Raul Mercado of Camping Helper: “Everyone is learning”

I practice gratitude every morning I wake up. I take a moment of silence or put on some positive music and I list off everything I am grateful for. I make sure that I feel grateful too, not just say it. I have also adopted a mantra of “I’m good” which acts as a base […]

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I practice gratitude every morning I wake up. I take a moment of silence or put on some positive music and I list off everything I am grateful for. I make sure that I feel grateful too, not just say it. I have also adopted a mantra of “I’m good” which acts as a base for who I am and what I want to be.

The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.

As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Raul Mercado, owner ofCamping Helperand Mercado Wix Design.

Raul transitioned from working as an overnight restaurant manager to Director of Digital Strategy for a medium-sized digital marketing agency through self-learning and dedication. He’s also started two other businesses focused on helping small business owners develop sites on the Wix platform and his passion for the outdoors. He resides happily in Austin, TX with his loving partner.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Sure thing! I grew up in a quintessential suburb of Dallas called Plano. Pretty boring place to grow up but only because it was incredibly safe and was mostly made of middle class families. I had a great public education and pretty good childhood growing up.

My parents are Hispanic and were more traditional when we were younger so we did go through some confrontations about their beliefs and the beliefs my sister and I were forming as we grew older. This caused some issues but, luckily, we were able to get past them and all of us have a great relationship today.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My dad always used to tell us the well-known quote “It’s always darkest before dawn.” I catch myself replaying him saying that to me from time to time. It’s always helped me gain perspective when I was in a bad place.

More recently I’ve taken on the mantra of “I’m good.” I love this because it implies that if you are good then there is no room for any other feelings. It’s been incredibly powerful in situations where I feel that I have no real reason to be upset but the conversation is sort of sucking me into the feeling.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I’d say the last book that had a significant impact on me was Setting the Table by Danny Meyer. Danny Meyer is the owner of Shake Shack and a number of other very popular restaurants in New York. His book talks a lot about culture and how you can build the type of culture you want by rearranging your priorities for a business.

It had an impact on me because I was working in restaurants at the time and was looking for a way to become passionate about the business. It was the first time I heard anyone in the industry talking about putting their employees well-being as the number one priority for a business. I’ve never forgotten that feeling and it led me to a number of other books like Conscious Capitalism.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?

Absolutely. I was working as a Director of Digital Strategy for a digital marketing agency where I would host 1-on-1 calls to develop a strategy for their online marketing. Then we would hand that off to a team to build and I would perform walkthroughs of the live assets to determine if the copy, design, layout, etc. needed to change to optimize for conversions.

What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?

Both my partner and I decided that it was time to follow a path we had been keeping an eye on for a while. We purchased a course on making affiliate sites for a large amount of money, even though we were going through hard times, and started a couple of websites based on passions of ours.

I had heard about this course about a year prior to purchasing from a very reputable digital marketer and would check it out from time to time and visit their website and pricing. But it wasn’t until the weekend after my birthday, this year, that we decided it was time to pull the trigger.

Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?

I was working freelancing in web development for a while and was having those roller coaster months where some months you make a ton but other months you make nothing. Well, I was watching a lot of Youtube videos and reading a bunch of content online trying to learn as much as I could and finally hit on a video of someone who told me that I wasn’t going to get rich quick online. That there was no such thing as passive income. And if I stayed focused and had a good strategy that I could make a legitimate online business but it takes a ton of time and energy. I kept watching and I haven’t looked back.

How are things going with this new initiative?

As anticipated they are slow to start. My expectations are that the site should start showing signs of legitimate growth at the end of the first year and I should see significant results at about the year and a half point.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I always thank my wonderful life partner. She has always pushed me to find more in life that speaks to my goals and passions and to never settle. Her strengths are my weaknesses so anytime I get stuck on something or I’m having trouble I know I can turn to her to pull me out.

I’d also like to make a special thank you to Miles Beckler who produces Youtube content for his own channel but is who I found that has helped me learn so much in such a short time. He doesn’t have actual courses for sale and he doesn’t offer any services. He simply wants to help others achieve their digital marketing goals.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

I had signed up for an email list from a digital marketer about 2 years ago when I started learning more. I had forgotten about the company because I had moved on to the next shiny object but when it came time earlier this year to apply for jobs I randomly saw an email in my promotions tab from them stating they had an open position. I applied and long story short, they hired me and that is how I got the position as a Director of Digital Strategy.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. I refuse you to do this alone — everyone needs help but we are mostly too embarrassed to ask for it. Just get the help and get to where you want to be twice as fast.
  2. Make time for planning — if you aren’t careful you end up working like a hamster on a wheel with no end in sight. You need goals and specific ways of achieving them and specific actions to take if you are off track.
  3. Finances will determine your success — if you don’t know your numbers you aren’t going to make it. People get lucky but you don’t want to be that person.
  4. Everyone is learning — imposter syndrome is real but only if you let it be real. It’s about learning and improving not about knowing everything.
  5. There’s always a solution — most people don’t find answers because they stop looking. Make sure you go a little extra to find the solution that will work out for everyone involved.

So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?

I practice gratitude every morning I wake up. I take a moment of silence or put on some positive music and I list off everything I am grateful for. I make sure that I feel grateful too, not just say it. I have also adopted a mantra of “I’m good” which acts as a base for who I am and what I want to be.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

The movement of vulnerable sharing. When we are vulnerable and let that vulnerability sit within ourselves we can have more space to listen to others, empathize, and take actions that not only affect us but everyone as a whole.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I would love to have lunch with Willie Nelson. I’ve lived in Texas my whole life and now reside in Austin and Willie is an icon for the state. I also played guitar when I was younger and love his music.

How can our readers follow you online?

Readers can visit my site, Camping Helper, for info on camping gear and outdoor activities or they can visit my Wix related website, Mercado Wix Design.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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