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On the Brink with Andi Simon

Mar 19, 2024

She was absolutely determined to succeed. Hear how you can be too!

I always want to bring interesting people to On the Brink with Andi Simon. You will love this interview with Maryles Casto. Her journey has been extraordinary, largely because of her ability to listen carefully, understand people’s needs, and create solutions that are part of her personal style and amazing business savvy. Thanks to an unquenchable can-do attitude and sheer hard work, Maryles made her travel agency the go-to travel company in Silicon Valley, serving the biggest names in tech and beyond. Listen to her story, get inspired, and please share.

Watch and listen to our conversation here

About Maryles: “Asian hospitality with Yankee business sense”

Born in the Philippines, Maryles Casto is a pioneering travel industry executive and entrepreneur with 47 years of experience founding and leading companies to profitability. A former Philippine Airlines flight attendant, Casto created and helmed Silicon Valley-based Casto Travel, the West Coast’s largest privately owned travel management agency. (Casto Travel was frequently ranked among the Top 100 Fastest Growing Businesses in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, and ranked second in revenues among Silicon Valley women-owned businesses by Silicon Valley Business Journal in 2006.) In 2019, she sold the company to Flight Centre Travel Group of Australia. She is also the founder and owner of Casto Travel Philippines, Inc., as well as chairwoman and CEO of MVC Solutions, which provides travel industry businesses with back-office support, accounting and other services.

Maryles has served on many business, civic and philanthropic boards, including the Commonwealth Club of California. She has been International Chair of the Committee of 200, an invitation-only group for the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, and she is a founding member of the Northern California branch of the International Women’s Forum.

You can connect with Maryles on LinkedIn and her website, or email her at

Key takeaways from our interview:

  • Business is all about anticipating the client’s needs.
  • If you can’t believe in what you or your company is, how can you go out and sell?
  • It’s not what you do. It’s what the clients are asking for.
  • “There is a hole in the cloud, and whatever I do, I always have a hole in the cloud to get out.”
  • It’s time for us to be kind to each other.

More stories of women who dreamed big and achieved success in business: 

Additional resources for you

Read the transcript of our podcast here 

Andi Simon: We’re giggling. But welcome to On the Brink With Andi Simon. I’m here to help you see, feel and think in new ways. My job is to get you off the brink, and our podcasts are here to bring people to you whom you might not know or meet people who have stories to share that are going to help you change your story. Now remember, every time you hear someone’s story, your own brain begins to shift things around until you go, oh, I can do that! Or wow, what a great idea.

And so the whole idea of a podcast, whether you visualize it and see it or you listen to it, is to help you see, feel and think in new ways so that you can soar. And that’s why I bring wonderful people here, and people bring wonderful people to me. To be here today is just going to start out a little bit different. The co-author of our book, Edie Frazier, who is on the bottom of our screen here, she and I wrote Women Mean Business: Over 500 Insights from Extraordinary Leaders to Spark Your Success. And it’s been quite a journey. And as Maryles Casto, who’s come to us through Edie has said, is that turning a page and changing your life is really amazing. But that’s what we wanted to do. And I wanted Edie to introduce Maryles to you, because she’s very important in her own life.

And then Maryles will talk about her own journey so that you can learn from it, because there’s wisdom here that is going to be difficult to get from reading her bio or looking at her great website. So this is an opportunity for us to share. And in sharing, we can all grow together. Edie, thank you for joining us. Please, I can introduce Maryles Casto when you’re done more formally, but this is so special for you. Please tell us about your experiences with Maryles Casto and why it makes you smile so.  

Edie Frazier: A joy to say thank you to a dear friend, Maryles Casto, because we go years without talking to each other. But when we get together and reminisce, we think of the qualities of a leader, a true trailblazer, and the best of friends. You know, Maryles wrote her book A Hole In The Clouds: From Flight Attendant to Silicon Valley CEO. And she did it. And she built this major travel business where she was the icon, and she knew all the founders in Silicon Valley who trusted her, respected her, and built with her.

