“The future belongs to the super-techies, the conscientious, and the thick-skinned.”

"The future belongs to the super-techies, the conscientious, and the thick-skinned." | Modern Mrs Darcy

I’m fascinated by cultural trends and generational shifts. Will knows this, and brought home this highly quotable line from a recent conference he attended.

The topic was the future workplace. While it would be foolish to take one proclamation from a single presenter on a conference stage as gospel, I think it’s an interesting theory, and worth exploring.

The future belongs to the super-techies.

We need dreamers, but we also need do-ers: skilled workers who can bring ideas to life. Coding and design work are in high demand these days, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon—especially for the specialized, high-skill work that’s difficult to outsource.

If you (like me) couldn’t code your way out of a cardboard box, take heart: being able to put technology to use is almost as useful as being able to design it yourself. (Phew.)

The future belongs to the conscientious.

Simply put, conscientiousness is the ability to regulate and direct impulses. The famous Marshmallow Test measures conscientiousness; it is one of the traits in the Big 5 theory of personality.

Conscientiousness is largely innate, though it can be cultivated to some degree. We would all do well to cultivate a bit more of it, because numerous academic studies show it to be a top predictor of positive outcomes in all facets of life

Conscientious people are good at getting things done. They are reliable and persistent. They plan purposefully, and follow through. Conscientious people live longer and are happier at work.

Innovation takes a good bit of dreaming, but somebody has to give those ideas legs. The conscientious will be the ones to do it.

The future belongs to the thick-skinned.

This is the trait that is most evident to me, and the one that comes the hardest.

Innovation is hard, and is inevitably linked with failure. Those who seek change make themselves vulnerable to questions, criticism, and outright contempt.

Because our world is moving online, this means innovators are subjected to censure in that same public, unfiltered sphere.

Most of us are vulnerable to critic’s math, the formula that says 1 insult + any number of compliments = 1 insult. I certainly am. This makes having an appropriately thick skin even more important.

The solution is simple, if not easy: keep your head down and do the work. The future belongs to those who do.

Making My Traditional(ish) Office Job Work

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Today we’re continuing the How She Does It guest post seriesToday’s post comes from Victoria Easter Wilson. Join me in welcoming her to the blog! 

My entry into the traditional workforce was just that, pretty traditional.

A new college graduate, I assumed the world to be my oyster. That is, until I began submitting resumes. The first job I landed felt a bit more like sand inside the oyster’s shell: small, gritty, and mundane. It was a major reality check.

Months into that first job, however, the department where I worked downsized, giving me the perfect opportunity to find a new position. Not long after, I was hired on at a nationally prominent online marketing firm. My employer took a chance hiring a fresh graduate, and I wanted to give them no reasons to regret their decision.

The company I work for is unique in that we exclusively provide web marketing services to law firms. It may sound odd, but the niche is actually thriving! Marketing law practices is a bit of a creative challenge, but the work has sharpened my mind and taught me diligence. What I love most about my job is working alongside top-notch colleagues. Our culture is one that builds teammates up and, so, the entire company flourishes. I can honestly say I leave the office each day feeling a bit more accomplished than when I left.

Several months into my shiny, new career I got married. And several months after that, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant.

Reality check #2.

I worked until the day I had my daughter, literally! I reported for work on Tuesday and delivered my daughter on Wednesday. (Talk about cutting it close!) Following a 9-week maternity leave, I returned to work full time.

One of the first challenges work-outside-the-home moms face is childcare. Through a few Facebook status updates, my husband and I found a wonderful in-home babysitter for our daughter, a local mom with a background in childhood education, whose fees were comparable to surrounding daycares. For those seeking alternatives to more institutional forms of childcare, I highly suggest reaching out to your network for recommendations. We couldn’t be happier with our arrangement.

Though pickups, dropoffs, and leaving work early for the off-sick day require some juggling, keeping the commitment to breastfeed my daughter has been the most challenging. Since my body apparently thinks I gave birth to a village of ravenous babies, I must adhere to a rigorous pumping schedule! The work I do is time-sensitive and fairly demanding. It can be frustrating to interrupt my workflow to pump. Thanks to my iPhone, I usually catch up on emails or do some industry reading during the downtime. At my office, I lock myself away in a back bathroom. I can easily set my breast pump on the sink, next to an outlet, and not worry about unexpected interruptions.

Several months after reentering the workforce, I decided that a full-time schedule didn’t jive with my personal goals a mother. Anne’s helpful book, How She Does It, was truly a guiding light as I navigated post-baby career moves. Standing on the solid reputation I had built at the company over my two-year tenure, I approached my employer and asked if I could take up a part-time schedule. The company was happy I wanted to maintain ties, and I was happy I could spend more time with my daughter while continuing an income stream for my family. My job still bears the hallmarks of traditional, corporate America, but with the flexibility that I wanted.

At the time of writing, my daughter is 9 months old and we are thriving on this part-time arrangement. I could see myself returning to full-time work once my daughter and any future siblings are school-aged, but for the moment our family is comfortable taking my career one step at a time. It is such a gift to continue sharpening my job skills, but invest the bulk of my time parenting through the little years. I am deeply grateful for an employer who is willing to change with me, even as my daughter changes.

