We live in a culture that denies fear. I guess that’s not surprising considering how uncomfortable cold, raw fear is. But it’s a disservice because if there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that you cannot run from fear, and you definitely cannot hide.

Before Samovar Tea Lounge, I had a “killer” job in high-tech. My fear then was that I would never leave. Golden handcuffs bound me 10 hours a day to a life that was compromised. Uninspired. After I finally drew the courage to change and started Samovar, customers would walk in asking for coffee, or if we were a Chinese restaurant—and leave me haunted by visions of it all coming crashing down.

Luckily, I’ve been able to draw on some incredible friends and supporters. With their help, I’ve found the strength, and the strategies to make it work.

I recently had a chance to share tea with one dear friend as a part of my new Samovar Tea Talks video series. Susan Piver, author of How Not To Be Afraid Of Your Own Life and six other books (including a NYT Bestseller), has led a truly surpising—yet quintessentially American—life. After facing a mountain of challenges, she’s become something of a connoisseur of fear and has developed a refined perspective on it. The way she describes it, fear is not some tormentor, or demon. Fear is, simply put, a pure energy of vitality. Potent, uncomfortable and ultimately empowering.

For Susan, fear is a compass pointing to areas rich with potential for growth. As she says, “If you’re not scared, you’re not in the game.”

After accepting that she couldn’t run from fear, Susan learned to draw on strategies for confronting it head-on, over the years learning to open her heart to difficult situations and eventually becoming a student of meditation, and now a teacher.

I met Susan in 1995, but until our tea talk I never knew the extent of her personal struggles and achievements. I don’t want to give away too much, but here are a few things we discussed:

- how she flunked 8th grade, never went to college—and then published six books including a New York Times bestseller
- how she overcame her phobia of flying through the kindness of strangers
- how she went from Austin cocktail waitress to music industry executive
- advice for recent college grads and anyone in the job market
- advice on love, heart break, and things to consider before tying the knot
- how she flunked meditation instruction—and then went on to launch The Open Heart Project: an unconventional meditation school

Susan has been an inspiration, and friend. I’m proud to know her and very excited to introduce her to you.

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