And she built that business across the US and world and runs the business now in the Philippines from her home there. But she gives joy and support, and she’s the best you can find and firm of that word trust and respect and caring and she lives a legacy. So Maryles, I just want to say thank you for the friendship and know your spirit is in each of us who have gotten to know you, adore you, and we’ve got years ahead to salute one another. But I just say to Maryles Casto, you are the true blue of the hole in the sky. 

Andi Simon: Oh.

Maryles Casto: I love you, too.

Andi Simon: Edie, that’s beautiful. Maryles, do you want to respond to Edie before she takes off? 

Maryles Casto: That’s what friends are for is our song. Keep smiling and that’s what friends are for. And, Edie, I just want you to know, can I plug this? This is my book. 

Andi Simon: Yes, of course. 

Maryles Casto: That’s for you. And I want to talk about why this cover. We can talk about it later because it’s natural. It happened. And the world needs to read that book on the sky and the hole in the sky. We love you, buddy. 

Andi Simon: This is such a wonderful way to introduce you. And maybe we will start almost with the book for a moment. But for my listeners, you know, before we jump in, I just want to give you a little context. Maryles Casto was born in the Philippines and lives in the United States and has for most of her life. She’s a successful leader. But when you hear her story, she really is an explorer. And there’s something about the way she has tackled her life and built something really special that’s so important to share.

But here’s a quote that I think captures it. And remember, I’m an explorer. Sometimes I’m a philosopher or a futurist. But Maryles, listen, I care a great deal because we’ve been to 37 countries, not to the Philippines yet, but this is the way we discover. I’ve yet to see a problem where the best solution is to hide or be ignorant. It’s only through contact with other cultures and peoples, and in their contact with us, that we can hope to bridge the divide between people of the world.

As an anthropologist, my job is to help people see and feel and think in new ways through a fresh lens. And today, that’s just what we’re going to do. So I’m not going to read your bio, but I’m going to ask you to talk to our audience about your own journey. You started in the Philippines. You came here. You capture it much better than I could ever.

And then what we’ll do is, we’ll sort of migrate into the lessons learned, the things that you, the wisdoms, you want others to understand. The kind of sharing person that you are and the kind of glorious life that you’ve lived. Maryles, please. Who’s Maryles and how is this book been sort of this triumph of what’s happened? Because we’ll come back to your book. 

Maryles Casto: Okay. So let me tell you a story. I was born in the Philippines, and I was raised on a sugar plantation. So that was my background with my family and I think my inspiration really comes from my mother because she was always so kind and because we were privileged. My friends were all the workers, the children of the workers. So I developed a kind of relationship where there was no class basis for me. I mean, everybody is the same. And so I really valued that.

But also, my father was my closest friend. And I learned a lot from my father as well. And my father was very competitive. I remember one time, and this was when I was growing up in the Philippines, we have a fair every year, and so I was entered as one of the contestants. I wanted to be the queen. I wanted to win. It really started about wanting to win. We arranged it. There were three candidates. And the big dinner that night, it was a gala dinner, and they were contributing money in the ballot box.

And I was watching my father, and I was competing with the Chinese woman. The father was very wealthy, and the father kept putting some money into the ballot box and my father was doing nothing and I thought, doesn’t he realize I need to win. But what I did not realize, and this is my father’s competition. You never let the competition know what you’re doing. But he had already positioned somebody who was standing very close to the ballot box. And at the very last minute, maybe a minute before it closed, he drops this whole bundle of money. That’s when I became the queen. 

Andi Simon: Uh, that was not deception, but that was smart. 

Maryles Casto: Smart because he knew that he had to do it this way. And so I learned that, and that I was one of my first lessons in my business. I can be very open, but also never give, you know, everything that you can in the competition. I never liked schooI because I always wanted to be outside. I get very bored, especially when they tell you to do number one, number two, number three. And all I could think about is, why not do number ten? What do we have to go through this whole process of developing?

