Giving It Your All With Susie Castillo

This is an oldie, but a goodie! Last April I sat down and interviewed my friend Susie Castillo! Susie is a stud and a personal inspiration of mine. She holds the title of Miss USA 2003, she has authored the book “Confidence is Queen: The 4 Keys to Ultimate Beauty Through Positive Thinking,” and is the current host on the Facebook Watch series, Cultural Capital. 

As a television host, Susie takes her job seriously, but it is also a passion of hers — and effectively communicating with people has always been one of her talents. Cultural Captial is similar to the former show, MTV Cribs, but instead of celebrities, it centers around the tech industry. Susie visits up-and-coming start-ups from around the world, getting to view their workspaces, chat with CEOs, and discuss their rise to success. She loves it, and she’s extremely great at it. 

“I did okay in school, but I found it really boring. I was a very creative person, and I liked to talk to people. I enjoyed getting to know people, and so when I interview someone, it’s authentic. I’m not just asking questions because my producer or my director told me here’s a list of questions we want you to ask the CEO. Yeah, I incorporate those questions, but if the person I’m interviewing says something interesting, which oftentimes they do because I’m interested in them, I ask follow-up questions. I treat the conversation as if they were a friend. I think people appreciate that, and I think that’s what makes a good interviewer, someone who is genuinely interested in the other human.” 

That’s the beauty of Susie, she treats every conversation with such authenticity and interest that it allows people to open up to her, and have real conversations. Conversations that go deeper than the surface — where real meaning exists. This isn’t done by accident either. Susie is intentional with her time and focuses on being present in the moment and with the company she finds herself with. 

“To me, you are the most important human being. Right now in this moment because you are the person I’m interacting with. I mean I live in California, God forbid an earthquake happen, and I know this might sound a little morbid to think about or to live this way. But gosh, if there is this huge earthquake that happens and I die in 10 minutes, Tori was the last person I had a conversation with, so what kind of conversation did we have? You know, was I flighty? Was I on my phone while she was talking to me? Being present is so important to me.” 

Taking a step back into her pageant background, Susie was the co-founder of Pageantology. Alongside her friend and fellow Miss USA winner, Shandi Finnessey, they created a pageant curriculum for girls looking to improve their competition performance. From confidence building to interview skill sets, their coaching hit on several different areas to help women see better success. 

For eight years, they held workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions, connecting with countless women as they chased their own crowning moment (I was one of those girls!). At the end of 2020, Pageantology came to an end, but both Susie and Shandi still offer occasional solo training in their spare time. 

One of the biggest obstacles we as women face is confidence struggles, especially when we’re competing against other talented, beautiful women. Our self-doubt quickly spirals out of control, and we see ourselves comparing our bodies, intelligence, humor, and every other characteristic. Soon, we’ve deflated our confidence. Susie has seen this in her own life, and in the lives of all the girls she has coached over the years. 

“I think focusing on the things that you love about yourself, and having that positive self-talk, practicing it on a daily basis, like constantly all day long definitely helps. Shandi and I always tell our clients to have a word. When you’re on stage in evening gown, when you’re on stage in swimsuit, if you want to be sexy, have that word going through your mind as you’re walking on stage.” 

But ultimately, Susie says nothing will help your confidence more than preparing for it. Whatever that moment is, prepping for that moment will give you the most confidence in yourself. Did someone say retweet??? 

When that moment comes your way, Susie encourages you to not fixate on the outcome. Sometimes life doesn’t go the way we wish, and all we can do is our best. Not winning a pageant isn’t a failure, it’s just not the result we hoped for — it doesn’t mean you didn’t deserve it. Focus on the big picture and keep knocking on doors because eventually, the right one will open. 

Like I mentioned, one thing I really admire about Susie is her constant authenticity. I think we all know how rare that can be today… so how does she do it? 

She’s a big believer in the quote, “comparison is the thief of joy.” To be authentic we need to be comfortable in our own skin, and that means identifying the things we do love about ourselves — and focusing on those aspects. 

Which leads to her daily habits. Susie’s success isn’t just luck and good fortune. She’s worked hard to be where she’s at. Her success is due to her own creation, and part of that plays into her day-to-day routine. Her two biggest:  

  1. Write down your goals and look at them daily 
  2. Give yourself positive affirmations on a regular basis 

“If you really want something, work hard. I know it sounds so simple, but at the end of the day, all the other things you have to do to be successful in life will come from hard work. Having that great work ethic is what’s going to push you to do tons of research. It’s going to be what pushes you to read more books, be more knowledgeable about whatever it is you’re getting into… Be moldable too. As you go along in life and things aren’t going a certain way and sometimes God or the universe is nudging us. That’s all it is, they’re nudging us to go onto a different path. So be open to that. Don’t be rigid and closed off.”