Jacqueline Camacho-Ruiz of JJR Marketing is a pilot, a dream catcher, and a force of nature to say the least — and she leads by example.
Now, she uses her platform to empower other women to break barriers. See how Jacqueline leverages her success to foster an inclusive, solution-oriented workspace.
Why Advocacy Is Important in the Workplace
- Breaking barriers leads to new opportunities
- A sense of wonder helps you stay inspired
- Sincere gratitude is emotional intelligence
- Empowering others can give you purpose
- Authentically serve clients to build trust
Breaking Barriers Leads to New Opportunities
Jacqueline has accomplished more in her career than many have in a lifetime. Not only is she one of the few Latina sports airline pilots in the US, but she’s also the publisher of the largest anthology of Latina stories in the world and has started a nonprofit organization that has helped over 200 young Latinos aged 12–25.
Needless to say, Jacqueline has pioneered her success, breaking barriers and discovering new opportunities for herself in the process. It’s no wonder that she’s often referred to as a dream catcher.
Jacqueline Camacho-Ruiz: A lot of people call me a dream catcher, and every day, I think, "Why would they say that?"
But over the span of the last 20 years in my professional career, I've started two award-winning companies (marketing agencies) — we're proud to be one of the top agencies in Chicago, thanks to the ratings from Clutch — and an international publishing company. That has given us the opportunity to publish books from authors around the world. I have published 26 books of my own.
And, I have become one of the few Latina sports airplane pilots in the United States. I've been flying for about 8 years, and it's changed my life. I got my license in 2018, so I can carry real passengers instead of just my teddy bear!
I’ve spent an entire lifetime as an experiment in personal development because I started reading amazing books when I was 5 — classics from Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Zig Ziglar, and Og Mandino. Then, when I was 12, somebody burned our house, and 80% of my books burned with it. It was the first devastating episode in my life, but also the first moment that I realized that I knew what those books said.
I was determined, at that age, to become an experiment of personal development. I wanted to see if it actually worked: coming from humble beginnings, coming from poverty, coming from a place where you wouldn't expect anybody to become a pilot and a 26-time author.
I got to be on top of the world and at the brink of death, almost in the same sentence! That’s what makes me kind of unusual, which tells me that principles work if you live by them, if you apply them, and if you use yourself to serve others.
When aviation came to my life, I knew that I've always been a dreamer. I've always daydreamed. I've always aspired to do something more beautiful even if my circumstances sucked at the moment. Now, I've become a dream catcher.
Jacqueline’s books laid the foundation for her principles and have helped her overcome adversity. By sticking to her values, Jacqueline has opened doors for herself, allowing her to support others as they achieve their goals.
A Sense of Wonder Helps You Stay Inspired
You might think of business as all work and no play, but Jacqueline believes in balancing the two. For her, she turns to flying as a way to experience wonder in life while still being strategic and practical.
Michael Le: I want to talk about your experience with flying. As I was looking over some materials that you put out, it seemed like flying was pervasive in the language you used.
JCR: Yes, you're right. I use a lot of terms from aviation. I use a lot of parallels and anecdotes because it's truly changed my life. When I think of aviation, I think of both the whimsical and the pragmatic. I'm a few thousand feet closer to God to elevate my prayers! I love extending my wings! I love taking out the doors of the plane so that I can feel the wind!
But I also look at the cockpit very closely: the dashboard, oil pressure, gas pressure. How high is the angle of attack? If the engine were to quit at this moment, how do I convert this aircraft to a glider so I can land?
That is why I love aviation so much. It embodies the left and the right brain — the whimsical and the pragmatic all in one. And, I can be both.
I've coined a phrase that I'm now famous around the world for: "Taking off is optional, landing on your dreams is mandatory." The reason why we say that is because, when we count the hours in our logbooks as pilots, we don't count the takeoffs — we count the landings. Taking off takes about 3 actions. Landing takes many more than that and with precision.
ML: On that note, is there anyone in your life who inspires you to continue doing what you're doing?
JCR: I'm inspired by micro-moments, when somebody completely and unexpectedly makes an amazing decision to answer the call of leadership or does something kind for somebody else. I'm inspired by the micro-moments of miracles — of the pure joy and happiness that we experience.
Like Einstein said — and he's another example of someone dreamy and pragmatic, "You can look at life as if everything was ordinary, or you can look at it as if everything were a miracle.” And I choose that, genuinely. I choose to live that way.
Appreciating wonder through flying is a key part of Jacqueline’s process. Flying helps her find joy, exercise her emotional intelligence, and, ironically enough, grounds her!