And I also couldn’t pay attention. I didn’t realize at that time that my world was outside and I was very mischievous. And I remembered one time when they were trying, it was a Catholic school run by the nuns who were very strict. Of course, the rebel in me already said, I don’t like to lose. I don’t like this, and I don’t like you in a way. I was in class and I was doing something mischievous. And anyway, I was reported. And so they punished me. They punished me by walking around with this garbage can on my head.

And so what did I do? I went into the classrooms and then I started dancing. So they didn’t know what to do with me. But I created the whole fiesta. So I was already learning through all these things that I was doing, and I think I applied a lot of that in my business world because I never saw the challenges. I always just went. And I thought that, you know, I’m going to try it. 

So I was in the Philippines. I ended up being a flight stewardess, and at the time, being a flight stewardess was the top of the field because when you were traveling, you were entertaining. And I learned so much when you were a flight attendant at that time. It took two months to train. You had to learn about the client’s needs. It was very much anticipating the client’s needs. A passenger came on board. That was your responsibility to make sure that they remembered what the flight was about. And you remembered everything about the passenger.

So I was very focused on the passenger’s relationship and how they felt. I was in the Philippines a long time, and I had never dated an American, and I was introduced to this American. And needless to say, after two days, I decided I was going to marry him. Of course, he didn’t know anything about it. But when we have a mindset, he couldn’t say no because I was determined. So needless to say, after that he fell in love with me, of course.

And so we got married and I had to break this news to my father. Ah. My father. My father’s Spanish, my mother’s half Swiss. And he thought that this was just going to be one of those little romances. He had no idea that I was going to get married and move to this country. And it just broke his heart. But I was determined to come to this country, and I did. But my husband did not have any money. We had money, but my husband did not. And so it came to fruition when we were on our honeymoon, when all of a sudden we had to go on that $5 a day. Remember that book?

And I thought, this is not going to work, because if I was hungry, I wanted to have this restaurant here. Now, we had to walk for 20 minutes to find a restaurant that was in that book. I hated that book. And then I realized that this was changing my life. And when we arrived in the United States, I had nothing. You couldn’t fly as an airline stewardess if you were married. So I knew I had to do something.

I remember one time we were going into this grocery store, and my husband was showing me comparison shopping, and I thought, why? And even now, I’m sorry to laugh. No, but, honey, I’m reading my book, and I’m laughing because I remember all this. I remember looking at this mayonnaise and he would say, well, what mayonnaise should you buy because of the ounces? And I thought, I have no idea. All I know is, it’s my level.

But I think my message is, I was having so much fun. Everything I did, I enjoyed. I was too passionate and so finally he said, you have to find a job. And so I thought, well, I don’t have any experience. So he said, well what about Avon. And then I read something about Avon. So I thought, I can do that.

So first I had to learn about cold calling because I’d never done anything cold calling. So we would practice. And this is so much fun, I mean, reliving what we had to go through. So I went on a cold call and I was petrified, I wouldn’t get out of the car. I would knock on the door. Finally, I ended up buying all my things. And so I did not make any money and that was not my job. So I quit that and then ended up working for Macy’s in the gift department, wrapped all the gifts, and I was so bad they fired me.

So I thought, I’ve got to do something. And then a girlfriend said, why don’t you become a travel agent? And that is how my world opened up. And when I started working for agencies, my first client in one agency that I worked with was Intel, and they were just a hundred people. And then I had GE. And so I started working in the corporate market. But I didn’t last long because the owner was horrible. One thing I learned is, he did not take care of the employees. It was all about him and his family. But none of us were able to participate on trips.

So I learned a lot about what not to do from him. And so, my girlfriend and I were running the corporate department. She was running the vacations, and I was getting so frustrated. And my husband said, why don’t you start your own. I was petrified, I’d never done anything like this. But, you know, you try it. And with $1500 each, we partnered together and we opened this agency.

