Episode 06 – Kyran Weir: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

Kyran is a talented graphic designer, animator and illustrator who currently is putting his skills to use to create artwork, and engage with the community, for some of the UK’s top confectionery brands.

On top of this, he volunteers his creativity to support Oxfam Bookstores across York with their designs, bookmarks and publications, as well as lending a hand time to time with the local community independent cinema and volunteering to create some of their graphics, logos and branding.

Outside of design, Kyran is a keen photographer, gamer and loves to watch films.

img_0066

What makes Kyran so extraordinary? Kyran is creative, has a fantastic imagination and is a lively and social character that everyone quickly warms to. At just twenty eight he has already travelled to over 48 incredible cities including trekking for ten weeks across Costa Rica, lived in four (soon to be five) countries, and is a brilliant cat-dad and husband.

He approaches work in a very different way to a lot of people, and his passion truly shines when he is applying his skill set to something he loves.

He has a natural curiosity, love for life, and a no-fear approach to trying something new, which is why he is probably so good at packing up his life into a few suitcases and moving to new places!

Kyran is soon going to be launching his own graphic design agency, and putting his everything into something he loves. It’s inspiring to watch this journey unfold.

So here are his answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

My wife, my cats, eating out in good restaurants, travelling, gaming, watching films. Okay, I could go on as many things make me happy which I guess is very lucky.

In a nutshell, I love my family, entertainment, socialising and being creative.

What book had the biggest impact on your life?

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris

It made me work harder but also smarter, and it’s fantastic to read all about the people who really are living their best life and at the top of their respective fields.

It taught me that four good hours in a day can produce better quality work than eight bad hours.

Apply yourself, work hard and produce work of quality not quantity.

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

‘Practice choosing discomfort’

It is a way to become more disciplined. Don’t choose the easy route (which is my natural and preferred path!)

I am not saying I am good at this yet, but it’s something I am working towards.

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

I like to look at motivational quotes, Ted Talks and look at other designers work across Instagram, Dribbble and Pinterest.

What inspires you?

Great Artists – Tom Haugomat, Mark Conlan, Oli Moss. My wife. My colleagues who work with me in the studio.

What are your top three priorities?
  1. Die without regrets
  2. See the world
  3. Love my wife, cats and family

I am not massively interested in traditional success in the sense of a big car, three houses and top-level career. What I want is to be happy, experience every opportunity that comes my way, and see the world not only whilst I am young, but continually throughout all of my life.

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

I am a laidback guy.

People think it when they initially meet me but it couldn’t be more wrong.

I am not great in a crisis, and get easily stressed about the little things, and can be wound up by my friends really easily, however at the same time I am very easy going and so people often confuse the two.

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value / had most impact?
  1. Manual Camera – Pentax K100. I wanted to get into film photography and this camera has been a fantastic way to experience and discover more about taking photos in a more traditional way. I took it to Cuba with me where I got some fantastic shots.
  2. Audible Subscription. I love audio books, they are a way to make doing boring jobs easier, motivate yourself, and learn more.
Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do?

Anyone can do anything it’s just about putting time into it. YouTube is a great resource for learning to design.

Don’t think you instantly need to have your own ‘style’. Instead take influence from other peoples, copy their work, and learn how to do it until you find your own, it will come. Learn from people better than you. Design is just your thoughts and ideas, put down on paper and made real.

I would say you need to be able to also use Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects if you want to design for a living.

What are you most proud of?

Teaching myself to design, illustrate and animate. I didn’t do a degree or a professional course to learn, but instead dedicated hours and hours to it around whatever job I was doing at the time.

I am still learning every day, and so this often means waking up between 5-6am to get in an hour or two before work of practice, and luckily I now get to spend a lot of time at work creating, but it’s a never ending journey.

I have found something I love to do and managed to do it for a living. I would recommend you do the same, and you won’t work a day in your life, but don’t worry if you are on a long journey there.

It took me eight years, doing jobs in five different areas and industries, to discover and then build up the skills to do what I am doing now. Your time will come, just work hard for it.

In three months I am about to embark on the next big adventure in my career. Setting up my own design business. I just need to make it a success now.

An unusual habit of yours?

When I game (Xbox) I grind my teeth, my dentist hates it. It has meant I now have a problem with lockjaw as well. Not good.

What do you do every single day?

I listen to music without fail.

I am currently a bit obsessed with The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding. It’s a great album, you should check it out.

Thanks Kyran, perhaps it is about time I checked out Audible, and discovered more about YouTube tutorials!

His Key Advice:

  • You often don’t instantly land in a job you love, but the journey is all part of the amazing experience to get there.
  • Anyone can do anything if they put enough time into it.
  • Learn from people better than you
  • Audible is great for discovering new books, podcasts and more
  • Try to produce more work of quality, rather than volumes of lower standard work in a higher quantity.

If you want to see more of Kyran’s designs, you can follow him on Instagram here.

Episode 05 – Will Paddison: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

Will is a talented photographer, graphic designer and community manager for some of the UK’s most loved and top confectionery brands. He is additionally a really talented musician having played for over ten years now.

