At Mavenly, the only thing we love more than providing resources and information to young professional women is seeing other great women with the same great mission. With the motto “No one ever slows her agenda,” Rhonesha Byng created a platform that has reached countless women all over the world. Rhonesha tells us about her daily routine, the woman she looks up to most, and the best advice she’s received.
Location: New York City
Occupation: Founder, Her Agenda
School: DePauw University
Secretly Obsessed With: Vine videos & BRUNCH!
On My Nightstand: Books (CHANEL and her world — coffee table book, 3 different notebooks to write in, Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht, which I read already but still have close by, Women Who Don’t Wait In Line by Reshma Saujani, also already read, Successful Women Think Differently, and Thrive)
Last Thing You Read: Venture Deals, second edition by Brad Feld
How did you get started?
I started in journalism. When I was in high school I had an aha moment as Oprah would call it that I was meant to tell stories using media. As I progressed during my career, I discovered there was a need to create a platform that would inspire my peers to dream bigger and also give them the tools and resources to do so.
At the time, my personal motto was No one Ever Slows Her Agenda which essentially meant, no matter what, to always go after my goals despite the obstacles. I wanted to universalize this mentality of never taking no for an answer and pushing forward no matter the consequences so I created Her Agenda to bridge the gap between ambition and achievement for millennial women.
What are your partnerships like with organizations that empower women?
We list them in our directory. We try to work with them and help to elevate their message in whatever way is most effective. So outside of listing them in our directory, we sometimes will do an editorial partnership, or perhaps an events partnership. The whole point is exposure for them and their work to our audience, which consists of millennial women who are looking to possibly volunteer with that organization or be helped by their organization.
Tell us about your daily routine.
Each day is different. But to summarize it, most days I am just sitting behind a laptop. If I have meetings or interviews for the site they usually happen in the afternoon. I like to use the mornings/early part of the day to focus on content, dealing with contributors, planning, and writing. Once a week I usually have a dinner or panel or some type of event to attend. Some days I block off completely to focus on financials, applying to accelerators and grant opportunities etc.
What key elements played into your success?
I innately had a sense of purpose and direction early in life. I was lucky enough to have a circle of mentors who supported my goals and pushed me to achieve and also inspired me simply through their example. One of my mentors had a radio show and was the managing editor of a magazine, another was running an networking organization for professionals in media and entertainment…I could go on and on.
My sense of purpose and direction from a young age lead me to start my career at 16 which is when I did my first internship. I don’t talk about this often but I am a Christian and I feel a calling towards my work and the direction I am going in.
What’s the best piece of advice you received?
Never be afraid to ask. Invest in the relationships that matter (not just professional but also personal).
What struggles did you face getting to this point?
As an entrepreneur there is a lot of rejection. You get told no more than you get told yes. Even still, you have to get up every day and motivate yourself to keep going. You don’t have a boss to hold you accountable, you have to muster the will power to hold yourself accountable.
Sometimes you can get hung up on a potential opportunity and it will fall through, but the next day you have to give a speech, or interview the next set of interns. Despite that massive failure that makes you want to curl up in a ball and die, you have to keep going. You have to keep putting yourself out there. That’s hard. It requires grit, determination and a little bit of crazy.
Who was the biggest influence in your professional life?
My ultimate role model is Oprah! I’ve always said this from day one. She’s a media mogul who started as a journalist and became a CEO. She uses her platform for empowerment, and she understands the power of story-telling.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? When do you feel most successful?
I’m an ambitious goal oriented woman. With that said, ambitious people are usually never satisfied. I’m happy that I’m making strides in my career but I wouldn’t say I’ve achieved or gotten to my proudest accomplishment yet. Really out of all the awards I’m most proud of the network of women Her Agenda has brought together and helped. We’ve given a lot of women their first professional clips that allowed them to go on to become editors or writers at major publications.
Many of our contributors have gotten referrals or found jobs through an email we sent out and now we have a premium user community so we’re opening up an exclusive database of resources and opportunities that we typically reserve for our contributors to our readers. Community really is everything when it comes to what we do at Her Agenda. 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 can even say that we’re 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.
What advice would you give to girls looking to enter your industry/space?
Learn as much as possible as early as possible. You’re never too young to start. Build relationships. Find mentors. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Never be afraid to ask. Don’t fear rejection, welcome it, there will be a lot of it. Don’t take it personally. Keep going, always. Keep trying. Be persistent and consistent.