But I did not tell anybody where we were going. I did not tell our clients. And so we opened this little agency in Los Altos. We had no money. We had Repo Depot, I mean, you know, name it. It’s the same Silicon Valley how it started up, holding the hole in the ceiling. And I waited and waited and there was no clients because I had not told anybody. So I decided I was going to go cold calling, things that I hated the most.

But I was dressed to the hilt, I had on my high heels, and I started walking around in the Silicon Valley park, and I was walking. And then I saw this gentleman that was standing, uh, it was a company called Rome Rollin. And of course they were bought by IBM. Very, very big now. And there was the owner, I think was in there in one of the corner suites with a glass window. And he was looking at me because I was pacing back and forth and he thought I was a street walker. You can not say the first street walker. And all of a sudden my heel broke.

And so I’m limping towards this receptionist and I said, I need to see that man in the corner. And at that time, in the valley, you don’t need reservations, you don’t need appointments. Everybody could just walk in. So I walked in and he came out and then we became friends. And that was really the start of the whole Silicon Valley movement, because he was one of the founders. And through him, I started getting more and more business and then I got Steve Jobs and I got Apple. So it went crazy. And then again, I could talk about my story, but I know that there might be questions you might probably want to ask me.  

Andi Simon: Well, but you see, in some ways you’ve given us a nice foundation for how to begin the challenges of, I don’t know how to do that, and I really don’t like to do this, but I tried that. And next thing you know, you and your friend and you still have to find some customers. And this isn’t sort of it. They don’t drop into your lap. Although I must confess that if you hang out, all of a sudden things begin to happen. You were talking to them and learning from them.

You began to craft something other than booking a ticket on a plane to go somewhere. And what I loved about what you did was that you created something far bigger. And I have a hunch you began to see things that they would ask for and you’d figure out how to do. But I’m putting words into your mouth. So how did you grow? Because you didn’t grow a little. You grow with a whole different mindset completely. 

Maryles Casto: It was so fast. And I think there were so many. We were growing so fast. We couldn’t control our growth. And, you know, since I was, and we talk about how you felt as being the first woman because there really was no one, there was no other woman. There were men in my industry, but I never even thought about it. All I knew was that I was not going to fail. I was going to do whatever it took to be successful, and I was damn good. I was very, very good. And I believed in that. Yes, because if you can’t believe in what you or your company is, how can you even go out and sell?

So I knew I would be pitching. I’d go in and before, I would pitch directly to the vice president or the presidents. But as it changed, you have to go through purchasing, you have to go through all this. So the dynamics change. But on a 1:1, give me the CEO. And I was a CEO and I would always say, I’m in the same seat as you are. If I founded this company with $1,500, and I would have this argument with Steve because I said, if you weren’t given the $200 million, where would you be? So I was very respectful of them.

But I also thought, you know, tell me when you have started your company on your own with the seat of your pants, and then I’ll respect you more. So don’t get any baloney about all this, you know, because anyway, I just went ahead. I just focused and I thought, I will make this happen. And again the growth.

But then we also suffered because we couldn’t perform as much as we wanted to because we were making mistakes. And finally I said, stop it. We’re not accepting any clients. We have to figure out what is wrong with our company, because there definitely was something wrong. We were not delivering the product we talked about. We were not paying attention to the customer.

So I decided we would clean house and we were hiring people we shouldn’t have hired, I learned. And so gradually when we started saying, we can’t accept the account, we can’t accept. And then they respected me for that. And then gradually we started fixing. We did our own training. I’m very focused on customer service. For me it is my religion. And you have to pay attention.

And it’s not what you do. It’s what the clients are asking for. And even long before that, I started doing profiles. Each of my clients that had this black book, I would write everything. Who wanted coffee, what kind of newspaper they had, every single detail. This was before anybody thought about putting it all down, but I did.

