As a part of our series called ‘Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A CEO’ we had the pleasure of interviewing Jaime Nacach.
Jaime is an entrepreneur, marketer, and self-taught tech expert. He is considered by his peers as an energetic and approachable leader. He combined his creativity and business strategy experience to create a digital marketing agency, Bloominari, and Virtual Latinos a hiring portal that so far has helped 150+ companies grow and 600+ professionals find the job of their dreams.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Hello readers! I’m Jaime Nacach, founder and CEO of Virtual Latinos. I was born and raised in Mexico but currently live in the beautiful city of San Diego California. I’m a marketing strategist and I have a huge passion for technology.
I’ve been in the US for a long time, but I’ve always felt very connected to my country. I wanted to find a way to give back while running a successful business; it’s just a goal I had in the back of my mind and my heart.
Before creating Virtual Latinos, I attempted to hire a Virtual Assistant for my digital marketing agency, Bloominari but failed. I tried different freelancer websites like Upwork and Fivver and even a company that offered VAs from the Philippines. Nevertheless, the whole experience was awful, especially since the person I hired ghosted me.
That’s when the brilliant idea came up to me, professionals from Latin America!
I decided to create Virtual Latinos four years ago and to this day, I feel incredibly grateful because I found the opportunity to help many people and make a positive social impact whilst leading a business.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Sure! As you know, our company today works as a recruitment agency to hire Virtual Assistants from Latin America. When I began the company and I started recruiting people directly myself, I think that one of the most interesting things that happened to me was the fact that I started hiring people, not based on their skills or background specifically, but instead, I focused on their personality and the potential that I saw in them. I’ll give you two examples.
The first example is Jennifer; she is from Ecuador. Jen is a makeup artist. Nevertheless, she applied to Virtual Latinos because she speaks English and she wanted to find a job virtually.
So, she was accepted and she got into our Telegram group, which is our community space where everyone is always chatting. I started to notice that Jennifer was saying hi to everyone, welcoming every new member of the community, and I thought that was really nice. She wasn’t even technically part of our company and she was extremely kind and welcoming to everybody who was joining us.
I reached out to her directly; at that moment in the company, we were very small, we were like four people. We didn’t even have a Customer Success team at all. So I told her: “Hey, you know, why don’t you help me by literally doing what you’re already doing, but I will pay you for it. Be in charge of helping and providing support to any assistants who are joining our community, and we’ll go from there”. She started the department from scratch, and she had zero idea what Customer Success even meant. What’s really interesting is that I was able to see something in a person who was capable of doing something amazing for the company.
Eventually, we did find somebody that had more of the role experience that we needed as the company started to grow. But now Jen, even though she’s no longer working in Customer Success since she’s very creative and she loves to be in the camera, she was transferred to our Marketing team and now she’s in charge of creating content.
Another example is someone who I hired as my executive assistant, Roberta. She actually studied to be an architect, but she speaks English really well so I hired her. I had a great feeling based on her personality and the way she spoke to me and how she answered my questions; her energy throughout all of our conversations was really good. She was great as my executive assistant, and since at the time I was in charge of sales, I offered to promote her to a sales role. Now, she’s the manager of our Sales team, even though she had never done anything related to this role before, she’s doing amazing.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I don’t think that it’s necessarily a funny mistake. It’s just mostly, let’s say, a mistake!
When I was first learning about virtual assistance and how it works, I followed what everybody else was doing, which was to hire people from the Philippines. I found the portal Online Jobs which is a directory where people share job openings; you pay once and then you get to post a job. Then, if you hire someone, you don’t have to keep paying. When I first started Virtual Latinos, I was basically trying to copy that model, not with people from the Philippines, but of course, with people from Latin America.
I was hoping it’d work, and that’s where the big mistake was. I thought that I could scale it as big, potentially as Online Jobs but what I quickly realized is that they are a totally different market, there are different types of professionals and experience in remote and virtual work.
The lesson that I learned is that you can’t always do what everybody else is doing just because “it works”.
This experience pushed us to change our model! Now, we’re fully focused on what we call the Agency model, where we process all the hiring, we charge our clients, we pay the assistants and we make a small commission from that.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. 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?