On top of the above, Will is hugely into fitness and well-being. He practices mixed martial arts, attends regular gym sessions and will give anything active a go.

He has worked really hard to be in a career and role he absolutely loves. He strongly believes that people should find a role that taps into their passions, and they will be hugely rewarded for doing what they do best, every single day.

18619982_10159234352340355_3937132311126920725_n

What makes Will so extraordinary? Will is driven, direct and hugely goal-orientated. His interview is the most concise of the series, and I think that is a perfect reflection of him as a person. Show up, give it your all, but then move on and master the next thing because time waits for no one.

His creativity and passion for his art is clear from the work he produces daily. To be a successful community manager, engaging with people across the world for top confectionery brands, is an incredible achievement at a young age.

He is also incredibly warm, supportive and open. Not something you often see in someone with a direct, fast-paced nature, but is so natural to Will.

I never doubt that if Will commits to something he will put 110% into it. Especially if it’s for someone else.

So here are Will’s answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

That’s a really deep question to start with! There’s no one thing that really does it for me. Helen (Will’s Fiancé) being happy, my family being happy. Just seeing happiness in my friends, family and fiancé. I get joy out of their joy.

What book had the biggest impact on your life?

Probably potentially:

‘Gary Chucks’ Crushing it’

He is an entrepreneur in America who basically tells you to stop making excuses and get it done. It’s outrageously good.

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

You’re going to die, do something about it.

No one is going to do it for you.

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

On a small scale, go and wash my hands.

It’s a really good way to just reset, cleanse everything away and start afresh.

I also keep a pretty detailed and organised one-note. It’s not romantic or elegant to look at, but it has all my goals and keeps me on track.

What inspires you?

Lot of things inspire me. Seeing incredible work from other people, whether it is Photoshop skills from Boss Logic or music from brilliant musicians.

I am inspired in many ways, and for this, I am very grateful.

What are your top three priorities?
  • Family wellbeing. Growing up, my mum always worked hard to provide for us, and so I work hard to be able to provide for my family too. Give something back.
  • Being healthy is so important. I get a lot of fulfilment from exercise, feeling in shape and looking after my body. I regularly go to the gym, take part in MMA classes, foot golf. Anything to feel active really.
  • Professional satisfaction. My dad has always said anyone can do a job they don’t like, so put your effort into only doing stuff you love. It’s a cheesy quote but I really believe in, ‘do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’.
What’s the biggest misconception of you?

More often than not people get me up front, I think I am a pretty open book.

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value / had most impact?
  • Engagement ring
  • I don’t really buy for myself if it doesn’t serve a functional purpose. The only way I really treat myself is through buying good food! Seriously. But the second thing this year would have to be Helen’s bike. She’s always wanted one, and this gives her so much happiness it makes me happy.
Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do?
  • You’ve got to be skilled, find what you’re good at and work at it. You need Photoshop, photography skills etc..
  • Don’t limit your creativity, I hear it too often where people say they are not creative. Everyone is creative it’s just about when and where you apply it.
What are you most proud of?

I came from a single parent household, where my mum worked incredibly hard for everything we had. I will never forget that. I know what my mum went through to give us what we have. I work hard daily to have what I have now, and won’t ever stop working hard to do better.

I love the journey of working hard and putting in my all as much as the results.

An unusual habit of yours?

I have so many unusual habits. Just running through them all now.

I get really close to my food, like Helen loves to mock me for how close I get to it, and I finish it so fast Helen is left eating for another 10 minutes.

What do you do every single day?
  • Be grateful every day. Never forget that just to be born it’s a 14 million to 1 possibility, so make sure you take that opportunity you had and make something out of it.
  • Eat too much.

Thank you Will, this has been a real learning curve and give me a lot of food (not literally although I did end up hungry after our chat!) for thought.

His Key Advice:

  • You and only you are responsible for your own success. Show up, put in effort, and succeed.
  • Everyone is creative, you may just have not found your thing yet.
  • Be grateful everyday.
  • Family is incredibly important. Seeing others happy can make you instantly happy.

34337222_10160933110495355_1615788257491025920_o

You can follow Will over on Instagram here. To see more of his work, day to day life and thoughts!

Episode 04 – Steve Larkins: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

Steve is a unique performer, who currently tours the world delivering his one of a kind, theatrical salute to Freddie Mercury and the music of Queen.

You can see one of his shows if you are lucky enough to be on board one of the scheduled luxury and leading cruise ships of the world that he’s booked to appear on.

In addition to the above, Steve is a warm and caring family man. He puts family and people first, and this is clearly evident from the way people are always so excited and eager to see him when he’s visiting.

12234933_938369472900805_2304109319755275180_n

What makes Steve so extraordinary? I wanted to interview Steve for several reasons. He is clearly an incredibly talented man musically and creatively, and I know that his success as a performer would be hugely inspiring to anyone else looking to break into the industry.