And then I also came up with a new service. I decided I was going to do my own Visa passport. I did not want anything touching my client except me. So anything they needed, not just the travel part of it, it’s how you get to the airport. So I had airport service, people with uniforms. They’re all in the yellow necktie. I had a limo service that would pick up all my VIP clients. They didn’t have to ask me. I anticipated every move they made because my responsibility is, one, they call Casto. 

I was responsible for them from when they left for the airport or when they left their home until I brought them home. I was sitting on that flight with them. I was getting in the car with them. I was in the hotel with them. I thought about only the clients, so. And I made sure everyone in our company understood that we don’t survive without our clients, but we have to think ahead and anticipate whatever they need. 

Andi Simon: Let’s think about it, though, because nobody came and said to you, you’re missing a major part of the business. You’re selling. You weren’t selling anything, really. What you had done is become a colleague of your clients, right? An extraordinarily important part of their experiences. You were and it’s really a beautiful story about, it’s not a travel ticket. It’s not a limousine. It’s this whole experience where I don’t want you to have to worry about a thing. And I understand the whole. So you didn’t even have to tell them, do you want this or do you want that? You said, I got it all mapped out for you. You don’t have to worry. 

Maryles Casto: One call. 

Andi Simon: One call. Now, how did you begin to scale? Because often I have entrepreneurs who arrive at 10 million or 20 million and want to scale to 100 million, and they’re not sure how to do that. You scaled and you started to talk about training. I mean, that’s really what we’re talking about here, is scaling. How did you do it? 

Maryles Casto: Well, I started buying agencies again. Recession, remember when we had this major recession. And I thought, this is an opportunity, I can buy now. And I decided I was buying agencies, but strategically, I had 15 offices all over the United States because it had to be a very strategic move. And by the time, we had offices everywhere, but we were also very strategic. I did not want to just be Silicon Valley. I would be putting all my eggs in one basket. So my offices were in San Jose, in Palo Alto.

I decided I needed a different kind of a base. I needed the banks. I needed a government contract. So I went to San Francisco and expanded my business there. And then I decided I needed 24 hour service because a client doesn’t end at 5:30. When they travel, what happens? You know, they have to have a way of calling us. I didn’t want them to call the airlines. They were my clients. They were my responsibility.

I couldn’t grow in Silicon Valley anymore because we were all looking for the same, we needed people. So I was having lunch with one of the senators who had come to the Valley for a business opportunity, and he was the senator from South Dakota. And he said to me, you know, South Dakota, we could use some business. So I had never been to South Dakota, Rapid City. So I flew there with him. He said, let’s just check it out. So we put a blind ad to just say that we were coming for interviews. We got 500. Work for you. 

Andi Simon: Wow. 

Maryles Casto: There is a market here. But what I wanted to do was put my training there. But I also wanted my 24 hour service. No one was offering 24 hour service at that time. The airlines were, but not any travel agency. So these were all the things.

I shouldn’t say I, because there were a lot of people involved. But I would say I had the vision that you have to look at and say, what now? What else can you do? How can you enhance your service? But what is it that the clients need? And so as we were developing the corporate market, there was no one who could touch us in the corporate market because we had every account there was. And I also worked very closely with a lot of the venture people. So when they were funding companies, of course, for travel, I owned it.

Andi Simon: Branded you, right? They endorsed you and you just came along. 

Maryles Casto: Yeah. I would say, you know, you’re funding this company. How do you know they’re protecting you? You know, travel is the second largest expense. Working with me, I will guarantee you, because I also bought stock for all these companies because I thought we have to be investors as well. So even if it’s small. But I felt that every flight I was looking at that as a shareholder.

Andi Simon: You are so wise. And so it’s fascinating listening to you because once you got going, nothing stopped. You just keep figuring out pieces. You said something important, though, and it’s not a bad time to sort of migrate into the team. How did you support yourself around you with smart people? And what were you looking for in that team? They gave you the ability to multiply. They were your multipliers. What kinds of folks came in and how? One of the things that I read was that you treated this like a family.  

