2008 was a different time. Millennials witnessed a range of major events from the global financial crisis of 2008 to the election of the 44th U.S. President Barack Obama, that would shape their lives for years to come.
While the state of the world may have been disheartening for some, Rhonesha Byng saw the opportunity to take her journalism skills coupled with her NYC grit to provide the support her peers needed. In 2008, Rhonesha founded Her Agenda.
Being led by Rhonesha, Her Agenda’s mission was and still is to bridge the gap between ambition and achievement for millennial women through a content and community platform. Through interviews conducted by our contributor’s network of women writers, millennials have listened, learned, and lived through the experiences of women executives and entrepreneurs sharing exactly what it takes to get started or get to the next level.
Her Agenda has had over 450 women featured in our award-winning series “A Peek Inside Her Agenda.”
As we celebrate 15 years of doing the work to support and inspire millennial women, now is a great time to reflect on lessons learned along the way.
Here are 15 pieces of advice we’d love to highlight:
1. Know Your Why
As the CEO of Planned Parenthood, Alexis McGill Johnson plays an important role in supporting and protecting women. In her interview with Her Agenda, she shares her thoughts on key moments like the reversal of Roe V. Wade, her reflection on her Ivy League experiences, and personal takeaways about self-care. A great takeaway from this interview is the importance of being in service to others as well as yourself. Read more: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Alexis McGill Johnson
2. Share the load.
Best-selling author Eve Rodsky is on a mission to rebalance domestic life and make things “fair.” In her interview, she shared how a personal project from her home experience coupled with her Harvard law and JP Morgan management background led to her authoring her first book, Fair Play. One thing is for sure, Eve’s work makes one thing clear: in order to get further, we have to share the load – at work and home.
Read more: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Eve Rodsky
3. Don’t be afraid to break the rules.
Writer and producer Tracy Oliver received news that her feature film Girls Trip had grossed over $100 million worldwide when we spoke with her in 2017. But among the gems dropped about her career journey aside from her goal to tell more stories about Black women – was that “sometimes you have to break the rules, bet on yourself and not adhere to the status quo in order to make a mark.”
Read more: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Tracy Oliver.
4. Continue to expand.
Elaine Welteroth earned her seat at the table as Condé Nast’s second Black Editor-In-Chief (EIC) and the youngest EIC of Teen Vogue, but she realized she wanted more. Elaine spoke with Her Agenda in 2021 about how she is building her own table. Amongst the many things she shared from her upbringing to her next steps, words that stuck with us were about the determination you need to keep going. Elaine said, “When the world tells you to shrink, expand.”
Read more: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Elaine Welteroth
5. Stay true to yourself.
Vashtie Kola has a few different titles she is known for including director, producer, and entrepreneur. As the first woman to design a Jordan for Nike, when Vashtie spoke to Her Agenda, we wanted to know what her day-to-day looked like, her inspiration, and her advice to peers. Vashtie’s most powerful advice was that women should “be true to their interests and likes.” And through all the hard work, she does not force things: “My biggest successes and high points come from not forcing things. Not to say that I don’t work hard, I work hard – I just don’t get worked up on having expectations. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.” Read more: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Vashtie Kola. Fun fact: Vashtie was Her Agenda’s first-ever Power Agenda interview!
6. Focus on positive thoughts.
On-air talent and entertainment journalist Gia Peppers spoke about career milestones and hacks for success in her 2021 interview with Her Agenda. While Gia gave a lot of great advice, one of the most powerful excerpts is not about work but related to self. Gia says “The most important relationship that you have is the one with yourself.” Read more: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Gia Peppers
7. Acknowledge fear and deal with it.
Screenwriter and producer Felicia Pride joined Her Agenda in 2019 to discuss her career pivot, what other creatives she’s inspired by, and how her digital brand Honey Chile. While Pride’s 20-year career in publishing and entertainment was amazing in and of itself, her candidness about acknowledging fear was top-tier. Pride says, “The faster we can acknowledge fear and deal with it, the better off we are. It’s going to happen. We’re going to be fearful. But we put off the confrontation longer than we have to.”
Read more: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Felicia Pride
8. Your voice is important.
Founder and President of The Posse Foundation Debbie Bial spoke with Her Agenda in 2016 to share how she grew Posse from a concept to one of the most renowned college scholarship and leadership programs in the United States. Debbie shared her belief that the voice and opinions of young people are hugely important— and that remains true today. Read more: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Debbie Bial
9. Respect is a daily exercise.
In 2014, Elisa Padilla was the Senior Vice President of Marketing, Brooklyn Nets & Barclays Center and she took the time to joinHer Agenda at Barclays to share everything from her career journey and lessons learned along the way to her work on the award-winning Hello Brooklyn campaign. One indispensable piece of advice from her interview — “you have to be respectful no matter who’s emailing you. Whether it’s the CEO of the company, or whether it’s an intern.” Read more: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Elisa Padilla
10. Education is a good stepping stone.
Forté CEO Elissa Stanger believes in the power of business education. While Stanger makes no secret that depending on the route you want to take an MBA may not be required, the knowledge, value, and network that business school provides is priceless. Elissa made mention that we need women to refashion business, and an MBA can provide the opportunity and infrastructure to support that. Read More: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Elissa Stanger
11. You can get back on track.
Journalist Danyel Smith is a titan in the media industry. While her background led to quite a nontraditional path in media, her passion and tenacity allowed her to power through. When she spoke with Her Agenda back in 2014, she shared a powerful message — “A left turn or a right turn is not a jump off the cliff. It’s a detour. And you can get back on track.” Read more: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Danyel Smith
12. Operate with integrity — everywhere.
As the founder and CEO of The ActOne Group Janice Bryant Howroyd had decades of information to share as the first Black woman to own a billion-dollar company. In her interview, she shared her upbringing, how she started her business, as well as anecdotes on forgiveness and mentorship. However, Janice’s most powerful advice was about operating with integrity. Janice says, “Never compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professionally.” Read more: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Janice Bryant Howroyd
13. Ask for what you want.
When Schmidt’s Naturals founder Jaime Schmidt joined Her Agenda in 2020, she talked about her passions and shared insights on entrepreneurship but Jaime’s most valuable piece of advice was an anecdote about negotiating with a supplier.. Jaime offered the quote, “Don’t be afraid to negotiate. A lot of people may not know you can get better terms if you ask for them.” Read more: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Jaime Schmidt
14. Vulnerability is essential in leadership.
In 2018 Sona Bajaria, was in the role of Vice President of Marketing for The Glenlivet & High End Irish Whiskies at Pernod Ricard USA. She spoke with Her Agenda to share her experience as an executive in the male-dominated spirits industry. In her interview, Bajaria spoke about how she joined the spirits industry, what the industry is doing to support inclusiveness, and what it takes to be a leader. Sona’s shining moment was in discussing the need for vulnerability. She says, “Being vulnerable lets people get to know you.”
Read more: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Sona Bajaria
15. Leave a legacy.
Emily Viner, was in the role of Vice President of Agency Management/Leadership Development at Guardian Life Insurance Company, when she shared her story with Her Agenda in 2014. Emily shared her childhood lessons, her mother’s experience after losing her father, and her thoughts on women in the workplace including championing women to learn financial services and operating with confidence in the workplace. One of Emily’s most cherished pieces of advice came when speaking about her two daughters in which she stated that she felt “empowered to leave a legacy” for them.
Read more: A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Emily Viner