Sincere Gratitude Is Emotional Intelligence
You might not think of gratitude as an active process, but Jacqueline argues there’s more to it than meets the eye. Practicing gratitude is key to being a good leader and staying in control of your decisions.
JCR: Gratitude is the biggest accelerator for you to achieve your dreams. Gratitude is what centers and grounds you. It's knowing that you’re a pilot in command of your life. And, if you can’t even take care of your own emotions in difficult times, then what can you manage?
That's one of the hardest assignments for us as leaders, as humans, as mothers and fathers, as parents, and as cousins. That's my prayer to God. Every day I ask “How can I have grace and gratitude in my heart during difficult times?” I know if I can do that, I can do anything.
It's just like when I'm in the air. I decide when I'm flying an aircraft to say, "I'm going to land. I'm going to strip away all the drama. I'm going to take away all that doesn't serve me at this moment. I'm going to land on success. And I'm going to be objective. I'm going to be grateful. I'm going to be alive, awake, and alert."
It's a mindset. It's really just emotional intelligence — being neutral. And, it's having grace in tight and difficult times.
Leaders need to have emotional intelligence to inspire their teams and guide them toward their business goals.
Empowering Others Can Give You Purpose
Jacqueline defines success as the congruency between doing what you love, profit, and impact. But she’s not just talking about her own achievements. Rather, Jacqueline believes that success is also found in service — it’s your ability to help raise others, too.
JCR: What I realized is that even without any money, even without anything material, I could serve people, and I didn't have to wait to be successful to do that.
ML: How does that feel now that you've attained so much success?
JCR: I just know that my schedule is filled with unbelievable, amazing things every day. Talking to people that I want to talk to — talking to people of influence. I feel excited that my decisions matter, that my voice is being heard, and that I have influence because people have seen my trajectory.
I'm speaking with celebrities and their managers because we're putting together an event. However, whenever I get a big award, that allows me to create even more influence to say, "Who else can I help?"
For example, my contact is a former NASA chief engineer whom I met at the United Nations as a delegate of the first Latino Leadership Summit. I was invited as a pioneer of storytelling for Latinas at the time because I created the largest collection of Latina stories in a book anthology series in the world.
We connected, and she said, "We're going to go to the moon, Jackie." And I said, "How many people could fit in that ship that we're taking to the moon? Because I'm taking women with me — I'm taking leaders with me."
She laughed, but that's the way I operate. I think that has led to moments — micro-moments — of profit and impact, even if they don't come from the same place at the same time. That, to me, is the definition of success.
Using her influence to raise other women and leaders is one way Jacqueline finds significance in her work. What’s more, you can support others regardless at any point in your career.
Authentically Serve Clients to Build Trust
It’s easy to be a leader when things are going well, but Jacqueline believes it’s the difficult times that really test a good leader. For her, actions speak louder than words. Leaders need to behave consistently with their values, both for their clients’ sake and to inspire their team.
ML: I'm amazed that you're willing to turn away clients in the name of their best interest, but in the same breath also say, "In order to help you grow, you should check out my peers who are better suited to you."
JCR: It's not easy to say no to a $60,000 contract because your core values are on the line. You want to be congruent and honest with your team, and you want to take care of them. I know that if I go to that client, they are going to pay us sixty thousand dollars for the project, but they're also going to treat us like slaves. I can't put my team or their energy through that, so I say no.
In our team, it’s about the reinforcement of the input and output that we get as well as how the decisions are made. If we make mistakes sometimes (I call them brain farts), we ask ourselves, "How do I fix it now?"
Always focus on the landing and the solution. It doesn't serve me to be dramatic when I'm flying an aircraft with a passenger. I have to get rid of that and focus on what the airplane is telling me.
It's the same thing in business: it doesn't serve us to be erratic and to be dramatic. Lead with grace, just like the violinist in The Titanic who was feeling peace inside.
Say, “I got this. This is why I've been training for — preparing for difficult times, not for the good times." Anybody can be great in beautiful times, but I really admire the leaders — the people that step up and answer the calling of leadership during difficult times. They can keep their calm and focus. To me, they're at the epitome of success.
A good leader stays collected in the face of turbulence and puts the team’s well-being at the forefront.
How To Find Jacqueline
Check out Jacqueline’s business JJR Marketing to find cutting-edge insights in digital marketing, PR, and branding. You can also visit Jacqueline at her personal website, jackiecamacho.com where you’ll see all of her brands and projects.
Looking for more business tips from a range of industry leaders? Follow our podcast From the Ground Up to check out our other episodes.