First and foremost, I think that success can be attributed to working with my father. I’ve been working with him since I was about 17 years old. I worked at his company and having that role model of someone who’s an entrepreneur, helped me out a lot.
In terms of a particular person to who I’m grateful, who has helped me with Virtual Latinos, I would say that it’s a mentor called Steve. Steve is someone from San Diego who was part of an organization that was providing free consulting for small companies that were starting out. He was in charge of guiding me at the very beginning of the company in figuring out how to set some pricing models, how to grow the team, how to pay some of the people internally that were part of our team, how to think about which types of clients we wanted to focus in, the services that we wanted to provide, and so on.
To this day, over four years later, I’m very grateful that his advice has been so great and I know that if it wasn’t for him, maybe we wouldn’t have grown as fast as we did.
As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality, and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
Absolutely! I definitely believe that a company that has a variety of people and team members from different backgrounds, races, and cultures is very important in general. This gives a greater chance of being successful because the more diverse it is, the more potential there is to learn from other people’s experiences and cultures.
Virtual Latinos is definitely one of the best examples of that! Although we are all Latinos and we speak Spanish, we all come from totally different countries. Currently, our internal team is made of over 35 people that live both in the US like me, all the way down south to Argentina including countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and so on.
We are constantly having meetings as a team, both work-related as well as for social exchange and it’s a great way to get to know each other; we talk about some of our differences, facts about our cultures, etc.
I strongly believe that having this huge diversity of people that are part of our company makes it a lot easier to create content and engage with our community, especially because we’re hiring from all over Latin America.
As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.
As leaders of the business world, when we’re creating communities, and internal teams, to really make these communities inclusive, you need to have a lot of respect for everyone. I think that’s the number one thing! You need to be respectful of everybody’s differences, and backgrounds, and be open to every type of person as long as, of course, they align with your main values and visions.
At Virtual Latinos, we’re definitely a fully inclusive type of company. We hire not only from different countries but also, both men and women regardless of their beliefs and sexual preferences. We don’t mind at all, everybody is included and welcome.
On our internal team, we have a whole mix of people and it’s really great to see how everybody is respectful, and very professional, regardless of how they look physically, what their sexual orientation is, or what their religion might be.
I’m Jewish, and we have people who are not Jewish, our team has members who are Catholic, Christian, or people that do not necessarily believe in God. And it doesn’t really matter, the most important thing is that we’re all respecting each other.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?
I’ll try to explain in just a few words! It seems obvious that every leader needs to lead and set a good example for the rest of their team. But I think the CEO specifically, let’s say at the top of the leadership team, not only does he/she has to be a good example to both the leaders below them, as well as the rest of the team, but the CEO in a way acts as a link and unites the whole organization.
Every leader can have different leadership methodologies, and different ways of leading their team, but the CEO in a way has to align with the entire community as a whole so that everybody looks up to him/her.
I am not perfect and I don’t think anybody is, but I really try to be a good CEO in our organization. One of the things that I’m always constantly telling my team is that I am always open to feedback, both from our leaders and the people below them, as well as our Virtual Assistants who are not part of our internal team and want to give any feedback on how our company works. I think being open to knowing that you’re not perfect and that you can do things better and not being the type of leader who thinks that they know everything is a really important part of being a good leader.
In my humble opinion, the CEO shows the example for the rest of the members of the organization so they have to always act very professionally regardless of the situation they are in.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive? Can you explain what you mean?
I think one of the principal myths I’d like to dispel is: “a CEO always knows what to do and how to respond to every situation”. I definitely can tell you that it’s a myth because on many occasions there’s a specific problem that we hadn’t encountered before. I’ve been in this position and I’m like: “Well, I have no idea what to do. I don’t really have a clue. What is the best thing to do?”.
Because of my personality, I always tend to think that I have an answer based on my own personal ideas so if I feel confident about what I think we should do, obviously I just share it with my team. Nevertheless, as we continue to grow and there are more and more new types of cases to deal with, I just tell my team: “Well, I don’t really know what we should do. What do you think?”; I reach out to other people within my team for answers.
The CEO is not an all-knowing person, is just another human that happens to be in charge so he/she has problems and issues that come with the role just like anybody else’s.