His journey from someone with low self-confidence, to a performer in front of thousands is motivating, and perhaps can help others on that long journey to confidence and self-belief.

On top of this, Steve and his wife Sharon are regularly exploring the world, seeing one of a kind places and posting incredible photos and moments from their journey. Steve is a people person, and easily holds a conversation better than anyone else I have met. He talks with warm, ease and energy, and always has the most interesting topics of conversation to discuss.

Steve is a people person, a family man, a man of strong morals, and is always looking to be the best person he can be.

So here’s Steve’s answers to my core twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

Being around people who accept me for who I am. I love to be amongst loving people in a loving environment.

Which book had the biggest impact on your life?

The Bible. I am not a traditional Christian in the sense of attending a regular church any more, but throughout all my life, in all stages, the Bible and a connection has been there.

What quote or saying do you live by?

‘Do unto others’

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

I like to practice self-examination and have self-check ins to make sure what I am doing is aligned to not only my moral compass, but also what I want to achieve and where I want to be in life.

What inspires you?

People of excellence. If you surround yourself with people who are better than you, naturally you’re going to be inspired, improve and be better.

What are your top three priorities?
  • My wife Sharon and my family
  • Doing and being the best I can be
  • Harmonising with people
What is the biggest misconception that people have of you?

That I am not all the other things I have answered to my questions. People can often see and be in awe of me as the ‘performer’. They think I am the person I am when I am on stage, but I am not.

You see this happening a lot in the industry I am in. People don’t realise you’re a normal person with normal feelings and thoughts, they just picture you as your stage personality.

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value or have had the most impact?

My Alexa speaker.

People at the drop of a hat I can get music to play, get the answer to a question or ask for a fact. I don’t even have to stop what I am doing or focusing on to find out.

My house.

This year I purchased my first house, and it’s pretty amazing considering it’s my first property. For me, this signifies a new chapter in our lives, and is the perfect place for us to connect with family, who I see as the most important extension of us. We can’t wait for people to visit us there. I get to think ‘this is mine’, and get to share it with others and make memories there.

Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do for a living or work in your field?

Surround yourself with people who are better than you as it naturally rubs off. Go to a singing teacher, attend a drama or arts school or join a band where you are the least talented member.

Immerse yourself in the new environment, and pick up your pace.

For me, Freddie is obviously my benchmark. Know where you are going, know your benchmark, and find others going in that same direction. You will all bring each other along the journey.

Oh, and never give up!!

What are you most proud of that you have achieved?

Career wise it’s being the front person in my own show. I have transitioned from someone with no confidence when I first started performing, I had no self-esteem as a teenager, to having a show and going out and doing the best that I can on a regular basis.

What is an unusual habit of yours?

Trying to be funny all the time.

What do you do every single day?

Make breakfast and a cup of tea for Sharon (his wife).

Try to have some kind of connection. Life can be a little bit of a dream and you can get distracted by other people’s opinions, thoughts or negativity. Plus, all the bad news shared daily online doesn’t help.

It’s important to have empathy, and to relate, but also to try and stay calm and connect to your own beliefs.

I wish I could meditate to help clear my mind, but I can’t, however I do listen to podcasts such as Steve from LBC every night when I go to sleep. Even if I get up in the night, I put the podcast back on to help me drift off again.

Oh, and I play Battlefield One as much as I can!

14054053_10154721706851454_1412812449278033775_n

Thank you so much Steve. I have honestly learnt so much more about you from these twelve questions, and I love your perspective on the importance of connections and surrounding yourself with others. 

His key advice:

  • Be the best that you can be
  • Surround yourself with others on the same journey, and bring each other along 
  • Family, and being around loving people is really important
  • Don’t get distracted by other people’s negative outlook, remain true to yourself
  • Never give up!!

You can discover more about Steve Larkins Is Mercury Rising here, and watch some of his great performances. I promise you, they’re good.

 

Episode 03 – Katy Bradshaw: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

Katy is a currently a brilliant Test Engineer, paving the way for girl coders across the world. She graduated with a first-class honors degree in Information Systems, and ever since has gone from success to success in her career as well as her personal life, the latter of which is really important to her.

a880bf53-38e4-4aaa-8ffa-3a5ad9dab7f1

What makes Katy so extraordinary? When I asked Katy how she would summarise herself, she said ‘Northern, small, sarcastic and loves a good cuppa’, and this is why I think she’s incredible. This woman is paving the way in a male-dominated industry and has one of the strongest worth ethics I have ever witnessed, and yet she’s so modest in her description of herself.

Katy is a strong friend, devoted wife, passionate dog mum and avid reader. I love to share books with her and we regularly give each other a text to let the other know if we have read something brilliant. Her commitment to putting family first is inspiring, and I really respect her refreshing honesty when it comes to self-care, mental health and well-being.

So, here’s Katy’s answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

There are actually quite a lot of things that make me happy.

Things like hearing the rain when i’m camping, the smell of a new book, hearing laughter, playing with a dog, feeling warm sand under my feet, reading a good book, watching lord of the rings, getting into bed just after a shower when the sheets are new/cleaned and obviously food. Ultimately if I know that those I love are happy, I tend to feel a contentedness that I cannot explain.

