If you wake up each workday with the nationally syndicated morning show The Breakfast Club, you already know Angela Yee. Aside from being the lone female host, our #WCW is also often the measured voice of reason alongside the more reckless DJ Envy and Charlamagne The God.
For the Brooklyn native, whose Twitter profile reads, “If I had to choose, I’d rather be hated than a hater,” it’s all strategic; a mix of compassion and savvy that has served her well in becoming a trusted voice to their millions of listeners.
“I am the type of person who always takes into consideration what I say before I’m about to say it, because I understand the implications of saying something on the radio—that’s forever,” Yee tells The Glow Up. “Truthfully, I count from 10 backwards in my head before I say anything ... there are times people actually want to try to get a reaction out of you, and the best reaction sometimes is no reaction. That’s been really effective, as far as I’m concerned.”
What else has been effective? Leveraging her many talents and developing a “side hustle”—a skill set Yee learned out of necessity after graduating from Wesleyan with an English degree and parlaying an internship at Wu Tang Management into her first job as assistant to the CEO, followed by stints at Virgin Records, Nile Rodgers’ distribution label and Eminem’s Shady Ltd.
She now calls those early experiences a “boot camp” into the music business, where she learned the industry from all angles—and learned how to navigate unpredictable scenarios and personalities (a skill that would serve her well later as a radio host). But the key to Yee’s success has always been marketing herself.
“Marketing has always been important to everything I do, because even with no budget, I was always able to market myself and whatever I had going on.”
For instance, Yee was one of the first wave of “Twitter-lebrities,” harnessing the platform early on to self-promote and build a loyal following.
“I got Nicki Minaj to join. I remember telling T.I. about it—he didn’t know what it was,” she laughs. “I told Ryan Leslie; Jalen Rose would say that I’m the reason that he got on Twitter. So for me, that was just a great way to promote myself and what I was doing without having any budget at all.”
These days, Yee has a bit more budget; but despite her success, she’s still cultivating multiple interests—and income streams.
“Side hustles have always been very important to me, because I have so many of them,” she says. “I’ve had side hustles since the first job I ever had, because it was just a necessity for me, financially. It’s one thing to complain about not having money, but you can’t just complain; you have to do something about it. And if that means you have to go and get your side hustle on, then that’s what you have to do.”
Her latest hustles? Angela Yee’s Book Club, which has garnered a collaboration in Barnes & Noble and partnered with Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books. A current favorite? I Can’t Date Jesus, by Michael Arceneaux, a regular contributor to The Root.
Yee is also building upon the 2017 opening of her own franchise of Styles P’s Juices for Life in her native Brooklyn by launching a pressed-juice subscription service that debuted this year at AfroPunk to rave reviews. Yee, who credits juicing with fueling her with the energy to keep up with her early morning schedule, says her goal is to give healthy options to those who don’t have access to juice bars in their communities.
“A lot of times, we want to be healthier, but it’s hard to get those options if [they’re] not in your neighborhood and it’s not convenient, so I want to make it as convenient as possible,” she says.
And as if that’s not enough, Yee is currently also promoting her love of the side hustle with Power 105.1 and energy drink Amp Energy Organic with “The Search for the Ultimate Side Hustlers,” a national search for the five most unique side hustlers in the categories of food, fashion, beauty, art, or music. The lucky finalist will showcase their side hustles live at Power 105.1's Powerhouse NYC 2018 in October. Speaking on the particular importance of the side hustle for black women, she tell us:
“I think it is important for us, because sometimes, we put our dreams on hold and things that we really want to do, just because we feel like we have these other responsibilities that take precedence. But I think side hustles are really important for black women, in particular, because for so long, we haven’t been getting equal pay, and we haven’t been raises the way that we should—we haven’t even been getting the starting salaries that we should. So I think it is important for us, just to make sure that we do these things independently, and make ourselves so great and so valuable that we can’t be denied.”
So, what are Yee’s tip for making your hustle flow?
“Your side hustle should be something that you really care about and are passionate about—that’s what I’ve always managed to do and find.”
“Do your research. Is there anyone else out there with the same idea or business model? How do you stand out or do it better? Being aware of what else is out there and differentiating yourself from the masses will help you succeed in the long run.”
“Starting or growing a side hustle can be stressful when you think about everything that needs to happen to get it off the ground. Don’t let that deter you from getting started or realizing the potential of what the company could be. Set realistic goals and prioritize.”
“Dedicate a certain amount of time per week to working on your side hustle. It can be as much or as little as you’d like. Figure out what works best for you and your schedule, and have the discipline to stay on track.”
“It’s amazing to me how many people can’t even use the proper grammar, spelling, punctuation or any of that in a simple proposal or email. ... if you’re trying to get a job, and you send a resume and there are all kinds of errors in it, then I’m thinking that you’re being careless. With autocorrect, there’s really no excuse.”
“Being an entrepreneur takes hustle. The problem is, many people think hustle is about becoming a workaholic. In reality, hustle is an act of focus. It’s not about doing more, it’s about concentrating on the things that you need to do, in order to move your business forward.”
Ignore the detractors and naysayers and, no matter how big or how small your goal, persevere and don’t give up. ... Not every idea will immediately take off. Stick with it and keep working hard, and you’ll see the payoff soon enough.”
The Glow Up tip: Got a winning side hustle? Amp Energy Organic’s “Ultimate Side Hustlers” contest runs run through Sept. 16. To enter, visit Power 105.1's website to submit a text description that explains your side hustle (photos and videos are also encouraged) and what makes it special.