Maryles Casto: I wanted them to feel proud. I bought my partner out after two years, I felt like she was so worried about expanding. She was so worried about losing money. And I thought, you know what, we’re still very small. If we lost money, if we went belly up, I want to build it up myself. I don’t want to drag her down. So I bought her out.

And then we had to come up with a name because at that time, I think we had nine employees. When I bought her out, she wanted to do the vacation side only. She was not interested in the rest of it. So I had to come up with them and I said, okay, what is our name going to be? Because our original name was Travel Experience.

And so we had this powwow and they said, well, why don’t we call it Casto, it’s your name. And I thought, no, I have to be very careful because if I give you my name, you have to guarantee you’re going to back it up. It’s not just about me, it’s about all of us. So I then created this where they had to belong to this elite group, which happened to be customer travel. So I had all of us in uniform. They helped design this uniform, and we would go to all the functions in our uniform. 

Andi Simon: But you know the symbolic meaning of that. You know, you’re a meaning maker and the symbolism is not inconsequential. They belonged. People wanted to belong. And therefore they knew how to behave, how to think. And they took it home to their families, and they were part of something much bigger than just having a job. Correct? 

Maryles Casto: Yeah. I made them very proud of being part of us. I said, it’s not me, it’s us. The Casto is you together. Of course, everybody thought it was Castro. And they look at me and say, oh, Castro. No. There’s no answer. But you know what it was. I mean, we had so much fun. We really did. We put events together and the company would come in with different hats. We come in with different costumes. And, I couldn’t wait to get into the office. And they felt the same way. There was so much joy. Lots of sorrow, too. I mean, we cry. I mean, we all shared a divorce. But we were together. 

Andi Simon: Yes. 

Maryles Casto: And that is very important. 

Andi Simon: Amazing, amazing, amazing because you did it and it worked. And it became something well beyond itself. I want to get to your book, but also you grew it and then you added new services and then you began to see it grow, and then you finally sold it. What was the impetus? 

Maryles Casto: Well, you know, when we started the business, about five years later, we got a big offer. This company, and in fact, this is a funny story because this company was a very large company, and they were interested in buying us because they wanted to get into the Silicon Valley when it was just starting. It was getting a lot of attention. And so, they made an offer and I said, no, I didn’t want to, but anyway. And he and I  had a good relationship because when Intel became such a big company, purchasing people came in, and then they decided I was too small now. And they were concerned about my capacity to service them.

So he was very, very large, one of the largest agency in the United States. So they gave him the business. So we partnered together. And so that’s when he really wanted to take my business. And me, I said, no, it wasn’t going to work. So that was the first venture. And the second one was a company that was from Omaha, Nebraska, another very large company. And at that time we had Andy Grove, who became chairman of Intel. And Andy became a very good friend because, again, he was a client and he became a friend because I knew everything about his travel. And he was so paranoid that if I wasn’t going to take care of him, something would happen to his travel.

So the second offer came in and we said, okay, we’ll take it seriously. The gentleman flew in from Omaha and somewhere, somehow, I just did not feel that they were the right partners. They didn’t understand Silicon Valley. And I just felt that it’s not going to grow. It didn’t have the same spirit, they weren’t willing to be, it takes a different personality. So we thought the deal was done. And at the last minute I had to call them to say, okay, you know, we’ve arranged it. I picked up the phone and I couldn’t say yes. I said no, and oh my God, both my son and Andy were furious with me because I said no.

And I said, it just can’t work. So I knew that we had to do something. And because of my son, the offer came in and it was a really good offer, and we knew that the time would come that we would have to exit. And so we sold it two years ago. We sold it a month before the pandemic. 

Andi Simon: Oh, my, timing is everything.  

Maryles Casto: And now I’m a rich woman. 

Andi Simon: But, you know, I have a hunch you’ve been rich through this whole journey, haven’t you? 

Maryles Casto: Yeah, I have, I have, yeah. 

Andi Simon: You know, the financial richness is nice, but at the end of the day, I’m not sure you worked for work’s sake. I think you worked for the absolute...