Which book had the biggest impact on your life?

This is actually a really hard question for me. Books are my life and I always take something away from each book I read. I would probably have to say that Harry Potter has had the biggest impact overall and taught me a lot as I grew. One example of this, is a section in ‘The Deathly Hallows’ (possibly my favourite paragraph of them all) when Potter reveals himself to defend Prof McGonagall, because Amycus – the dirty snake spat at her. Loyalty and respect right there. 🙂

However, books like ‘In order to Live’, ‘White Swans’ and ‘Eggshell Skull’ have had a profound impact on my after reading (even during to be honest) and I am in awe of those women and strive to be as strong as them.

What quote or saying do you live your life by?

There are 3 specific quotes that resonate with me but the most important to me is probably:

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors not his equals”

I fully believe that everyone deserves kindness and respect, no matter their background or circumstances (Unless that person is Dolores Umbridge of course) and I would never treat someone in a way I wouldn’t wish to be treated myself.

How do you remain or regain your focus?

I’m a big lover of a todo/checklist. I get a lot of satisfaction from been able to tick something off a list. I get a sense of accomplishment no matter how trivial or small the item. I think that’s a big part of where my focus comes from.

A sneaky tip specifically suited to work – I always make a list of things I need to do the following day to help keep me motivated (I tend to stop at 6 – too many and you can get overwhelmed which does the opposite).

If I’ve lost my focus, which can happen as I tend to get antsy and most of the time I can’t quite pinpoint why. One of the first things I do is get up and have a quick wander about; even if its a quick 2 minute wander it tends to help clear my mind. A lot of the time, grabbing a cuppa helps me to refocus..

What inspires you?

The women in my family have to be the main source of my inspiration. They are all incredibly strong, passionate and determined people. I couldn’t imagine a life without them as they’ve made such an impact, even those that are no longer here still inspire me. I’m also inspired by everyday things, and people. Everyone’s mind works in a slightly different way and especially in my job it’s something I notice a lot. There’s never just one way to look at something and that in itself inspires me to always keep pushing.

What are your top three priorities?
  • Family,
  • My dogs
  • My friends.

I know these are ‘cliche’ answers but it’s the truth. Without these three things my life wouldn’t be enjoyable. I know that people say you should make yourself a priority, and while I agree (and would probably tell people the same) – My nature has always and most likely will always be to put others first; I care too much about others. No matter what headspace I’m in, if I know someone I care about is struggling, I will reach out and do whatever is in my power to help them through it.

What is the biggest misconception that people have of you?

That I am always positive and happy.

I also feel like this is one of the biggest misconceptions people have to date for anyone. I’m not going to lie, I am happy and I do have a positive outlook on life for the most part. However, there are also times when I don’t want to get out of bed, don’t want to talk to anyone, where I want to scream at the world or have a good cry, and I don’t have an explanation or reason as to why, other than that’s just how I feel. It’s sad, actually, because my anxiety keeps me from enjoying things as much as I should at this age. Fear is inevitable, I have learnt to accept that, but I am working on trying not to allow it to paralyze me.

You never truly know what’s going on in a person’s life unless they talk to you about it. Judging people on their outward appearance and making the assumption that “that’s just who they are” is wrong. I believe that with the push to focus more on invisible disabilities this misconception will go away in time, and i look forward to when it does and people won’t be ashamed to be honest.

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value or have had the most impact? 
  1. Marriage Certificate – While there were a lot of other purchases around this specific one, this was the reason behind them all and was, for me the most important.
  2. Solicitors Fees – An odd one I know, but this meant that we were able to sell our house in Nottingham and move to Manchester with fewer complications.

1001887_10151473843775216_283707964_n

Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do for a living/work in your field?

Current role – Test Engineer at a Consultancy Firm. Previous role – Quality Engineer for a financial Services company

When I started out on my career in IT I had no idea just how many options were out there. I also had no idea what I would be good at or what I would enjoy doing for the long haul. I was lucky and able to start on a 2 year rotation scheme that allowed me to spend 6 months in a role learning the ropes and testing the waters before settling on a specific role at the end of the 2 years.

Testing as a career is now kind of split between manual and automation testing. If you didn’t have a technical background but wanted to move into this career, showing the core skills and having a passion for learning would be enough to help you get started in a manual testing job – not all companies have the need/resources for automation.

Once you’ve gained the experience you can then look at if you’d want to move into a more development style role with a company that did have the need/resources for automation. If you wanted to get involved in an automation based role (which has all kinds of buzzwords – Software Engineer In Test, Quality Engineer, Developer In Test, Automation Tester etc), then ideally you would need a tech background – this doesn’t necessarily have to be a degree in technology, having a passion for it and working on it in your spare time – uploading projects to GitHub, developing App/Websites that you can show in interviews etc. are all good ways of showing the skill set. Obviously having a technology inclined degree – maths, computer science, networking etc. would help towards this.

