There’s no doubt that Kelly Williams Brown is one of Portland’s most well-known writers, especially since she’s also the author of the highly successful 2013 book “Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps” which has essentially become “the book” that’s given a voice to her generation.
About Kelly Williams Brown
Since Studying journalism at Loyola University, Kelly Williams Brown has written for the Statesman Journal in Salem Oregon, advertising copy for local Portland Oregon advertising firms, and columns for the Daily Beast.
Brown has lived in Portland (on again, off again) since 1996, she’s also split her time between Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Washington DC, working in a wide variety of jobs including as a cocktail waitress on Bourbon Street, and it was her life experiences that gave her the stories that she’s written for publications like the Boston Globe, Esquire magazine, Vogue, cosmopolitan and the New York Times.
Besides being well known as a writer, Kelly Williams Brown has also appeared on The Today Show and she’s become a highly sought-after speaker for events like the TED Talks.
Adulting is a book that came out at the right place, at the right time; many have called Brown a Dear Abby of sorts for the Millennial Generation because her quick wit and insights into the challenges that Millennials face with growing up during these times has led them to search for advice online. They’ve found Adulting to be an honest, funny, book with real insights and “sage” advice that they can relate to, but to be honest, her book is also read and loved by people from all generations, not just Millennials.
Like Dear Abby, Brown knows how to dispense helpful advice that’s memorable and shareable among twenty-somethings and those entering their 30’s.
Along with her convictions, Ms. Brown is not without contradictions: Step No. 83 is “Make a dope cheese plate” (she sometimes reverts to the vernacular of a “Girls” episode), but step No. 275 is “Anything that tastes really good — think twice about.” On the subject of office romances, she’s stern (No. 163: “Live your life as though everyone in the office has plastic, featureless doll crotches”) but forgiving (No. 162: “Having a poorly considered liaison with a co-worker is the chickenpox of the working life, so you may as well get it over with”).
Brown’s success with Adulting can be attributed to her mother, an English teacher, who remembered her many great ideas that she’d had over the years and encouraged her to put those ideas into a book.
Her parents purchased a ticket for her to go to the Willamette Writers Conference back in 2011 where she was able to go to meet with editors, agents, and prepare a proposal.
Once she finished her 70-page book proposal, Brown’s book was eventually sold at auction and Adulting was published by Grand Central Publishing in 2013.
Another thing that really helped her build notoriety was launching her blog (adultingblog.com) which shared many of the tips and advice that she offers in her book.
Like Julie Powell who also started a famous blog, and wrote Julie to Julia, Brown’s blog quickly caught on with Millennials and the following that she developed on her blog also led to the success of her book and other projects.
Her book resonates with all generations; thanks to the success of Adulting, and the television show of the same name, she’s been able to translate that success into other books including her second book “Gracious” which is set to be published next month.
Life Coach For Millennials?
Thanks to the success of Adulting, Brown has also become a “life coach” for Millennials and many colleges around the United States have invited her to speak to their graduating senior classes so they can be better prepared to leave college and enter the “real world”.
She recently spoke at Wright State University on March 8th to their graduating class and was well received since Adulting has also been one of the go-to books that parents give to their children after college because the book tackles practical topics in a fun manner like: how to do a budget, tackle your taxes, and be a good roommate.
Besides speaking at Universities across the United States, Brown has also spoken at NASA, and had the opportunity to speak with former President Obama about student loans while he was still in office.
In spite of her success she’s remained grounded and has also spoken out about issues affecting Portland like gentrification, and the need for more middle-class jobs in the area, as Portland has been becoming more like Seattle in recent years, attracting high-paid tech jobs, while the middle class has moved away.
Yes, it’s true that other writers from generations past have written timeless advice to their generations about growing up and surviving during those times, but what makes this generation different than those from the 20th Century is that Millennials are not following a plan (job/house/marriage/kids) and doing the same things like their Parents and Grand Parents did in years past.
In 2017 many Millennials are opting for focusing on their careers first, travel, and having life experiences while they put off marriage, buying a home and other “big” life experiences that their elders had when they were in their 20’s or 30’s.
It’s true that some may say that Millennials are slower to “grow up” than other generations, especially since many Millennials still live at home, and enjoy playing video games, but considering that the human brain has been found to not be fully developed until a person reaches their 30’s, it’s fair to say that we don’t really “grow up”.
Thanks to Kelly Williams Brown, Millennials have found a voice for their generation, it’s clear that she’s going to be someone that they turn to as they grow older and we can expect to see more from her in the years to come.