Raida Rehouni works remotely as a marketing manager for Shut Up and Go, a travel media company co-founded by two Youtubers that encourages people to travel the world and live the lives they’ve always wanted.
THE “OK, WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP?” MOMENT
What was your “OK, what’s the next step?” moment?
I graduated with a master’s degree and was planning on becoming a robotics engineer, maybe move to Paris and have a good job and a nice apartment, but what really changed my mind was a six-month internship that I did in Tokyo in a robotics laboratory. One day, I saw a post from Damon and Jo looking for a moderator for the Shut Up and Go Facebook group. So, I sent them an email just for fun. I wasn’t really serious, I just wanted to be part of something else besides my studies, like a hobby. I had been a subscriber for six years, I watched their videos during lunch, thinking “I wish I could travel that much”. A few days later I got a message from Nasir, who worked with them, regarding the application.
And then I was done with my studies, which was the thing that kept me going for years and years. Luckily, I saved a lot of money during my internship so I planned to take a four-month break to travel. I don’t know, maybe I was looking for something to change my mind because I was low-key convinced that the type of life I was aiming for wasn’t really what I wanted. So, I travelled through France, Scotland and Spain by myself. And, in the meantime, I was still a moderator. So, I did that for a few months, and even though I wasn’t getting paid to think about the vision or future of the company, I had some ideas like memes for Instagram and stuff like that. In October 2018, I met Jo in Paris and she told me she was doing her best to create a job position for me. I knew that soon I’d have to find a job, and every week she was checking if I was still free – and then, at the end of January, she gave me a job.
What’s Shut Up and Go and what do you do there?
So, Shut up and Go is a travel media company co-founded by Damon and Jo. The main difference between this and other travel media platforms is that we do more than just “10 best things to do in LA” – it’s a website where you can find personal experiences, good and bad things about places and life, and more. Shut Up and Go is the little push you need to live the life you want.
So, I’m the marketing manager. I take care of sales, like merchandising. For example, when we want to launch a collection, I’m researching the best product that matches the needs of our audience. Then I’m looking for costs of production and what the price should be. The other side is advertising and taking care of the content on the website and Instagram to create engagement. We also have brands that want to work with us, so I’m also responsible for running campaigns, putting together a marketing budget, creating content and promoting it, and making sure that the campaign performs well so brands can have a return on investment.
You didn’t graduate with a marketing degree, so how did you learn all of that?
It’s a lot of self-learning. I’m reading a lot and watching a lot of videos. Now with the internet, you can learn pretty much everything. Yeah, 50% is that and the other 50% is what Jo has taught me – she studied business and she’s an entrepreneur, so she‘s taught me a lot of stuff. I also think I have kind of a good intuition when it comes to advertising.
And what about engineering? Do you miss it?
I kind of miss it. I know I didn’t say goodbye, I just put it on standby. I’d like to find a way to merge marketing with robotic sciences and everything I‘ve learned – maybe one day I’ll create my own company. I don’t know.
WORKING REMOTELY AS A MARKETING MANAGER
How is a normal day at work for you?
Okay, so for my job, I need three things: my laptop, some Wi-Fi and my brain. I don’t have to commute, so that’s the real difference with a traditional job. Right now, I’m in Los Angeles, so part of my day has been answering emails, sending pitches, having calls with brands to introduce them to Shut up and Go and ask them if they want to collaborate with us, and then I also learn stuff. I read articles and watch videos in English – I speak in English at work and I’m not perfect, so I have to keep improving; then, I have more creative parts, like creating memes or thinking about advertising campaigns.
I mostly work with a task list and every day I try to do at least five things. For example, if today I have ten things on my list, I’m going to do five of them. If I have the energy or time for more, I’ll do more, if not, I leave it for the following day. But when it comes to being a digital nomad, there are so many ways you can organize yourself – you just have to find out which one fits the way you work.
What challenges did you face in the beginning when you started working remotely?
Discipline. Discipline because I wasn’t at allorganized as a student. I did everything at the last minute and then I was exhausted after the exams. So now, I had to find some consistency because I don’t really have exams, I just work every day. One of the perks of having a traditional job is that it’s dissociated from your personal life, so when you get home you’re not supposed to work.
When you’re a digital nomad, it’s difficult because you’re either at home, traveling or meeting people, so you’re like “Okay, should I work now or get a coffee with a friend?”.
How many countries have you visited last year? Do you travel a lot?
Hmm when you have this kind of life, you feel guilty if you’re sitting in the same place. It’s a very weird feeling – “I managed to become a digital nomad so why am I not moving right now?”. At first, I was moving every week or so. Itwas fun but soonI got a bit tired of carrying my luggage to a train station every week. So, right now, I’m planning on staying for one month in each place. I’ve been a month in Los Angeles, I’m going to Mexico for a month and then to Ecuador.
Last year, one of your Instagram captions said: “I’m trying to do something meaningful every month”. How did that go?