Maryles Casto: Love of it. 

Andi Simon: For the love, you know, for the joy that you gave others, for the way in which you helped their lives do better. Am I misreading that? And this was spiritual and almost religious on your part, right? Correct. 

Maryles Casto: Yes. It was, it is, and it still is. I still communicate with the people that, when we sold the company, we always kept the Philippines. The Philippines when we were growing so fast and we knew that we had to expand. I wanted to expand internationally, and I knew it was either India or the Philippines, and I knew the Philippines because I was from the Philippines and I knew the customer service, all the technology driven, because our business was very technology driven. I knew it was about personal travel and I knew that hospitality. It’s like somebody said, it’s Asian hospitality with Yankee business sense. That’s how somebody describes me. 

Andi Simon: Well, that’s terrific, but that’s a great image of it, right? I mean, because you blended all of these together in such a way that you created a whole new way of doing things. But, my goodness, it worked, and it’s really brilliant listening to you talk about it. Talk about the book. Was this a way of capturing this and having a legacy as a book about this journey that you just shared or something different? 

Maryles Casto: You know, it was something that I knew that I felt like there was a book in the making. I just never got the chance to sit down. And this was after we sold the company, and I was in the house and I was meeting with some friends, and just all of a sudden it just came to me. I had to write my book. I said, I’m ready for that. And I thought the story had to be told.

I wanted other people to read what I went through and how much I have enjoyed my life. And I wondered, my grandchildren, maybe not now, but later on when they’re older. Of course I dedicated the book for them, but I don’t think they fully understood the challenges. But when they’re grown. And maybe one day when they have a business, they can look at my book and say, you know what, Grandma did something.  And I have to share the coverage. And remember, I was covered. 

Andi Simon: Yeah. Tell us about the cover. 

Maryles Casto: This cover was an actual one. And when I decided when we were doing so well and I thought, we needed exposure now. We wanted people to know more about Casto Travel, not just in the Valley, but other areas as well. And so I had this girlfriend who started her own business, a PR business. And so I called her as a brand and said, listen, I’m ready to do something. I want the exposure of Casto more globally or more internationally or more regionally. And so she said, okay.

So San Jose Mercury News was going to do an article and the photographer said, I can do your shot, but I don’t want to do it here. I have an idea. Meet me at the airport at 6:00 in the morning and we’ll do a shoot. And I said, oh my God, what is this about? So I met him at the airport and he had this truck, and in this truck was this desk. And he told me, bring the thing that you really want to put on the table. And I said, okay. But I thought, well, maybe it’s just at the airport.

So I brought these two doves or two birds, because Casto Travel is all about birds because that was my logo. I want to fly. I want to spread my wings. So I brought these two birds and then I thought, where are we going? He said, just follow me. And at that time, nobody can tell you, there’s no security, no nothing. So he drove this guy and his truck to the runway, and he put the desk in. He said, no, we’ll stay here. Let’s get this all organized and let’s wait for the plane. I said, wait for the plane. It took three hours to get just the angle. 

Andi Simon: Oh, God. 

Maryles Casto: I’ll put it up. I thought I had to use this book. 

Andi Simon: Just come in so we can see it, put it up again and hold it there for a second. Ah, so that’s you. And that’s the plane over you and this story is as beautiful as the cover of the book. We would not know why that book cover is so important, but that is cool. That captures you, doesn’t it?  

Maryles Casto: And, you know, the flying was because my father, when we were little, when I was little, and I was growing up, my father had an airplane. He had a small airplane, and he would be traveling from different farms. I always loved to fly. And so my father and I would go up flying. And he would say, okay, Maryles, watch. Look for the hole in the clouds so that we could get in and we could fly higher, and then we would do our maneuvers. And that was in tribute to my father. There is a hole in the cloud, and whatever I do, I always have a hole in the cloud to get out. 

