The Rise of Millennials – Laura Jane Williams

With Millennials getting a pretty hard time in the press of late (cheers Simon Sinek) I wanted to do a series celebrating how AWESOME they can be. And boy have I kicked off the series with a peach of a human.  I am beyond delighted that the incredible author, blogger, influencer, teacher and all round babe Laura Jane Williams has agreed to take part. 

You may be aware of Laura from her stunning memoir Becoming – she is now gearing up to publish her second book Ice Cream for Breakfast (out April 20th!) and has just finished a regular column with Grazia magazine on all things dating.

Laura is surely the human antithesis of all negative press about Millennials – hard working, respectful, genuine and totally authentic. Her instagram account is one of my ABSOLUTE favourites: honestly, she makes selfies feel empowering and downright POETIC in my opinion.

As I’ve followed Laura over the last year or so, and watched her build her brand and establish her online ‘voice’, it felt imperative that I get her involved in the series.  I wanted to get her view on the Millennial Generation, a behind the scenes look at her career development and how she has used the internet to her advantage, and just be all round generally nosy on your behalf (you’re welcome!). And now over to Laura…

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Hello Laura! So, I’ve followed you online for a while, I’ve read your first book, your pieces in Grazia, your blog, am an avid fan of your Instagram, and I’ve noticed the fact you also teach! You’re so talented in so many areas, but I guess I’m interested in how you yourself define your job?

Ha! Okay, well, firstly: I thank you for the compliment. Cheers, doll! This past year in particular has been a real moment of, “Oh! This is what it was all for!” I worked so hard for no money and no eyes on my stuff for like, a decade, and then I turned thirty and there was the book and the column and all these bylines… I’m really trying to let myself enjoy it all. I’m incredibly proud of myself, because this has all been an exercise is absolute pig-headedness. My journalism teacher at university told me “good luck” when I said I wanted to make a living being myself…

As for defining my job? LOL. No idea, babe. I guess “writer”, when Uber drivers ask, but a more general “story-teller” behind closed doors. I just want to tell stories, in whatever medium suits each tale best. I’m kind of interested in the challenge of new things, too, so whereas before I was published I thought I’d want to write books forever, now I’ve done a few I’m looking around thinking, “Hmmmm… what else can I try?” I’m greedy for storytelling!

I LOVE THIS! Please can we anonymously send that teacher all your work?! In what main ways has the internet and social networking helped your career path? When did you start using the Internet as a career tool or was it more of an organic process?

I wouldn’t have a career without the internet and social networking. I just wouldn’t. I knew a long time ago that a publisher would only ever buy my work if I could prove there was an audience for it, and so since 2007 I have blogged and Tweeted and worked to build a community who think like I do and support me and so that when I did, finally, write a book, I had hard numbers to support my case that people would actually buy that book. Social media is how I promote my work, how I get inspired for my work, and how I make friends and find colleagues and peers and get the privilege of hearing other people’s stories, too. I’m “Team Internet” FOR SURE. I mean – that’s how we met, right? So it’s part career tool, but used very intuitively in a way that feels organic and natural, too.

Oh god YES! I am SO on Team Internet as well. I guess the challenge could be that being in a position where you use your social platforms for ‘work’ purposes and ‘personal’ purposes, how do you navigate the blurring of those lines and what impact does that have on your “work/life” balance?

Hmmm, good question. I treat anyone I’m connected with online as a friend, in many ways, so it feels like a very natural extension of myself to share things online – like, I trust my community with my life. I am absolutely #blessed with anyone who follows me… like, they get it. We’re a small army, but a loving, genuine one. So, pretty much I am online as I am off, and vice-versa. And if I wanna stop talking online for a bit, in the same way that I don’t always wanna hang out with a friend or go to the big party, that’s what I do! I don’t feel an obligation to live-stream my life… I only ever say something online if I have something to say, and it feels good to do it.

That’s a good philosophy to have. My biggest challenge in life is ‘switching off’ – what about you? Do you find it easy to “switch off”?

Yes and no. Lately I’ve kept my phone on a shelf in the other room as I’ve written, and holy shit the number of notifications I come back to after even just a few hours! It really makes me think, “Wow, to stay on top of this I must be checking my phone a LOT”. But the internet is like candy… I can eat and eat and eat, and then suddenly be like, “Yeah, I’m gonna drink a green juice” and I lay off the sugar for a little while, you know? There’s no big drama to it.

Do you ever detox from your social networks / have you ever found your use of them to be problematic in any way?

When I was in India, training to be a yoga teacher, I basically came offline – I just wanted to focus, you know? I don’t worry about doing that. I am still living a life even if it isn’t on the Internet! In fact, if you want my biggest secret: when I go offline, be it for a night or a few days, it’s normally because I’m doing something my mother wouldn’t approve of *smirks to camera*

Hahaha!! Amazing. Do you have a hidden personal account / alt account used solely for personal strife or moaning?!

Nah, man – that’s what texting my best friends is for!

How do you feel when people from an older generation have negative perceptions of Internet use or describe millennials as entitled or lazy?

I don’t really pay it any attention – I’m far too busy making a glorious life from all the internet has to offer us, working hard and enjoying myself as I do.

I genuinely think I love you. So before this gets too fan-girl weird, I’ll ask my final question: what advice would you give someone trying to follow in your footsteps in terms of how they present themselves online?

Add value, add value, dd value. Every Tweet, Insta-story, blog post… if it isn’t adding value – which is to say, making people laugh, or making people think – don’t post it. And I’d also say, don’t try to follow in my footsteps, either. Like, I’m figuring it out as I go along, too – we’re the guinea pig generation when it comes to the Internet. What’s going to be really exciting is seeing how the ten-year olds who are true digital natives build brands online. Watch them grow. We’re going to learn a lot from them as they become the new entrepreneurs.

YES!! Ahh – thank you SO much for being my first awesome guest on this series. Readers, if you’re not already following her, then Laura is ace on Twitter (@superlativelyLJ ) AND Insta (@superlativelylj) and you should follow her NOW!

Thanks for reading guys! To see more of me, follow me on Twitter @susieblues and on Instagram @susiebluesyy – I am extremely thirsty for followers. 

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