A lot of people think that testing is easy or not particularly ‘technical’, I disagree. As a tester, you not only need to understand the requirements but you also need to think about how that piece of work fits into the bigger system and how it would be used and then define those scenarios; both positive and negative and test them. It’s not so much about ‘breaking the code’ but about making sure its robust enough. Ultimately, the people using what you’ve built have no context of APIs or Micro Services, most of the time they think double clicking something is ‘just how you make it work’ and as a tester you need to make sure you use the system as they would.

I feel like i’m rambling a bit here so i’ll shut up – The main skills I would say a Tester needs to have are;

  • Focus
  • Love of problem solving
  • An eye for detail
  • keen to learn
  • Big picture thinking – Being able to picture the whole system
What are you most proud of that you’ve achieved?

This is a tough one for me as it’s not something I tend to think about. However, someone asked my mum a few months ago how she felt having 3 successful children.

I’m not going to lie, I laughed about it as I’ve never really seen myself as successful. I’ve just plodded along, pushing myself when I felt I wasn’t trying as hard as I could. Most people say graduating is their proudest achievement, and while i’m pretty chuffed about it, that’s not the first thing that comes to mind. I would have to say that I am proudest of who I am today. It’s something that’s harder to measure than an object or being that you can point to and say, that’s my proudest achievement, but knowing that my grandparents are proud of me, and of who I’ve become is what really matters, even with all my other flaws.

58e3e0bd-ace5-4097-a299-7d921758b766

An unusual habit of yours?

While I didn’t find it unusual – most likely because I’ve grown up with the habits. Fiddling with a label in clothing tends to help me stay calm and relaxed and I tend to do it unconsciously. I’ve also been told the fact I iron my bedding is weird – but with OCD I would never be able to settle knowing the sheets on my bed are creased so I’ll live with it.

What do you do every single day?

On an average day I will kiss my husband goodbye when I leave the house: Whether he’s asleep or not – You never know what can happen so I always give him a cheeky kiss. I always like to have a chinwag with the dogs – normally Harry, as Mol is too grumpy to grace me with any type of response. Ultimately though, this really depends on the situation. For example, If I get up last I will make the bed as i’ve always held the belief that a tidy bed leads to a tidy mind. I also try to make sure I take some time to unwind each day, that can be done in a manner of different ways – reading a book, walking the dogs, watching a film, playing a board game with John, also with my OCD tidying and sorting can also come under the unwind category ironically.

Thank you Katy. You answers are brilliant and really gave me a lot of food for thought. I agree with making the bed each day, it really does just start the day right! 

So, what is her key advice?

  • Be proud of who you are today
  • Everyone deserves kindness and respect, no matter their background or circumstances
  • To Do / Checklists really help to keep you focused
  • Thinking someone is okay because they look it on the outside is one of the biggest misconceptions we all have these days. It’s important to dig deeper and help. It’s important we are not ashamed to be honest about how we feel.
  • Try different roles to find one you really love.

Enjoyed this interview and want to read more? Look no further then here.

Episode 02 – Sam Watling: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

Sam is a successful chairman of the York Film @ The Folk Hall (a local independent cinema which last year was nominated for several national awards), Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer for York Council, a brilliant blogger, and DJ.

20180206_192558

What makes Sam so extraordinary? I wanted to interview Sam because from the moment I met him, I was blown away by his complete and utter love of life, resolve to do good, and his natural ability to support, cherish and encourage everyone around him whilst also succeeding himself. He’s the chairman of a great charity organisation, and has taken it from strength to strength since leading it.

Sam is the friend who will be there at all your important milestones, cheering you on. Sam is the chairman who will encourage his volunteers to do bigger and be better. Sam is genuine. Sam is the person giving up most of his weekdays, weekends and evenings to make things happen for his community. Furthermore, I have honestly never met someone with so many genuine close friends.

I still to this day don’t quite understand how he does all he does in the same twenty four hours as the rest of us. I hoped this interview would give me some insight into this, and the rest of his infectiously ‘can do’ outlook on life.

So here’s Sam’s answers to my core twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

My niece and nephew! The ability kids have to find fun in everything and remain completely present in the moment is astounding and kind of contagious too.

Which book had the biggest impact on your life?

I haven’t read consistently since I was a child if I’m honest.  I love it but it’s always the thing that gets sacrificed to make time for everything else.

‘The End of Mr Y’ by Scarlett Thomas caught me off guard though, and reminded me why I love reading.

It came recommended by a dear friend and it sat on my bookshelf for over a year until I went on my next holiday. It’s a mysterious story of a cursed book, time travel, philosophy, science fact, fiction and fantasy all wrapped up in a bonkers little masterpiece. It’s like a thought experiment in a book.

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

More and more it’s become:

‘FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT!’

Initially it was because I started to realise just how much most people are essentially blagging their way through life. We’re all just making it up as we go along to different extents.