Yes—my work life has moved away from tradition, but that works for me.

My new little book page pumpkin.

How to turn a paperback novel into a book page pumpkin. This is a highly satisfying DIY: fun, fast, easy, and the results are adorable.

(Warning: if you’re horrified at the idea of ripping a book to shreds in the name of a cutesy DIY project, you should maybe stop reading right about now.)

As a book lover but not a literary purist, I’ve been wanting to try my hand at some kind of book art for ages. I have my sights set on beautiful (and intimidating) Christmas creations, but somehow the stakes seem much lower for fall crafting.

Fall, as a general rule, is forgiving. And pumpkins are round-ish. And with those two encouraging thoughts, I dove in.

I started by picking up a copy of Shopaholic Ties the Knot at my library’s book sale for $0.25. My first choice—based on size, shape, and my visceral reaction to gutting a perfectly decent paperback—was a trashy romance novel. But then I realized that even if you hack a book to pieces and stretch it like a fan, you can still read the words. My little book page pumpkin could very well end up on the kitchen table if it turned out cute enough, and I didn’t want my kids reading sex scenes—even fragmented ones—over breakfast.

(I still haven’t read anything by Sophie Kinsella, but I fully intend to one of these days. Sounds like summer reading to me.)

How to turn a paperback novel into a book page pumpkin. This is a highly satisfying DIY: fun, fast, easy, and the results are adorable.

Once I had my book in hand, I free-handed a pumpkin template, based on that little ceramic pumpkin in the picture above.

Then it was time to get started in earnest.

I splayed the book out wide, right down the middle, and traced my pumpkin template onto the book’s pages. Working 10-15 pages at a time, I used sturdy craft scissors to cut out the pumpkin shape.

(Note: remove the book’s cover first. I didn’t, because I expected the cover to give my pumpkin shape and body. It turns out that the cover just gets in the way.)

How to turn a paperback novel into a book page pumpkin. This is a highly satisfying DIY: fun, fast, easy, and the results are adorable.

It worked just fine, but took longer than I thought it would. If you’re the planning-ahead sort, I highly recommend a little $4 X-acto knife instead of scissors.

(Related: I found you can really manhandle the book and it still won’t fall apart.)

When I was done cutting, I stood the pages on end and fanned them out to form a globed shape, then used a hot glue gun to secure. (Basically, I used the hot glue to attach page 1 to page 300.) Photo squares or glue dots would also work just fine for a book this size.

My newly-formed pumpkin looked a little lopsided at this point. I fluffed it a bit by using my fingers to spread the pages out evenly, then reinforced my work in a dozen or so places with thin lines of carefully applied hot glue.

To tint it gently orange, I gave it a quick spray with Krylon spray paint (in Bauhaus gold, because that’s what I had on hand).

After I finished with the spray paint, I grabbed a twig out of the backyard, snipped it down to size, and attached with hot glue. Then I added a bow for good measure.

This little pumpkin is now happily sitting in my entry, with a velvet pumpkin and a real one from Trader Joe’s, on a little demilune table the Nester inspired me to drag up from the basement. (I am loving her 31 days series on vignettes. This is my favorite post so far, for obvious reasons.)

How to turn a paperback novel into a book page pumpkin. This is a highly satisfying DIY: fun, fast, easy, and the results are adorable.

Now I have Christmas book crafting on the brain. Trees, angels, and ornaments here I come. Wish me luck?

Have you seen any book are projects? I’d love to hear all about them in comments.

Links I love.

 True friends are always together in spirit

true friends are always together in spirit

• “I’ve thought about growing out my bangs,” a friend once said to me. “But how will people know I’m interesting?” (My stylist keeps talking me out of growing out mine. Is this why?)

10 “grammar rules” it’s okay to break (sometimes). (Best line: “As far as I’m concerned, ‘whom’ is a word that was invented to make everyone sound like a butler.”)

• These dreamy new Anne of Green Gables editions are going to turn me into a collector.

19 magical bookshops every book lover must visit. The names of these towns are almost as good as the names of the shops themselves.

• Why don’t authors compete? “Authors don’t try to eliminate others from the shelf, in fact, they seek out the most crowded shelves they can find to place their books. They eagerly pay to read what everyone else is writing.”

Most popular from the blog:

What I’m reading: spiritual memoirs and historical fiction. (If you want to build your TBR list, this is the post for you.)

5 favorite Jane Austen-inspired romantic comedies. It’s the weekend; maybe you could curl up with one of these?

Disorganization: it’s EXHAUSTING.

The 3-book giveaway is still open, and check out today’s great Kindle deals here. So much good stuff—especially for a weekend. (I’ll tell you here so you don’t miss it: All the Light We Cannot See is $4.99 today, compared to $11. If you’ve been dying to read this new release and are still #89 on the library wait list,  here’s your chance.)

UPDATE: Hold the phone. Lena Dunham’s brand-new book Not that Kind of Girl is on sale for $4.99 for Kindle. (I haven’t read it. Should I?)

Have a great weekend!