What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
The truth is my job is exactly how I thought it would eventually be! I’ve been leading Virtual Latinos for four years now.
In the beginning, I was just another team member, eventually, I hired people to help me. My job was dealing with clients; I was a sales executive. Today, I’m more of an operations manager. I don’t think that’s accurate to say that I’m ready to be a CEO that only directs because I’m still pretty involved with some of the operations of the company.
I do think that currently, my job is what I thought it’d be, I am the CEO and I have a group of leaders below me, which are the directors of each of the departments. Those leaders are in charge of the people who work in their own departments that I’m not directly in touch with every day.
Nevertheless, I’m always available whenever anyone needs it; anybody can approach me, which is awesome and I want to keep that for as long as possible, but yes, the reality is just for saving time in general, now people report to their leaders and their leaders report to me.
Do you think everyone is cut out to be an executive? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive, and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?
I think that a person is capable of being an executive as long as he/she has the ability to solve problems, doesn’t get overwhelmed, and has leadership skills.
In my opinion, one of the main skills an executive must have is emotional intelligence! This will allow him/her to acknowledge everyone else’s feelings and act in the best possible way in favor of accomplishing the company’s objectives.
What advice would you give to other business leaders to help create a fantastic work culture? Can you share a story or an example?
This is a great question! We are a fully remote company, we don’t have a physical office at this point, everybody, except two, or three people who do work in the US, works in Latin America. So creating a remote work culture in general, it’s hard because we’re not physically there to talk to each other, see each other, etc. In general, my advice to other business leaders in terms of creating a great work culture is to be open to listening to other people’s ideas about what they are interested in. This way, you can work towards having a type of company that makes them happier.
I always make sure that everyone is aware that we are a company that doesn’t know everything, that we’re learning as we grow and that there are always going to be ways to make things better.
Plus, being humble in terms of accepting that nobody is perfect, nobody knows everything and everybody here is just as equal to everybody else is very important in Virtual Latinos as well. In fact, it was one of the things that we did very openly, especially when we were growing as a team.
When we realized we were no longer five, 10, or 15 people, currently we are 35, we created an organizational chart that looks obviously like a pyramid where the CEO is at the top and then there are the department leaders and then people under them. Nevertheless, I specifically told everyone: “Look. The fact that there’s a chart that shows who’s in charge does not mean that people are better or above others, everybody is valuable”. Every team member’s opinion and voice is just as important as mine, as a CEO, or anybody else. That’s why when we’re meeting in team meetings, everybody has a chance to comment and suggest things on how to make things better.
I think the main advice in general is: you have to know that you need to be open to learning from everybody at all times.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
Yes! I’m very proud to say that this business that we’ve built, Virtual Latinos is a three-way win where really everybody who’s part of this organization is benefited. First and foremost, our assistants from Latin America win because they tend to make 200 to 400% more money compared to what they would earn locally; they end up making more money that helps them have a much better standard of living.
The clients also win because they get to save 30 to 70% on labor costs by hiring people and outsourcing them to our company. That’s a huge benefit to their businesses, which basically lets them spend more of their money on other resources to grow as a company, or potentially hire more people for the same amount.
At Virtual Latinos, we also win since we make a small commission and profit for the company, but also because we are very proud that we’ve created this beautiful community of people that support each other in many different ways, not just for building the company and having a job, but people actually share stories and ask for help within our Telegram group, our main communication channel. It’s very nice because compared to a more typical company where people feel they’re competing with each other, here everybody’s working with different clients; no one is really competing. They’re just sharing information, sharing tips, and that’s very beautiful.
Fantastic. Here is the primary question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a CEO” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. It’s best to “Go to market faster than perfectly ready.”
While building my first company Bloominari, a digital marketing agency, I worked endlessly to get everything I needed for the business to be ready before I spent time promoting it. Looking back, that was somewhat part of our company’s failure. I sought perfection and having “everything ready”, rather than spending more time and money in testing my target market, promoting our services, and making sure that we’d get more clients and sales — instead of a process without gaps, problems, or issues for marketing and delivering our marketing services
2. You’ll hire and fire more people than you think.
Today I manage a group of 40+ people and looking back I’m surprised at how many people have come and gone since our inception. Whether I like it or not, it’s a fact that I can’t accurately predict how long a staff member will stay within our company, nor the reason it may cause them to leave, or for us to fire them. The reality is that accepting that people come and go (which is hard for me to accept), is a reality of how business works.