Andi Simon: Yeah, but your whole life has been finding that hole in the clouds and soaring up through this to get on top. This is something. Sometimes I ask the people I’m interviewing about some lessons that you wish someone had told you then. But I think that your story isn’t easy to capture in a lesson or two. Unless there’s something you think your younger self wishes somebody had told you. Is there something that you can share? 

Maryles Casto: Oh gosh, somebody told me and so many people told me things. I don’t know. For me, it’s maybe kindness. For me, it’s not a word we use a lot, and it’s time for us to be kind to each other. And you don’t have to be a jerk. No, really, and I, this was my actual experience. I was invited by United Airlines to go to the Academy Awards. At the time, we were big producers of United. And so I went.

And then that night, this was Pretty Woman. Remember that, Julia Roberts? Anyway, we were staying at this beautiful hotel, and when we were being picked up in the limo, they were invited too, Larry Allison was invited with his girlfriend, and she was just fantastic looking. And then John Chambers from Cisco, so we were all going together. And when we got down, the limo was there, the door opened, and Larry Allison came in and he closed the door. He says, I don’t share my limo. This is an actual story. I don’t share my room.

And so we just looked at him because at that time, you can’t find any limo, especially Academy Awards night. So he drove off and we had to find another limo. And that’s when it’s the yin and yang. And I said, you know, you really are a jerk. And here’s John Chambers. He was so sweet. I mean, the difference between the personalities. And again, I just feel like, if you could just show a little bit more kindness and don’t get into your ego. The ego is nothing. What does it really mean?  

Andi Simon: Yeah. That’s beautiful. The joy that you can give, the kindness that you can show elevates you and someone else. And then an act of kindness that stayed in your mind as a moment that you never want to do again. How can I be kind? Correct. 

Maryles Casto: Okay. And that’s why I think I’m doing what I’m doing now. I suppose I mentioned to you that I’m starting my foundation because that is what it is really about. I’ve been so fortunate. And look at me. I’m now into my old age and I love it. I love what I’ve lived, and I mean that I love it. For me, aging is not a disease. It’s something to celebrate. How many of us can say, I’ve lived it. 

Andi Simon: I know, but that’s so important because it’s true. We’re at a point now where we can be. We don’t have to become. We can just enjoy the moment.  

Maryles Casto: Exactly. I love the whole process of aging. My body is what it is now, and I celebrate everything I have. I celebrate my hair. I no longer am going to dye my hair because I just love being white. I’m doing it. And I think that probably my message is just as we all go through our lives, enjoy the moments you have and don’t worry about the rest of the nonsense. There’s so much of that. 

Andi Simon: I’m going to I wish I didn’t have to, but we’re going to say goodbye and I’m going to thank you. Thank you for joining me today. Thank you, Edie, for introducing you. But I can understand why her friendship and yours transformed both of you over time. Because Edie is quite remarkable. This has been a gift to me and to our listeners. So thank you.

So I’m going to say to our listeners, thank you for coming to On the Brink. I know that today has taken you off the brink. And then we’re going to all soar. But the message is kindness and acts of kindness bring joy. So let’s not just be nice, help each other also. In our book Women Mean Business: Over 500 Insights from Extraordinary Leaders to Spark Your Success that Edie Frazier and myself have written with 102 women about their wisdoms. And like what you heard today from Maryles Casto, the wisdoms help change your own lives.

And I will tell you that every event that we’re running, people share their wisdom a little like this podcast. And when they do, they are changing. And I’ve had people who keep coming back and saying, let me tell you what I heard and what I want to share again, and what I care about and what I’m now becoming. I had one woman who had yellow marks on the whole book, and I went, oh my goodness, and couldn’t wait to show me her yellow marks. She says, I’m a better leader today. And I went, man, can a book do that? It can. And Maryles Casto, thank you for joining us. So I’m going to thank you so much. Remember everybody to take your ideas, your observations, turn them into innovations. And you too can soar, like Maryles says. 

Maryles Casto: Bye bye.


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