Leaving The Corporate Job To Be A Part Of Something Bigger

  • Photos by:
    Katie Cunningham
  • Published on:
    April 3, 2019
  • Reading time by:
    6 minutes
Katie Cunningham womenontopp women on topp LYFETYMES

Women are leaving their corporate jobs to be a part of something bigger and more meaningful. A shocking 86% of women surveyed in a study by REAL left their corporate jobs to start their own companies. In this survey, 43% of respondents said they left because they weren’t following their passion, and 33% said they felt too restricted in their current corporate life.

Katie Cunningham has spent 20+ years in senior roles in corporate. Everything was going fine until she HIT 40. Cunningham’s job was reorganized out after 17 years. A year later her younger brother passed away. Six months later Cunningham went to work in San Francisco for a promising startup that had 100 employees that failed due to lost funding round after 6 months so the whole thing failed. Then she was approached and hired by a big 4 consulting firm which was the worst professional year of Cunningham’s life. Katie Cunningham wasn’t happy so she decided after a health scare that it was time to do what she loves. Cunningham was willing to bet on herself.  

Katie Cunningham’s life has been a huge lesson that changed how she lives and the things she values the most in her life. Like many professional women, Cunningham thought the corporate world was her dream job.

‘’The last 6 months have been the most challenging and rewarding months of my life. I’m 44 and I’m finally doing something I’m really passionate about and having fun doing.‘’

Tell us about LYFETYMES, how does it work? 

LYFETYMES is your free party planner; you can plan all the aspects of a party in one place. It’s great for Birthday Parties, Baby Showers, Bridal Showers, Holiday Get together, Graduation Parties, Engagement Parties, or Any Occasion to Celebrate. Takes the stress out of planning allowing you to spend more time celebrating.

You can start planning a party in 30 seconds from your couch in your pajama’s. You can send Invites, RSVP’s & Manage Guestlists, Create A Celebration Website, Add Registry & Gifts, Checklist & Budgets, Shop Decorations, Pin Pictures, and DIY Ideas and more. You can plan multiple celebrations at one time. And you can invite other hostesses to help with planning and assign tasks, share ideas, etc.  

What inspired you to start LYFETYMES?

I was hosting my friends Baby Shower along with another hostess. I was happy to do it, but I was also busy and traveling a lot with work, so I did what we all do, I typed “Plan a Baby Shower” on Google and What I got back, shocked me. Despite technology advances in other industries, there wasn’t an end to end solution that was easy to use. I was quickly “in over my head.” I knew a digital solution could be built, saving people time and sanity. I was quickly overwhelmed. I was worried I would forget something or let her down. I thought I could not be the only one going through this. After speaking with a ton of moms, I realized I wasn’t. So we reimagined the entire party planning process into one experience. And we are just getting started.

What are your goals currently?

Planning a celebration is hard, stressful, time-consuming, and task-oriented. LYFETYMES is not just to be a “One and Done” party planner; we want to be a valuable resource for all your LYFE’s Celebrations and Moments. We want to be a part of bringing family & friends together, celebrating. Not spending countless hours stressing over planning details or worse; not celebrating milestones at all because it’s a painful process 

How is LYFETYMES different and what are the Unique Selling Points of your business? 

With LYFETYMES you can Create a Free Celebration Website to share party details, RSVPs in a click and include your registry to take the guesswork out of gifting. Easily to read dashboards to keep track of important information and updates, assign tasks, track a budget and countdown clocks. You can build Inspiration Boards to share your favorite ideas to shop decorations, cakes, themes, Vendor and Venues Your “party marketplace” of all things you may need from bakeries to face painters

We know that not every day is a party, but it’s still important to remember someone’s birthday, anniversary, or any special day, so we created LYFEMINDERS- Lyfe’s little reminders – you pick the day, and we will send you a reminder so you can send your love.

We have also personalized every party goers role, so whether you’re the

LYFE OF THE PARTY (Guest)-Guests will be able to view invitation details, mapping directions, gift, and registry information and send the host or co-host questions.

HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTESS (Hosts & Co-Hosts)- We eliminate the confusion. Share tasks, updates, ideas, manage budget all in one place.

STAR OF THE SHOW (Guest of Honor)- GOH can collaborate with Hostess(s) on their special day with limited view (so you don’t give all the details away!) to help with invites, provide registry information, and personalize the event.

Who are your customers? 

Moms that have very little time but still have to be Wonder Women and pull off a great Birthday Party, Couples planning a Superbowl Party or Holiday Party together, Friends who are hosting a Baby or Bridal Shower, Parents who have a demanding teenager with a Sweet Sixteen or Graduation Party, this LYFETYMES is your new best friend. 

We also have partnered with over 2,000 local Bakeries and Venues and continue to grow. We partner with popular DIY bloggers and sites to make sure we have the best resources, ideas, and trends in the industry from cakes to decorations.

What is a skill you think all women should learn and why?  

Women are master multitaskers. They have an EQ that makes them amazing leaders. Studies show over and over women lead companies to do better period. If I had to name one I would say always be honing the Negotiation Skill.  Because it can be applied so broadly but most importantly we need to value ourselves and what we bring to the table. It’s obvious in the gender pay gaps; it’s obvious when you look at female CEO ratios of top companies, its obvious in the percent of female-founded startups that receive funding. So when we negotiate for our equal place, we are setting a higher bar for our value.

What else motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

A culmination of things. When I was growing up, we didn’t celebrate Holidays or Birthdays due to religious reasons, so I always obsessed about having that experience. Coupled with the loss of my brothers, which I know how short life is and I treasure those family memories, and I enjoyed planning birthdays and showers for my kids and friends. 

I just got lucky enough to have a passion, that matched an opportunity in the market and the work experience of seeing startups innovate industries. If I didn’t do it, I would regret it. I don’t want to live with “what if I would have bet on myself” every day.

Being an entrepreneur what are the cons and pros?

Well after you do the dance because you made the jump, reality sets in very fast. 

Pros:

  • You can set your schedule- no more cattle drive at Costco on Saturday because you can go at 10 am on Tuesday when it’s empty
  • Enhanced Skillset- Social media has taught me how to be creative, visual, and crystallize my message – You only have a few moments to land a punch so that forces you to streamline content.

Cons:

  • It’s lonely- Build a good network of people. Not just online but over the phone. It’s important to have people you can bounce ideas off, share struggles & wins. Forums like WOT are supportive communities that have great resources.
  • It’s Harder than you imagined- Whatever difficulty you have in your mind, times it by 100. Expenses? Times it by 10. Time? Forget Costco; you can’t even find time on a Tuesday. 

There is a cost of admission. The hard truth is it takes hard work to be successful at anything. 

What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

Too many to list. But I think it is life’s redirection at times. I’ve had three jobs “fail” in my 40’s- a time where I thought I had it all figured out. But what I didn’t know at the time, each “failure” was a gift and laid the foundation for the next chapter in learning and gave me insight and experience to bring me exactly to where I am today. Could not be here without going through that.  I can smile and see that now, but not at the time. Distance gives you perspective. The biggest lesson and advice? Always get back up, never stay down.

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