Rhonesha Byng is the Founder and CEO of HerAgenda.com - a digital media platform that bridges the gap between ambition and achievement for millennial women.  In addition to Her Agenda being named one of The 100 Best Websites for Women and one of The 10 Best Websites for Millennial Women by Forbes, Rhonesha has won numerous awards as a journalist making an impact on the broadcasting industry and digital media (including an Emmy for team coverage of a breaking story for NBC New York).  With a motto that ‘no one ever slows her agenda,’ Rhonesha is committed to providing inspiring and empowering content to young women who have ambitious goals.  Find out Rhonesha’s dream for online content, how media shapes society, and how to not let anyone slow your agenda.

Click here to read HerAgenda.com inspiring interviews and articles.

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I created Her Agenda to change the perception of opportunity for millennial women.

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Her Agenda

What is your agenda as a multimedia journalist?

Journalism is my calling.  Media has the power to shape perception, drive change, and move people to take action.  It informs and often shapes society.  Media is a powerful tool and my intention is to use that power to create change.  That’s why I created Her Agenda – to change the perception of opportunity for millennial women.  Her Agenda is a digital media platform to bridge the gap between ambition and achievement for millennial women.  We showcase real stories of women who have achieved their goals and overcome barriers, and couple those stories with direct access to resources and opportunities to help our readers on their path to achieving success.  By doing that, we help young women achieve their dreams.  By showing examples of women who are running companies, leading movements, or forging a new path in an industry it inspires our readers to dream bigger.

What have you learned from the inspiring women you’ve interviewed?

The SVP of Marketing for Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets says that every single day is an opportunity to earn her chair.  She doesn’t take for granted that each and every day she needs to continue to put in the effort and work hard. Beverly Bond, Founder of Black Girls Rock says to start where you are.  Don’t wait.  She didn’t know anything about mentoring before she started Black Girls Rock, but she knew how to DJ and she used what she knew to get to the next level.  Vanessa De Luca, the Editor-in-Chief of Essence didn’t start her career in media until she was 30.  It’s a second career for her (she had to completely start over) and look where she is today!  I don’t conduct every interview.  We have a network of 60 contributors in cities across the country and overseas.  Some of my favorite interviews by our other contributors include features on Misty Copeland, Candice Cook, and Soledad O’Brien.  What I’ve learned collectively from interviewing powerful women is to never give up, feel the fear and do it anyway, and never be afraid to ask for what you want.

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Media has the power to shape perception, drive change, and move people to take action.

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What inspiring and empowering events should be on our agenda?

We’re so lucky that our biggest role models are accessible.  We don’t have to just admire them from a distance.  We can follow their work and meet them at inspiring events.  Many accomplished professionals will speak about their career journey at conferences or on panels.  It’s incredibly inspiring and that inspiration is often what you need to motivate you to do the thing you keep planning to do but are too afraid.  We produce a monthly event series called #HerAgendaLive.  The invite goes out to our email subscribers first and then we share it to our @HerAgenda social media followers on Twitter and Instagram.  We invite high profile women to share their wisdom on career related topics.

What organizations are in your power directory?

When I launched Her Agenda, I knew there were already a ton of organizations and resources working to empower and help women.  However, many of them existed in silos.  You would only know about them if you knew someone who was a member or happened to come across it.  There wasn’t a central place where you could look up empowering organizations to volunteer or join.  I knew when I launched Her Agenda that we couldn’t be everything to everyone.  The grass roots organizations on the ground that offered in person mentorship and leadership development are powerful.  So, we created a directory of those organizations to help them reach a new audience and help our readers discover and gain access to more resources.

What are the ways media can impact and empower young women?

Millennial women consume and share a high volume of content online.  My goal is to meet women where they already are...on social media, online.  Storytelling is a powerful thing.  If you read a story you become invested, connected, and it can humanize someone who may seem perfect or unattainable.  Using media to empower and tell stories of powerful women can help the next generation of women relate to their journey and recognize that if she can do it, then I can do it too.  I want inspiring and empowering content to go viral.

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Never be ashamed of your boldness or your ambitions.

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Her Achievement

What have been your proudest professional accomplishments?

I’m an ambitious goal oriented woman.  With that said, ambitious people are never satisfied.  I’m happy that I’m making strides in my career, but I wouldn’t say I’ve achieved my proudest accomplishment yet.  Over all of the awards I’ve received, I’m most proud of the network of women Her Agenda has created and helped.  We’ve given a lot of women their first professional clips that allowed them to become editors or writers at major publications.  Many of our contributors have received referrals or found jobs through an email we’ve sent.  Now we have a premium user community with an exclusive database of resources and opportunities we typically reserved for our contributors.  The community consists of our contributor network, the women who come to our events, and the women who follow us on social media.  They’re the reason we were named one of Forbes’ Best Websites for Women.  There was a call for nominations and I sent an email to our network and they stepped up and made sure Forbes knew the work Her Agenda was doing.

How do you define remarkable and empowering content?

The basics of storytelling come into play, but really what I think people connect with are the relatable moments.  Getting the person to open up about a time they felt afraid, a failure they had to overcome, or an obstacle they encountered on their path to success is impactful.  If you can meet with the subject in person that’s the best way to really tell a full story.  The next best option is a phone interview.  A last resource is conducting the interview through email.  Always spend time researching before the interview so you can ask specific and direct questions that doesn’t waste time and allows the person to really open up.

I want inspiring and empowering content to go viral.

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What are the steps to success for aspiring writers and journalists?

Intern as much as possible.  Build your portfolio.  Read as much you can.  Study the craft of journalism and read until you find your favorite writers and follow their work.  Internships are key because they give you on the ground real world experiences that you won’t be able to learn in school.  I went to a liberal arts school, so journalism wasn’t a major – it was about the theory of communications.  I started interning when I was 17 for a local NYC radio personality who was also the managing editor of an independent culture/political magazine.  My senior year of high school I got into the Emma Bowen Foundation, which gave me the opportunity to land a top media internship at NBC New York.  I also interned abroad in London at NBC News.  There’s so much you get to learn and do as an intern, but the most important takeaway are the relationships you build with the team.  There are working professionals who know you and know what you’re capable of, so when it’s time for you to look for a job, your name will stand out.

What are your tips for effectively managing a team?

Schedule time at the beginning to talk about goals and explain the big picture and how they fit into it.  Set expectations about the role and identify goals/learning objectives if the person is an intern.  Some would call this an orientation.  It’s important, especially when you’re managing people virtually because a lot of the work will be independent and they need to be self-motivated to complete and sometimes initiate tasks.  Communication is also key.  Be transparent, implement systems, utilize tools like Trello and GoogleDocs to help everyone collaborate and stay on task.

How can we be smart and never let anyone slow our agenda?

Never be afraid.  Do things before you feel you’re ready.  Your feelings will always lie to you.  Learn your craft, study as much as possible, and take action.  Reach out to people you think won’t answer you back and ask for something specific.  Keep pushing and keep asking for what you want.  Never be ashamed of your boldness or your ambitions. 

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Never give up, feel the fear and do it anyway, and never be afraid to ask for what you want.

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Meet Rhonesha Byng

Neighborhood: Brooklyn

Dream Mentor: I admire women who are journalists and CEOs (it's a rare and unique combination to embody on a high level).  My dream mentors are Oprah and Soledad O'Brien.

Go-to Outfit: Romper

Favorite Nail Polish: Nail wraps! I hate nail polish (it always chips and takes too long to dry).

Cocktail of Choice: Sidecar

Best Advice: Never be afraid to ask.

Favorite Quote: ‘Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.’ - Robert Collier 

 

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