I wanted to be able, at the end of every month, to look back and see a difference between my “old me” and my “new me” in 30 days.
Isn’t that stressful?
No, no – nothing is going to happen if I don’t do it. I just choose to achieve something that I really wanted to do since the beginning, you know? So, I could say “Okay, this month I’m taking singing classes”. So, at the end of the month, my singing level would be better. This month, I’m taking boxing classes and I love it, it’s a good way to let go. I might keep doing it when I go to Mexico. I’m 26 years old and I’m pretty happy about what I’ve achieved already. I’m not going to stop.
Sometimes I try to think if my 15-years-old self would be proud of my current life. It’s a good way to measure where I’m heading to.
Yeah, I mean, when you are lost, you should just go to a café, take a pen and write what makes you happy. “What do I want?”.
Actually, even more important than knowing what you want is knowing what you don’t want.
So, either write a list of things you want or a list of things you don’t want – like having no time or toxic people.
HOW TO WORK REMOTELY
What are your tips to find a job as a digital nomad?
I’m thinking about what I’ve done, but I would say that the best thing is to not be afraid of taking a shot in the dark.
A lot of people are like “It’s not going to work”. But I mean… I’m in LA right now with a remote job, with a salary, and I’m going to Mexico next week because I sent an email. One email.
I keep reminding myself of this every day because, if I hadn’t sent that email, I’d have a completely different life right now. LinkedIn is a good platform to find remote jobs, you can just type “remote”. Check social media or community management positions. I think that’s a good way to start. And when you do that, don’t send an email to a general contact address. Try to find one person in particular and be sure your email arrives at their personal mailbox. We just launched a guide on that called “The No Bullshit Guide to Finding Digital Work”.
And what kind of advice do you have for people that want to travel the world? Besides saying “Shut up and go”?
Okay, so I think the first step is to be convinced that it’s possible. Think about it more like an ambition and not a dream. Make it a concrete goal because we are lucky to live in an era where we can do it thanks to technology. If you want to get out of the cycle of co-dependency between time and money and being stuck in an office, you need to find a remote job. So just send thousands of emails, as many emails as it takes to find a job. If it’s not working it is because your emails are bad. So be realistic about that and work on your emails. Also, another way to do it is to create your own job – it’s easier to go freelancing when you’re a designer or create digital content.
If you could go back in time and give a piece of advice to your younger self before university, what would you tell him?
It’s hard because I feel like I’ve done the right things – I’m here. So, I would say to keep going, that’s for sure. I didn’t do anything that I regret now, which is great. After high school, I started with medicine studies, and then I just dropped out because I wasn’t passionate about the French educational system, and then I thought “Maybe I’m making a mistake right now”. So, for those kinds of moments, I would go back in time and be super supportive and say, “You’re making the right decisions, don’t worry”.
It’s every parents’ dream to have a doctor in the family. How did your family react?
Well, my mom freaked out because I was the first one in my family to make it to college. I come from an Algerian immigrant family, so they were super proud of having an engineer in the family. Then I came back from Tokyo and told them “I want to work with YouTubers. No, no – I just feel it’s the right thing to do and if it doesn’t work, I have my diploma”. And for six months they told me “You need to get paid, you need to think about retirement”. But they trusted me as well because I was always serious about my life. You have to be bold and have your own fears, and don’t let other people’s fears add to yours.
And also, I didn’t present it, it wasn’t something up for discussion. I just arrived and told them what I was about to do. I paid for my own studies, so I didn’t owe them anything – that, of course, made a difference. I told them: “If you don’t get it then I’m just going to wait for you to accept it”. And now they see me in LA and think that I’m super lucky.
And of course, a part of it is luck, but you have to earn it. You know, it wasn’t like I was just sitting on the couch waiting for something to happen.
I wanted to ask you: don’t you feel lonely whilst traveling, sometimes?
Never happened. I have really good friends, I guess. We call each other every week. Also, I like to solo travel because I’m super free to do whatever I want.
But what about when you see something that’s really beautiful, like sunsets, which is your thing, right? Wouldn’t you like to have someone to share that view with? That’s why I’m afraid of solo travel.
I’m a huge fan of sunsets. Sometimes I’m watching a sunset alone and I’m like “Oh, I wish I could be with someone, to share it with friends or family”. But then I think that it would be worse not seeing it, you know?
So, there are three cases – the one where I’m not seeing the sunset with someone, the one where I’m seeing the sunset by myself, and the one where I’m not seeing anything. And I still think that the former is better than the latter.
Oh, I love it. I’m going to Brazil for an internship in September and I’m going to take that with me, seriously. Thank you!
NEWSLETTER + E-BOOK “How to start a project”
Thank you for reading this interview! I truly appreciate it! Inspired by the first interview of this project with Madeleine Dore, I created a short, and free of charge, workbook on how to start a project. If you’d like to have access to it and the newsletters, subscribe here:
Buy me a coffee
If you’d like to support this project and contribute to the numerous cappuccinos I drink every time I write an interview, click here.