Sunday, 28 June 2015

Losing weight has been easy - now time to keep the momentum


I'm currently going through a determined period of weight loss, manly by personal judgement of when I'm hungry and how much I feel I need, rather than following any set diet. The weight loss is deliberately steady - I'm looking to lose 2 pounds per week for seven weeks in total before I go on holiday. The first couple of weeks have been easy, and I started two weeks ago today and I've lost 5 pounds so far. The steady decline in weight is something I've researched and the medical consensus on dieting is that your body reacts better to losing 1 or 2 pounds a week than at a faster rate.

The first two weeks have been based around cutting out the extras such as snacks between meals and grabbing a soft drink or chocolate bar as I'm passing the kitchen. This has worked alongside smaller breakfast portions and a big reduction in the amount of white bread I'm eating. I've done this in three areas - no toast for breakfast, lunch down from 4 to 2 slices of bread and having whole meal bread on some occasions. It was a simple change that I've mulled over for some time but I find that it leaves me feeling less bloated and ready for the day.

I think that the next two weeks will probably be the start of the tougher tests, as the initial focus and the impact of the initial changes recede. It's from here in that I need to start doing something else to keep up the momentum. I've started running again - it's been almost a year since I completed the Great North Run half marathon and my training stopped almost immediately after it. I was disappointed with my run and my time and I lost interest. This was exacerbated by the fact that I didn't get a place in this year's ballot and I've been out of training. I'm just looking at a run of approximately 3.2 miles twice a week. This won't bring about a major weight loss in itself but will burn up some of the calories I intake on those days.

And looking beyond the seven weeks, I want to control my weight rather than lose any more. If I keep on track with my goals then I'll have lost a stone over the course of this period. I think that I'll put a few pounds of it back on whilst on holiday but when I'm there it will be incredibly hot, I'll be swimming daily, walking long distances and running twice a week - it's just the food intake that will change!

So here goes, the start of another week and it's a 5-day week at my day job, so I'll be on the move all day. I find these days easier to at least keep the weight off because I'm standing up all day and I walk for several hours.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Stumbling across ideas and answers when looking for something else


I've just been listening to an episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage about serendipity and one of the themes struck me as rather useful-

It was regarding the fact that the research departments of some major companies were afforded 15% of their work time to pursue whatever projects their interest desired. And from this, many great discoveries were made that produced massive financial windfalls for their companies.

I was listening to this podcast as I was running (yes, it's started again) and this always gives me time to think about what I'm listening to. I related it back to my own experiences recently with setting up the business. I can chastise myself when I set out to do something, particularly on the internet, and end up going off at many tangents. But these tangents have brought mystery shopping and cashback sites to supplement my income.

And I'm sure that linked to the business launch there will be many more tangents into areas that just start out as something interesting I see and end up with previous finds.

My blog on estate agency matters - - often starts out this way. I'm just looking or reading and I see an article or idea that I explore and run with. The finished article doesn't always enter my mind until I've typed in the page - and the ideas can come back to me as I type and think about it.

So I think that I'll be less hard onysf every time I wander through the internet and end up finding something other than where I started. Because you just don't know where it could lead…

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Days of relative inactivity must stop


After a great Fathers Day and the photographs I took (see previous blog) I've had a couple of days if relative inactivity. Now I've been working for 8 hours a day in my employed role for the last two days but it's stopped me from getting in with the task in hand - making money.

That said, it's mainly the administrative side of things I've let slip, with the mystery shops, paid surveys and selling tasks in the PC having been left behind. I did manage to procure about 200 books for the princely sum of £3 yesterday so there is progress being made on this front. eBay is where this purchase originated and I'm on the lookout for joblots of books locally at a good price. The next task here is to add them to my inventory on Amazon to have them seen by the public and hopefully to make sales. I think that the sale of only one of these books will pay back the outlay and the mileage, and there will be some in there for my children, for the local playgroup and charity as well. So everyone wins, to a degree.