It’s ok to not really know what you’re doing and just to learn as you go. Every mistake or failure, provided it’s acknowledged, is an opportunity for growth. So rather than shying away from a challenge because it’s the easier thing to do, or for fear you might fail, better to have a go. It will either all be ok or, at the very least, you’ll be better for next time.

More recently the phrase has taken on a slightly new meaning for me. I’m currently training to be a coach and there’s been some interesting discussion about the idea that when we articulate a desired change in behaviour and then take small steps in that direction, our thoughts and feelings can and do eventually follow suit. Say it, act it and it will be so! You can literally fake it till you make it!

How do you remain or gain your focus?

Focus is a tough one. I’m not sure I’ve ever been truly focussed although I’m working on getting there. I tend to take on a lot, and then procrastinate by doing the smaller, more manageable tasks first. I often feel like I’m going a million miles an hour.

A few years ago I started to lose faith in my memory and since then I put everything that needs to get done in a list in my phone calendar. Those that don’t get done get bumped onto the next day and so on. It thankfully means I rarely forget things I need to do these days, but it does highlight which jobs I am putting off as they can be in there for weeks sometimes.

There is something uniquely satisfying about deleting tasks done and watching the list get smaller!

What inspires you?

People. Friends, family, colleagues. My mother, my sisters, my girlfriend.  People going through hard times but still being good to their fellow humans. People who aren’t afraid to be completely themselves. People who lead by example. People who teach. People who build. People in love. People are the most extraordinary thing in the universe and I’m yet to find one that doesn’t have something to teach me.

What are your top three priorities?

I definitely used to think it was stuff/money/ status based. I must have that high paid job so I can afford the nicest car and biggest house. I need to make my mark on the world. I need to be famous. I wrote a list many years ago of the ages I wanted to have certain things by. Own house by 21, £25k a year job by 25, kids by 30. It felt like it really mattered that I achieved them.

Setting goals is still important to me but since I started to volunteer and dip my toe into the world of coaching, I’ve become increasingly aware that the journey to wherever we are going is by far the most important bit.

Humans have a curse called hedonic adaptation. We get used to the stuff we think makes us happy. That’s why the longer term happiness levels in lottery winners don’t stray much from the long term happiness levels of people badly injured in accidents. So, in the last few years, my priorities have become a lot harder to define and sound a bit more wishy washy!

Positivity, development and contentment are up there. Can all three exist in harmony? We’ll see!

What is the biggest misconception people have of you?

That I’m always super positive and have things together.

I’ve got extremely good with my ‘Fake it till you make it’ attitude and it has massively helped me get through hard times. I’m more positive now than I ever have been. But I still struggle with nagging self-doubt and a tendency to care a too much about what other people think of me or what their motives are. I’ve identified those traits though and keep them in my mind so that they don’t define me, I define them and as such, I can work on them.

What two purchases this year do you value most or have had the most impact?

Lots of the purchases I make these days go towards progressing Film at the Folk Hall, my little passion project. We recently bought a new projector lens. It was funded by four local organisations who all chipped in after hearing about our community cinema and wanted to help us improve!

It’s awesome to have something bought by the community that we know will make what we do open to more of its people.

I have also just bought a proper camera. I’ve wanted one for years but never taken the plunge. Being able to capture the moments that mean the most to me is sure to make this a very important purchase. I just need to learn how to use it now!

Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do for a living?

I’m not sure it’s the sort of job anyone thinks – ‘THAT’S what I want to do when I grow up!’

I’m still not sure if it’s what I want to do when I grow up if I’m honest!

Dealing with the public and helping improve things in the city I love is a privilege. But very few people want to speak to us. For the most part they have either done something wrong, or they are complaining about someone who’s done something wrong which can make finding positivity difficult at times. I think it’s important that you make it a priority to treat everyone fairly and with respect regardless of who they are or what they may have done. Not taking things too personally is the toughest thing but it’s really important to try and keep a thick skin.

Don’t get sucked into someone else’s negative mindset. If you let someone get you down then you’ll be off your game and the next person gets a lesser level of service. Most importantly, work hard on your relationships with colleagues. They are the ones who make your day, every day!

What are you most proud of that you’ve achieved?

Film at the Folk Hall has to be my proudest achievement to date. I had been going through some hard times with a belief that I was in a rut I couldn’t get out of. I blamed work because I felt like that was the only thing I could find negativity in. A great friend asked me if I spent any time doing anything for other people and I didn’t. It made sense immediately and within days of looking for volunteering opportunities I found a struggling community cinema five minutes from my house.

Since then my friends have got involved and we have grown and improved how we do things. We have built up a lovely community of people who want to get together and enjoy great movies. In the process my positivity at work has improved and while I’m busier than ever, it’s doing something I’m passionate about and believe in.

An unusual habit of yours?

Annoying people. I just love it. I like to jump out on people. I like to sing as loudly as possible in terrible voices. I like to click and clap and drum beat on things. I like to whistle badly. I click all of my knuckles. Basically all the things that really annoy people. Also, if someone tells me to stop I have to do it at least 2 more times.

What do you do every single day?

