Hi there, my name is Jonathan Whiting. I live and work in British Columbia, Canada.
The web’s given me more than I may ever be able to give back. I’m the grateful user of numerous open source projects like WordPress, TinyMCE, jQuery and many more. Also, I’ve enjoyed starting 3 businesses thanks to the web, none of them would have really been possible without it.
In an effort to give back to others in a small way I use this blog to share about the things I am learning and interested in.
About this blog
If you were to wander the halls of this blog you may notice posts on design, code, bicycles, photography and even a few on managing a tech venture.
Unable to shake the idea that a person can be great at both design and logic, I’m continuing my journey towards both. I love the freedom that both art and programming allow. A programmer can solve almost any problem they want. Build a game, tackle corporate efficiencies, take on relationship management systems… you name it.
This blog is a place to unabashedly chronicle and share all the different lessons I learn along the way. And maybe even a tutorial or two.
About the name
The name Machiine is a spin-off from my old blog on Marketing I contributed to along with my friend Kelly called Idea Machine. I also felt it fitting that I spend all day working on a computer. So the name Machiine stuck and now it is my blog.
About Leonardo and limits
There are two kinds of limits. Good ones and bad ones.
Good limits are those that protect us and those around us from harm. Bad limits are those that restrict us and others from our potential.
The inventions of people like Léonard de Vinci wouldn’t be possible if they spent much time listening to limits.
The majority of limits that we and society place on us fall into the bad category. Usually they come from a place of fear, ignorance, pride, tradition or well-intentioned beliefs.
I may write about stuff that doesn’t really mesh, but that’s okay, it’s not meant to be perfect.
About this blog’s structure
I enjoyed the experience of writing essays in university. It forces a person to dig deep into a topic, research and share the direction the research leads. I hope to bring this writing style to this blog.
You might be wondering, why is it that there is a structure if the point of this blog is to break from limits. Structure and limits are not mutually exclusive. It’s simply a way to organize the posts. Also the structure might expand or change if it becomes restrictive.
I started this blog because I wanted a place to do the above. I will keep writing and sharing what I am learning whether or not it gets much traffic because it’s fulfilling.
The neat thing about it is that I don’t check my traffic much. When I did I was surprised to see it has grown in readership a lot.
For the first year I was happy to get 10 visits a month. Now this site gets almost 20,000 visitors per month and 15% of them are returning. That’s humbling. Makes one want to proofread a bit more.
Born to a fun-loving and adventurous family in the Western Cape of South Africa. My early years were filled with memories of time with family, itchy school uniforms and playing by the shore.
There were many moments that have influenced me to this day. Watching the ease at how my grandfather would draw pictures instilled an interest in art that remains with me. Or after moving to Canada winning my first art competition in Grade 3.
Like many of my generation I was introduced to computers at an early age. Mostly computers involved playing early MS-Dos games like the one below.
Only a couple years after graduating high school I took what I considered to be a huge a risk. I started a clothing company. I spent almost all my savings and in return I got about 20 freshly printed t-shirts with my designs on them. But I was terrified. What would people think? Here I was, a guy, designing clothes. It was a risk that payed off. I quickly learned that people respect it when others do something they believe in.
Much like this blog, Saint clothing was about bravely pursuing your passions. It donated 10% of all proceeds (before profit) to organizations I believed in. Saint also sponsored 1 amazing skater Josh Worsfold, 1 upcoming snowboarder Josh Roberge, 3 bands, and was shipping merchandize right across North America as well as to our local 540 Boardshop owned by Kelly Ross.
By December ’08 I had to make a decision. A university degree or a clothing company.
That month I took the second biggest risk of my entrepreneurial life. I shut it down. Now I was terrified that people would think I had failed or had given up. I was studying Political Science at the time and I knew that if I ever wanted to get a masters degree I needed to have top marks. But my time was going into Saint clothing (about 40 hours a week).
Making hard choices like this reinforced my commitment in what I was doing it for.
It’s a lesson I am glad I learned. It turned out that no one cared that I shut it down (except the people who were hoping to order more clothes) and instead the network of people I had met along the way building Saint started requesting design work.
Design work picked up quickly and a web design company I created on the side in ’08 called Crayons & Walls suddenly got busier. After getting my degree in Political Science and a minor in Philosophy, C+W became my full time career.
It’s amazing to think how much happens in just a few years.
My brother Steve and his business partner Art were building an online community for Real Estate which was showing potential, but they needed a web guy. Barely a year into C+W near the end of ’09 they invited me to join them in this new venture.
Bold and very green we raised some capital investment, hired our first employee and away we went (and still going).
View from the chair of my first office. (The living room of our old place)Since starting Simple Engine Media we’ve had some high points and low points. We are on, what I would call, an accelerated learning plan. The times where we were bailing water just to keep afloat weren’t fun.
I’ve learned that when we are in a storm and struggling to keep our business alive it’s hard for people to think clearly and make good decisions. I’ve also learned that breakthroughs can happen at anytime, sometimes when I least expect them too.
And I’ve learned that it is better to be smart and to choose your fights than to be like Rocky (repeatedly getting hit and getting back up only to get hit again). I’ve learned that some seasons you have to be tough and determined like Rocky with your eye on the goal. But it ain’t fun.
I’ve also learned that partnership is one of the best things that can happen to a business because there are times when we all want to give up. It’s hard to describe how impacting it is to have a team mate in the ditch with you slugging onwards.
Partnership is also one of the most challenging parts of business. Some of the greatest obstacles we face are our own fears and those of our business partners.
And I’ve learned that if you really believe in what you are doing, you will figure out a way to make it happen and be successful.
Today Simple Engine Media is recognized as one of the top 5 tech companies in the Okanagan by Jump:Start. Simple Engine Media was also named as one of the top 20 startup companies in the BC interior by BCIC
Thank you for reading this blog, I hope that there will be something here that will encourage you and something that I’ve shared from my experience that is useful to you.