So tonight after work (another 8 hour shift) tomorrow morning and tomorrow evening will be set aside for catch-up as suspect my email inbox will be showing over 200. And about half will be money making opportunities from survey companies or mystery shopping companies. Looking forward to it!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Coastal daytime photography captures light and colour


I spent the day at the coast with my family yesterday. In between the Father's Day celebrations, I got the time to take a few photographs and practise my skills in a lighter setting than I've been recently working-

In this first photo, I've tried to capture the essence of the fishing village Staithes. The village is quite unspoilt by modern life and us a balance between old-world fishermen and new-world Britain In Bloom entrant. This photo by the river, I think, captures some of both worlds.

Also in Staithes, I was drawn to the lines created by the telephone wires and how this framed the seagulls. I have studied leading lines in my photography and I always find the addition of lines to an image an interesting feature. When the lines are crossed, as in the image above I like the fact that they seem to converge to a common point.

This image has really come away from the darkness I often capture. I was taken by the lightness of the promenade in Whitby and the vibrant colours of the beach hits. I took photos in both directions, but having the sun project the shadows of the hut peaks onto the promenade lifted the image to another level.

Now I often avoid the sky as the main feature in a daytime photo because I find that it either looks washed out or the imagery is too dark. I've tried several different filters and I've yet to find much joy with them. In this shot, I didn't mind the buildings darkened a little and the large clouds made the photo for me.

This is my last photo of today's blog and it's Whitby Abbey. I've tried to fill the large gaps in the windows at the front of the Abbey with parts from the Abbey behind. I think that this adds depth and interest to the image.

Friday, 19 June 2015

A feeling of refreshed positivity!


I've worked up with an overwhelming feeling of positivity this morning. I'm really 100% sure why this is, but I'm liking it.

What's changed?
Well, in the two days since I was last on here, there have been a few changes but they all feel positive and can help me to look forward. One of the ways I've been making money and looking to continue making money when the business starts, is buying and selling books. I have an eBay account (who doesn't?) and an Amazon seller account t that I sell these through. The issue has been increasing my stock from 100 books to 1,000 books. Not unlike an issue with stock that I'll be facing when I'm an estate agent. Without giving away too much detail I've started to find areas where I can increase my stock by the hundreds without a massive expense.

I've also signed up for another mystery shopping company this week. Things have slowed down with mystery shops (although I still wouldn't describe them as slow.) I felt as though another company on my books was a positive step and would give me the opportunity to learn how they operate, experience more companies and earn some more money.

And I think I've found the doors for my office! The doors I need are almost £250 on B&Q, so I've been looking for an alternative at a better price. I've found some on at a current bid of £30 and - although I'll have to rent a van - the savings are huge. This will complete the office in terms of structure and allow me to furnish and move in.

So onwards and upwards!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Taking stock as the plans form for the next 3 months


As you can see from the ticking timeline at the top of all my posts, the intended start date for my business has been and gone, but don't be disheartened - I'm not! The new date will probably be somewhere around a year late, but because the progress in the original 245 days was slow, the build up to the new intended opening will be jam-packed with the progress I make on the mad run towards the stsrt line.

It's time for me to take a brief look back over the 261 days since I started this blog and the things that have changed.

Personal life
I started this blog in what was the 40th year of my life and it brought about a big change in how I looked at the world and my place in it. I entered the audition process for Mastermind and The Apprentice and I got quite far in both processes. I started training, entered and comets the Great North Run half marathon. I'm now looking at the next set of achievements for the time between now and next year. Of course a lot of these are related to the business, and having things in place to generate an income for me when the business is up and running.

My own business
The steps towards achieving this have been small and background so far, but the most significant is the almost completion of converting my 2nd garage into a usable home office. I'm just short of some new garage doors, a desk and a bit of home comforts to have it ready. The home comforts include getting pictures and ornaments out of my loft and into the office to make it a little more comfortable and pleasant.

