Rhonesha Byng is the CEO and Founder of HerAgenda.com, a digital media platform for millennial women. As a journalist and entrepreneur, Rhonesha uses her personal motto, “No One Ever Slows Her Agenda,” to frame her work and her personal brand. In addition to her website, Rhonesha won an Emmy award as a field producer with WNBC!
Your motto is “No one Ever Slows Her Agenda.” Can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with that and how it has shaped Her Agenda and your work as a whole?
I came up with that motto over 10 years ago now, I can’t believe it’s been so long! I was 16 when I came up with it and this was around the time when I first discovered what I was passionate about, which was journalism. From there, I hit the ground running and I didn’t want anyone or anything to stop me from achieving my goal. I was that typical ambitious, bold, and pushy young journalist. And so with journalism, as you know, you are often not invited. You have to push your way through to get access and information, to get access to people, and to get access to the room you want to be in in order to tell the stories you want to tell. So I just knew I could do this naturally and it’s just this mindset that I have that’s like, if someone tells me no, I’m going to find someone else to ask, or find a different way to turn that no into a yes. So as it evolved, and as I learned more about the obstacles women face when they’re going after their goals, and the barriers that exist both internally and externally for women, I wanted to universalize my motto and my mentality so that whatever goal a woman has, they never let anyone or anything stop them from what they want. And that’s what it means today: whatever your goal is, go for it and don’t let anyone or anything stop it. That really served as a foundation for what is now Her Agenda, because through the platform, through the stories that we tell, through the resources we promote, our goal is to help you achieve your goals, to be your champion, and to constantly inspire you and inform you so that you’re equipped to move forward, to move up, and to push through all the barriers that exist.
You have not only built a great brand with Her Agenda, but you’ve also built a powerful personal brand. What was your process like for defining your personal brand?
I am from the school of thought that your personal brand is essentially your reputation. With that in mind, when I started building my personal brand, it was really rooted in the work – in understanding my craft, studying it, and being the first one in the office and the last one to leave. I was that intern that raised her hand for every project. I was that employee, even at entry level, that they knew they could send out on assignment and it would get done, and then some. I would do the assignment and then probably do some more on the side. For example, I worked in TV and so obviously the priority is to get the package on the air. So, I would often go out on stories and I would get the stories for the 5 o’clock or the 6 o’clock, and then I would go back and talk to the digital editor and say hey, I can also write the digital piece to go with it. I was that person. Anything about journalism I could learn; I practiced it and learned how to do it in an effective way. So, I think when you base your brand in quality work, when you really take the time to study and know your craft and people can rely on you for things, that helps with building a strong brand.
Also, not being afraid to say what it is that you’re passionate about and what your goal is. I think when it comes to branding, essentially, it’s what message are you sending to the world. So I constantly sent a consistent message to the world which allows them to understand how they can help me. I believe that most people want to help you, but you need to show them how they can – and you can do that through your brand. What it says in your Twitter bio, to what you communicate when they ask you what you’re working on, all those things help them to understand who you are and what you’re working towards, and ultimately help them to help you.
What advice would you give to young women about finding success in the workplace and achieving their goals? Whether they be graduating seniors who are trying to break into the job market, or young women who are looking to change careers.
I think in terms of finding success in the workplace for young women, the most important thing is to get experience. Get as much experience as you can, get an internship, just get your foot in the door. And also get mentors. A lot of people with the whole mentorship conversation think you go out and you find a mentor. What you actually need to do is help your mentor to find you. To do that, you need to put yourself in those places and spaces where your potential is on display constantly, and people can see that that girl is a star, I actually want to help her, I actually want to pour into her so she can continue on the path that I already know she’s capable of getting on. That’s really how you set yourself up for mentorship and how you set yourself up for success. It’s about getting in those rooms and raising your hand where you meet those women that can ultimately become your mentors. With internships, a lot of people wait for it to be a requirement and I think you need to start before that. If you know what you want to do, or you have some kind of indication of what you want to do or where you want to end up, figure out someone in your city or town, or a professor, who may know someone in that field that can connect you. And if you can’t do an internship, ask to shadow. There’s always a way for you to get your foot in. And when it comes to building those relationships to get your foot in, I recommend joining professional networks. For me, what was helpful was joining the New York Association for Black Journalists, which helped me to get in touch with people who were professionals working in the industry that I wanted to be in. I was able to build those relationships with them before I even got into college.