everything to me and always have.


Cathy S. Tooley is the president and CEO of Tools for Success. Cathy is a trainer/consultant focusing on both academic and professional trainings. She utilizes her strategies to learn and grow individuals, companies and schools. Additionally, the business offers an opportunity to hire an outstanding presenter and an exciting speaker to motivate, to educate, and to inspire any audience.

Cathy Tooley is a dynamic presenter, an intuitive educator, a collaborative consultant, and a parent who knows how to deliver content. Her consultations and presentations on a variety of topics deliver practical information, humor and immediate results. Her presentations allow both individuals and companies to learn from themselves and from each other to maximize their results.

Cathy Tooley at her core is an educator. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Marian College (now University) and her Master’s degree from Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis. Cathy began her educational journey by teaching high school Spanish. Cathy has, in her thirty years in education, experience from the perspective of the teacher’s desk to the perspective of the principal’s chair. She is proud of all of the many “hats” she has worn throughout her career in education.

Cathy has been married to Chuck for thirty two years. She is the proud mother of three successful and loving children, Chelsea, Joshua and Jacob. She and her husband are proud of their accomplishments but even more proud of the people they are in this world and the contributions they are bringing to our world.

Cathy looks forward to sharing her Tools for Success with her audiences. She looks forward to the opportunity to share her life experiences, life lessons and “tools” to life with you today.

Where did the idea for Tools for Success come from?

The name came from my last name. My name is Cathy Tooley and I wanted to do a “play on words” as a former English/Spanish teacher and the name Tools for Success was born. I also think of what I do as adding tools to the toolbox of our teachers with additional strategies and ways of thinking. So, I liked that visual as well.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Wow that varies. I am quite often IN a school leading teachers on some sort or professional development learning. So, that will, with travel take most of the day. I force myself to take at least one office day per week. On my office days I am doing research and preparations for an upcoming professional development or doing marketing stuff or answering emails and completing office kinds of things. I chunk my day to make sure that I am being most efficient my completing tasks that are most pressing first and then moving on to tasks that are not so time sensitive last.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Mostly from experience. As an educator I remember the things that I so wished I had learned. The things that I had to “go find out on my own” because what I wanted did just not exist. I was blessed to be at a district that provided quite a bit of PD but I still needed and wanted more. I am a learner, as so many of our educators are, and I just wanted to learn the very best for my students. As I transitioned to the role of principal I looked and looked for someone who does what I do. I searched for a partner to bring “another voice” to my teachers and was saddened to find someone who had the educational experience and understanding to assist me. So, my ideas that I do every day with my teachers are born out of what I KNOW they are looking for and now their evaluations are requiring them to have.

What’s one trend that excites you?

One of the things that excites me the most is that schools (both teachers and administrators) recognize the need and the value of meaningful, tangible, hands on and usable PD. They are understanding that if you arm teachers with the skills and tools to teach the best they can and the ability to understand data and use it effectively we CAN and are changing our schools. That makes me SO excited!!!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I am so disciplined. I know what had to be done and I get it done. I don’t make excuses. I don’t “let myself off the hook”. I don’t blame others, I make it happen. I am committed to the success of my business because at the end of what I do is children and they mean EVERYTHING to me and always have.

What advice would you give your younger self?

STOP WORRYING. Things will work out exactly as they are meant to be and your time worrying is time wasted. Work hard, be committed, set your intention, pay the prices and KNOW that is will come to be!

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Oh, that is a LONG story but let me give you the quick version. I wrote a book, “The Education System is Broken: Strategies to Rebuilding Hope, Lives and Futures.” Every chapter of that book tells what every educator KNOWS is happening in our schools but is too “scared” to say it. Many of my educator colleagues disagree with my writing the book as they feel that I am, “airing our dirty laundry.” I could not disagree more. We cannot fix what we do not acknowledge and we must acknowledge that many of our schools are NOT WORKING!!!

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I am constantly reflecting on what is working and what is not working in my business. I am evaluating every PD that I do to establish the goals that I set for it and to measure, through data, if those goals were met. I do not know how you grow if you do not gather data, measure that data, learn from that data and set expectations and goals from it.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

BELIEF! I would say without question it is my belief in my business. I knew NOTHING about starting a business. I did not go to school for that and it is nothing that I planned on ever doing. I had no “skills”, I thought. I for sure did to have any experience. But what I knew for sure was that this WAS going to happen, and I was going to help more schools through my business that I ever could/would as a teacher or an administrator. I KNEW this was my calling and I did not have a clue as to how I was going to get there I just knew I would. In the dark and scary times of making little to no money I just relied back on the BELIEF that this was and is my calling.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I did not ask for help. I did not know where to turn for help as I did not know any other entrepreneurs. My father had started his own company, but he had passed 10 years before I started mine. I did not know how to look to find a mentor, someone who had successfully done this before. I felt as if anyone who was a “successful” entrepreneur did not have time to “mentor” me. I found out that was a lie. That was my own scarcity thinking. Once I started to surround myself with other SUCCESSFUL entrepreneurs the growth of my company was AMAZING. I learned that everyone has an opinion as to how to start, grow and maintain your business. Many of those opinions came from “friends and family” who had never started their own businesses before. I learned that while, well intended they may have been, they could not assist me in navigating a road they had never traveled. Once I started seeking advice and mentoring from those who were successfully waking this road I learned and grew to where I am today!

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

If someone would unpack all of the state standards for all grade levels they could sell it.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

A spa day ALONE!! Ahhhhh, personal and so refreshing and needed. Everyone should take some time alone to regroup, refresh, replenish and regenerate. It was the best money I had spent in a long time.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I use GoDaddy for my email and my web page. I LOVE them. Their customer service for those of who can be “technologically challenged” is amazing. They never make me feel stupid. They are patient and so amazing and always solve our issues…that I often created. I also LOVE MailChimp for mass email marketing. Cheap, easy to use and so user friendly.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Clearly, I am going to recommend my book, “The Education System is Broken: Strategies to Rebuilding Hope, Lives and Futures.” Not only because it is a great read for anyone interested as to what is really happening in our schools but also because this book offers solutions as to HOW we can fix it.

What is your favorite quote?

Whether you think you can or can’t, you are right.” Henry Ford.

Key learnings:

  • Be committed to doing and giving your best every day.
  • Life is not defined by what we can do it is defined but what we are committed to doing.
  • I live a life of abundance therefore scarcity is nothing I can worry about.
  • Together education will be changed. Not because we wish it or we want it but because we MAKE it change…one teacher at a time.

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