I review. Sometimes I can’t help it and I might go over and over certain things I could have said or done better. Sometimes it’s an internal high 5, like ‘Good work today, you did it!’ but there’s almost always something that’s happened that’s worthy of reviewing. I think something coaching has taught me is that I want to also have a ‘So what?’ and a ‘What next?’ to make sure all that reviewing isn’t going to waste. A plan for tomorrow built upon today’s learning.

36002902_10156444153503134_1356303723789287424_n

Thanks Sam, the answers are brilliant, though I am not sure I could give up reading to fit everything else in like you do! You’re a serious self-sacrificing guy.

His key advice:

  • Fake it til you make it
  • Review each day to make next day better
  • Volunteering give you a stronger sense of purpose, self and happiness
  • Don’t compare yourself to others or let yourself be influenced by their negativity
  • Family is really important

You can discover more about Film at the Folk Hall here, and perhaps go see a show or two! They’ve got an outdoor event coming up this Bank Holiday, and you’d get to then meet the brilliant Sam in person.

Episode 01 – Ross Weir: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

Ross is a 26 year old English Teacher, Aspiring Author and Proud Dog Dad currently living in Barcelona, Spain. In the last four years he has lived in many countries, travelled lots, modeled for a few Vietnamese adverts and companies, and lived a pretty envy inducing life! He is currently launching his own online English Teaching Community ‘English, English’.

63948a8e-3402-4b88-83dc-ae40b6800c0d

What makes Ross extraordinary? I wanted to interview Ross because he has such an infectious joy for life. He has experienced so much thanks to his almost fearless attitude to living his best life, and is always working on a new inspiring project. Ross is a talented photographer, brilliant teacher and also makes me laugh every single time I talk to him. Since I have known him he has been that guy who is just annoyingly naturally cool. From spearfishing to trekking across a Malaysian Jungle, Ross’ adventures and hobbies are never ordinary.

If I am ever hesitating about doing something a little scary, such as moving abroad, I just think of how Ross did it and made it look so easy and it hugely helps.

So, here’s Ross’ answers to my core twelve questions. I hope you learn a lot!

What makes you happy?

Having a purpose, and also making sure my life is stress-free. Most of the time people are unhappy due to unnecessary stress but it consumes you. Making sure you have something that you can work towards in the future but remaining stress free is really important to me.

Also, it’s really important to not worry about what other people think unless they’re important to you. The day you stop worrying about people’s opinions, you become so much happier and stress-free.

Which book had the biggest impact on your life?

The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.

I think the way Douglas Adams writes is so eloquent; his comedic value can be put towards anything. He brilliantly captures how the stereotypical British person has the ability to make anything terrible and complain.

That book, and how much nonsense is in there, is a good reflection on life, and we should always look at it in that way. I try to find the funny in everything and jokes that could be there. It’s pretty much what I was saying in the first question and relates to what makes me happy.

c4b8caf5-8a1a-43e7-8b97-9d778eb7c16f

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

I was actually going to get a tattoo of this quote. It is somewhat serious, and kind of makes sense.

The quote is from the Watchman, said by the comedian:

‘It’s all a joke, it’s all a fucking joke’

To me it means to look at things from a different perspective. If we look at everything with the most cynical viewpoint, it can ruin your day. Missing the bus can be so frustrating and if you get worked up about it, it can ruin your day. However if you take a second to think, it’s just a bus, and yes I may be a little late but it doesn’t need to ruin my day, it is so much better.

I have been doing that for the last three or four years now, and thanks to it I am so much happier.

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

As a Weir, we are naturally extremely easily distracted, I find we have energetic spikes where we take on extra and feel that we can do everything, and then when the energy runs out we lose focus.

Recently I have been trying to help myself to focus more. My Girlfriend (Tuline), You (Lyndsay) and Mum are all really focused and I find that quite inspiring. I want to get to that point myself.

There are two ways I am trying:

Way One – Look at what I would get from success. For example, if I want to learn a language, the success is meeting new friends, watching more movies and discovering new books. You fail so often when first trying, and it’s embarrassing if you get it wrong, but the end goal is worth it.

Way Two – I write a daily list of things to do. I then work solidly for three hours, and it is so satisfying when it’s done. The house is clean, I have walked the dog. Instant gratification is great.

img_0453

What inspires you?

Day to day, everyone in my family. We are all doing different things and yet we are all doing well at it. We are all progressing in different ways and doing what we want to do and it’s nice.

Striving for success. Got to be one of the most inspiring things for anyone. If I can see a goal I could reach on the horizon, I am inspired to achieve it as it’s so close and it will feel great when I do.

What are your top three priorities?
  • Having fun – If you don’t enjoy life, what’s the point?
  • To succeed – success is so important for everyone, it gives you something to be proud of at the end of your life.
  • Make my family proud
What is the biggest misconception that people have of you?

My head isn’t that big. No just kidding, people often think I am quite reserved but it’s not because I am shy, it’s because I like to suss a situation out before I try and converse with people.