I have started a blog on my local area and post to it about every 7-10 days to keep an interest in the local market and possibly appeal to any investors or buyers on what will be my patch. Content marketing is becoming more and more important and having an audience and a SEL presence on the internet will allow me to point my content in the direction of my website and services when the situation arises.

Alongside the business I will have things like these blogs (6 in total at the moment) my photography and the website ( to bring in some much needed money while I'm busy taking on properties. The website is up and running and I'm updating the latest news on a regular basis. The section that will have training sessions for estate agents needs writing and editing and this is on the to do list but hasn't been completed. As is the editing and final chapters of my book on how to buy a property - the second Kindle book I will publish agree the companion How To Sell Your House-

How to sell your house: What estate agents don't tell you by Steven Thompson

I'm looking forward, but these writing tasks and the final set up of the office need to happen soon.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Reading again gives me broad ideas but no exact policies


I've just finished reading the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi and this became a little bit of a slog in the middle of the book, as I've previously mentioned in my blog (

I probably didn't give the book enough credit at the time, and you need to take the book as a whole to be able to fully understand and appreciate it. The overriding theme of the book relates to how he interacts with the world and hopes the world returns their interaction with him. And I understand that Gandhi looks at the world with patient and forgiving eyes - which will come as no surprise to anyone.

For an estate agent and budding entrepreneur the lesson is to ensure that you treat people the way that you want to be treated. I know this is a well-worn phrase and probably seems as obvious as the conclusion that Gandhi is patient and forgiving. But there's a difference between stating this and actually doing it. I once read a book called Think Like A Tycoon by W. Hill. It's related to property and there are a few ideas in there worth looking at. One thing he states is that it's not worth the time and energy in chasing people through the courts for small amounts of money or revenge. The negativity eats you up and affects other parts of your business and your life. I draw parallels here with Gandhi. Having the mindset of peace, patience and forgiveness in every business transaction is a great place to start.

For example, when speaking to a solicitor in trying to push through a property sale there is no point in being impatient. Being assertive and explaining why you are chasing up the completion are different to displays of impatience.

After the book on Gandhi, I am now reading Al Dente - Madness, Beauty & The Food of Rome by David Winner. This book is an interesting look at varying aspects of food and how it relates to Roman culture over the centuries. The feel of the book is about the love of food and passion for life itself. This comes through in every page and I hope to recreate this in every interaction I have with my customers when I open my business.

To have passion and understanding in everything you do makes a massive difference to how you and your customers experience and enjoy your time together. I hope that reading these books is a positive influence on the way I conduct myself in my business and personal life.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

London photographs on a trip away


Another interesting time with my photography came about after carrying my camera around on a London day out with my family.

First stop was Wembley Stadium and I found that the tour offered a glimpse or two for photo opportunities.

I simply loved the framing of this photograph. The ground staff were busy getting the pitch ready for the FA Cup Final on Saturday, and the sign, lawn mower and hose felt a perfect staging for the rest of the photo. I liked the contrast between the large swathes of green and red and felt that in the bright sunlight, these balanced well.

I saw these shapes and lines in the library just outside of Wembley and I thought that the hundreds of lines in different directions really made a good composition. I tried to capture just this building, as it had enough going on without adding any other elements. And I think it sort of worked.

The next two have followed my theme of capturing scenes as the sun starts to set. I've tried to work hard with reducing the shutter speed and darkening the foreground, whilst retaining some clarity in the sky above. I think that the moody sky, and darkened backgrounds add to the gothic theatre of St Paul's Cathedral and continues my theme of silhouetting foregrounds and moody sunsetting skies.

Lastly on this trip is this dark image of the City of London. It wasn't much after the St. Paul's photographs, but the fact that I was now surrounded by tall buildings changed the light dramatically. This photo is in the same state it was taken and I like the metallic element in the photo - it adds a real depth to the scene.