3. Defining your company culture early is KEY to growing and keeping your team motivated and happy.
At Virtual Latinos, we’re a fully remote company, and the fact that we started to define the key values, beliefs, vision, and mission of our company early on as well as the overall culture we wanted to build, has proven fruitful today as we continue to grow. We can see how having the right mindset, culture, and common goal makes a big difference in how people in our team and community feel proud and happy to be a part of our company. Without our current culture, I think many more people from our team/community may have chosen not to continue being a part of what we’re building. Culture is a big thing and a keyway to retaining staff and community members.
4. Success is hard to come by, it’s more like lots of “Trial and errors” until something works.
When people tell you “Work hard and you’ll make it” they’re lying to you. Many people work hard all of their lives and don’t achieve the goals they’ve set themselves.
Success is not easy to come by, and it’s only achieved through hard work, many trials, and errors, as well as luck. I worked VERY hard while building my first company, but looking back, I don’t think I was able to achieve the success I was hoping for. Today, I’m working just as hard, and have achieved most of the new goals that I set out for myself through our new company Virtual Latinos
5. Effective and professional communication goes a long way to achieving your goals.
As CEO, sales director, and the many “hats” I’ve worn throughout my career, I believe that knowing how to professionally communicate with various types of people is a KEY factor for achieving and reaching goals.
We live in a world where we as humans communicate in many ways, shapes, forms, and platforms. Today with the digital era, even in more ways we can imagine. Knowing how to communicate professionally, and in a positive manner usually solves problems with staff, customers, partners, etc. Having open dialogue, and picking up the phone to actually chat (when necessary) rather than hiding behind texts or emails, goes a long way. I know today that choosing the right way to communicate is key. I thank my father for always encouraging me to not forget that sometimes we just need to “talk” person to person and NOT go back and forth just in writing. In almost every case where I called vs emailed/texted, that turned out to be true and I usually solved my problems and achieved my goals.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Here’s the thing, a lot of people who apply and want to work with our company are from Latin America. We reject the big majority of people for various reasons. We only accept about 5% into our community, but a huge part of the percentage of applicants we don’t accept, probably more than 50%, don’t get in mostly because their English level is not good enough. This is a very important requirement since, in our company, we’re working with people in the United States and Canada and everything that they do is in English.
The biggest thing that I think people have to do and should do is dedicate their time to learning English because we work in a global world today and the lack of speaking English literally limits what you can do as a professional, especially now that work can be 100% remote. If you don’t speak English, you’re not going to have as many opportunities, whether you work with Virtual Latinos or any other company. That’s the biggest thing that we need to inspire people to do in Latin America, to speak English and really commit to it.
Today with lots of mobile apps, providing free English lessons there shouldn’t be any excuse whether you have money or not to speak English, anybody can download an app and start learning English.
That’s my biggest advice.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
This quote was given to me by my grandmother, from my father’s side a long time ago. To this day, I think it is extremely relevant to my personal and for my business life. It’s “never say never.”
Many times in life, we potentially say to ourselves “no way I would never do this or that would never work” or “it’s impossible.”
Today we have a company that is not directly related to what I was doing initially, we’re doing recruitment, we’re a recruitment agency and I previously worked in digital marketing. I never said “no, we could never be that type of company” or “I could never work in a recruitment company, it’s not what I do.”
There are always going to be things in life that are going to surprise you, so always be open to that “never!”
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
One of the persons who I follow and who I’ve met twice in person is Gary Vaynerchuk also known as Gary Vee. He owns a marketing company.
I was impressed when I met him because he’s had such influence on so many businesses and people, not just in the US, but around the world as well and even though he is extremely popular when you meet him in person, even if it’s just for a few minutes, he’s 100% genuine.
When you get to chat with him, you can see that he genuinely wants to listen to you, and get to know who you are, even if it’s very briefly. That’s really amazing to see, like, I look up to being a person like him.
Gary Vee is someone who I’d love to have breakfast with, I think he’s somebody who really inspires a lot of people including me.