You’ve got to be careful with what you say to people these days, especially when I was living in Vietnam, it’s such a mix-bag of people there’s people you can talk to for five hours and then there’s the people you really just don’t click with.

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value or have had the most impact?
  • Plane ticket to Barcelona, moving my whole life from Vietnam to Spain
  • Trip to Japan – it’s always been a dream of mine and it was incredible. If you want to visit somewhere different but where you feel really comfortable, it’s the best place to go.

(Ross asked for another) Okay you can have three:

  • Nescafé Dolce Gusto Capsules – (I didn’t pay him for this). I have become so addicted to them.
Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do for a living or work in your field?

Ross is an English Teacher

  • You need to have a degree and a TEFL certification. It’s important because without them it makes your life so much harder. Teaches you the communication skills you need to deliver effectively in front of people.
  • So important that you make sure you’re in a situation where you are happy. In Vietnam I was in two jobs. An agency where role I taught 60 children at a time and the kids were so friendly even though they messed about. You can’t come at it as a teachers angle and see them as naughty, they are just excited and want to talk to you. At the English Centre I loved the job so so much, it was so much fun, my colleagues were great, and my boss was great. Basically, as an English teacher you have the ppportunity to work in so many places, you get to pick and choose, so choose the right place. You have the chance to make it so enjoyable.
What are you most proud of that you’ve achieved?

Travelled lots and lived abroad

Having travelled to so many places. I think travel broadens the mind, and with my family, we have all travelled a lot which makes us open-minded people and helps in so many ways with the way we think and the perspective we have on life.

Living in Vietnam was amazing, and gives you a whole different perspective on life. Even with Spain I have been here for a month and it’s so similar to the UK but so different, which makes it great.

An unusual habit of yours?

I have a pretty big collection of notepads and journals and I love to look through them as it contains all my thoughts. Website ideas, language learning snippets. So much stuff in them, it’s good to look back on.

What do you do every single day?
  • Walk my dog, really important, good for her and helps me clear my mind
  • Drink coffee, I am addicted
  • Relax, which goes back to what I think is important, you need to take a second to reflect on everything and realise how unimportant things are. Problems are often not worth worrying about.
  • I try to play video games most days, for escapism.
  • Take pictures every day, mostly of my dog, but it’s good to have something to look back on. I can look back on hundreds of photos and it gives you little memories. I know people say we shouldn’t live on our phones but it’s nice to have the memories. You just remember really small details such as smells and taste.
  • Do something without my phone too, which actually was inspired by you Lynds. You wrote something about it on your blog, so when I walk Hiro I usually take my other phone without internet so I can take in the sights and explore a little bit. Go to parks, watch her play. It’s really incredible and nice to escape for a little while.

 

Thanks Ross, that was a really amazing chat, and I know that I personally am going to try and take life a little less seriously and try and worry less and experience more following Ross’ advice!

His key advice:

  • Enjoy life
  • Don’t take things too seriously
  • Travel and experience other cultures often
  • Family is really important

You can follow Ross’ new English page here,  or follow his travelling and experiences through photos on his Instagram (they’re mainly of his dog!).

 

 

Proud To Be Launching The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

As I near closer to celebrating completing yet another lap around the sun, I have been thinking about what I have been working towards, producing and dedicating my time to over the last 365 days.

One thing I haven’t started, that I have always wanted to, is moving my blog from a minimalism platform, to more of a lifestyle and content hub. A place to find travel guides, book reviews, latest recipes and of course, a sprinkling of minimalism articles from a community of like minded people.

So this last month, I have worked hard. The site has had a redesign, the blog is relaunching, and excitingly I will now be sharing more content from not only myself but from wonderfully inspiring other people too!

First up in the new launch is the thing I am most proud of:

The Extraordinary Ordinary Files

Look out for my new bi-weekly series, the extraordinary ordinary. A series of twelve questions I will be asking to people who we interact with on a daily basis to discover what makes them wonderful.

Too often, we hear advice from the people at the top of their respective fields, the movie stars and those who have made a name for themselves. Rarely do we listen, ask and learn from the people who are living extraordinary lives away from the cameras, press and publishers.

On an almost weekly basis I am inspired by the lives, stories and lessons I learn from people within my own social circle. They encourage me to go after my passions, to love with no restrictions and to strive to be the very best I can be.

My mission over the next year is to uncover the incredibly valuable learnings, lessons and guidance from the people who are living extraordinary, wonderful lives.

Whilst collating it all, I will be looking for key trends, insights and valuable learnings we can take from people who are in the field you may wish to work in, or have the confidence you wish to emulate, to work out, are there any traits they share that make them good at what they do.

So, if you are a cleaner by day but a world class pop-up chef by night. If you have incredible organisational skills which have made you succeed in life, or you are really just being the very best at whatever you do, I want to hear from you.

You’re all extraordinary, but we are also all ordinary. So let’s learn from each other, and get to know the people we share our days, lives and hours with, rather than trying to emulate the life of a reality, sports or rock star who quite honestly, has lived a very different life to us!

FIRST POST – LIVE AUGUST 3rd 2018