I started my career when I was 16.
A teacher saw potential in me and it set off the spark and passion and sense of purpose that I have now for journalism. All the elements were there: boldness, curiosity, and the thrill of discovering something new combined with the urge to share it. I also love words. I love writing them and reading them (clearly). So, with that, the journalist in me was unleashed and I hit the ground running.
This put me in a lot of rooms that typically teenagers don’t find themselves in. Rooms with executives, celebrities, politicians and higher ups. I was also given access to a world that most young people don’t get to see. Many of those I encountered back then have now become mentors. I was given the chance to see the people behind many of the top media brands and given access to the possibility of what I could achieve and who I could become because I was able to see it. I saw women who looked like me running companies, hosting radio shows, editing stories that millions of people would read.
From the outside looking in, I looked very busy. Although now, I am against the concept of being busy for the sake of being busy, at that time I absorbed that perception and turned it into a motto by turning my name into an acronym. My nickname, Nesha became N.E.S.H.A. which stood for No one Ever Slows Her Agenda. It stuck.
The impact of having as a motto is powerful. It essentially gave me a way to declare my intention to everyone who knew me or came across me in any way. The term agenda has a negative perception but in my case, my agenda was simply to make it at whatever I put my mind to. No matter what, even if people told me no, or said I was not allowed to do something, I would achieve my goal.
Having a publicly known motto part of my brand also gave my tribe permission to hold me accountable. After a certain point I no longer had to tell people about the motto. They told other people as I stood there, almost as if I wasn’t there. Eventually, a rapper signed to a major label put it in a song (called Brooklyn Girls). It took off.
Now, what started as a personal motto transformed into a blog, and ultimately into a digital media platform offering career advice, resources and inspiration for millennial women.
No one Ever Slows Her Agenda is what started all of this. The motto continues to inspire me to this day. Over the years, we’ve interviewed a number of powerful women and we always ask them what their personal motto is. We combed through all those interviews and chose the top five to debut in a collection of wall art.
There is power in having inspiration beyond your Instagram. Yes, we post a lot of quotes on our Instagram, but unlike most of the quotes you see floating on the Internet these quotes are real, practical snippets from real women. We avoid cliche, typical quotes, because that’s not what sparks true inspiration.
An article in Harvard Business Review by Scott Barry Kaufman about Why Inspiration Matters offers insight on inspiration after he evaluated a series of studies on the topic.
“Mastery of work, absorption, creativity, perceived competence, self-esteem, and optimism were all consequences of inspiration, suggesting that inspiration facilitates these important psychological resources. Interestingly, work mastery also came before inspiration, suggesting that inspiration is not purely passive, but does favor the prepared mind.” Kaufman explained this citing the work of pyschologists Todd M. Thrash and Andrew J. Elliot.
The women behind the quotes make this project all the more inspiring. Lauren Maillian an investor and entrepreneur shared the following with us in an interview we did with her two years ago in regard to how she defines success.
“There’s a mental endurance that you have to have in order to be comfortable with what you define for yourself. People often say, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” My twist on that is, “Is it worth it even if I fail?” If it’s a resounding yes, then I move forward very comfortably. There’s so much to learn.”
Raqiyah Mays is also featured. She was one of my early mentors and I had the opportunity to intern for her when everyone else said I was “too young.” Today she is an author, radio personality and journalist. Her book is the critically acclaimed novel, The Man Curse. In her interview with us she shared this piece of advice:
“The way we feel about ourselves is what we bring out and manifest into our lives. So sometimes we have to go a little bit deeper, beyond the top layer and really see why we’re feeling the way we do. We are in control of our own destiny.”
We also have the honor of highlighting Sophia Chang. She’s a designer and illustrator who has a huge influence within her industry. Her hustle is an inspiration. In a panel with us, she shared her story and reflected on a time when she could barely find enough money to get a Metrocard to meet with clients, and she felt pressure from her parents to get a “real job.”
In a panel about How To Make It As A Creative, I asked her: “speaking of administrative things, can we take a brief second to talk about how you managed to raise the capital, find the capital, or save the capital to do your own thing?”
Sophia shared the following story: “So when you have more money, you have more problems, right? (laughs) Let’s start off with that and I didn’t have that much money. Kind of similar to Danielle, I hit the ground running and just saved. It wasn’t easy because obviously there were moments when I was literally counting quarters, my laundry money, to take the MTA so I could meet a client. I am also extremely prideful so I didn’t want to ask my parents for help so I was eating Kraft Mac and Cheese for a really long time. It was like your typical starving artist phase that I don’t regret and I thought it was really fun. Everyone kind of has to go through it, and when the pressure is there it only pushes you to hustle harder.”
The final quote, “progress not perfection” is from a powerful woman in communications and PR. She shared it with us in an interview on a panel. It’s something we all need to keep in mind as we work toward achieving our goals.
It’s my hope these quotes can help you remember that. Remember that your goals are possible, you have control over your destiny, and to keep it pushing no matter what.
Kaufman cites a study that essentially concluded inspired goals are more likely to get done. “People who were generally more inspired in their daily lives also tended to set inspired goals, which were then more likely to be successfully attained.”
Inspiration is necessary. Keep it around you as a declaration to yourself, to those around you, and never let anyone or anything stop you from achieving — not even yourself.
Get yours today in the Her Agenda shop.