YLYW Interview #8: Susan Biali’s Scanner Lifestyle

I’m not sure this blog can take any more hotness.

What is it with the successful entrepreneurs and authors featured in the Your Life YOUR Way Interview series all being so damn gorgeous!? They’re smart, enthusiastic and great at what they do, that’s a given. But have you noticed how goodlooking they all are too? Wasn’t intentional, promise!

Introducing Susan Biali, the multi-talented, multi-skilled writing, dancing and doctoring phenomenon from Vancouver.

When I reached out to Susan for this series, she read my blog and started a wonderful email exchange that has both of us excited to meet IRL (in real life).

Like me, she’s a Scanner and has had a multitude of careers & interests, all of which she’s pursued with passion  – Doctor. Flamenco Dancer. Best Selling Author. Writer. Contributor to Psychology Today, Cosmopolitan, Readers Digest & news channels like NBC, CBS & ABC.

If you’ve ever wondered how to embrace ALL of your passions and still make a great living doing what you love, here’s a shining example of someone who has.

Susan’s written a bestseller “Live a Life You Love: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You” and you know what that means 🙂 Yes, a giveaway!! Read on, leave a comment & be on your way to winning!

I’m already whooping for joy as I re-read it myself.

1. What does Your Life YOUR Way mean to you? When did you realise you were living life your way and how did that make you feel?

Living my life my way means doing whatever I feel my soul calling me to do next, no matter if everyone else seems to think I’m nuts or wrong (or should I say ESPECIALLY if everyone else thinks I’m wrong – I’ve learned that that’s a pretty sure sign that I’m on the right track).

One occasion in which I realized I was fully living my life my own way was when I woke up in the little house on the beach I was renting in Los Cabos, Mexico and realized that I was living the dream – I was living in a foreign country, dancing/writing/coaching/speaking for a living, and my days were whatever I wanted to make of them.

That for me was heaven.

What felt best about it was being able to celebrate that what I had believed for years really was true: when you follow your crazy ideas and the things that your heart is begging you to do, amazing things happen and life becomes a grand adventure, full of surprises and all kinds of unexpected treats.

Life has thrown me some curveballs in the two years that have passed since my time living on that beach, but I’m always charting my course based on what I feel my heart wants/needs me to do next, even if I temporarily end up on stormy seas or having to skirt an unexpected (and not always welcome) large body of land.

2. Many people fail to get going because they have so many passions that they can’t decide which one to pick. How did YOU discover and pick (if you had more than 1) a passion you could turn into a business / career you love?

I simply tried out different ones, one after the other as urge and inspiration struck me.

After resigning from my Emergency Medicine residency at age 28 and committing to creating a new, creative life, I started by taking dance classes. I had my sights on performing professionally from the beginning, but it would be a few years until I was good enough (or had enough chutzpah) to start making any real income from it.

I fell in love with photography by accident while traveling and tried making it into a business for a while.

I had some gallery shows and magazine work and did portraits of dancers performing, but soon found that the income wasn’t enough to justify the time it took to pull a show together, market the work, fulfill orders, etc.

Shortly after I started dance classes I began submitting articles to different magazines, quickly got columns in a couple of national publications, and continue to make a significant income as a writer to this day, ten years later.

To date I’ve earned more income from my writing than at any other of my passionate pursuits. Speaking has also turned out to be very lucrative (especially when I combine it with my dancing on stage).

So it has been a process of trying different things, following the natural flow of my interests or obsession of the moment, and observing where the greatest success came from. The results and responses I’ve gotten, income-wise, have also shown me which of these are my most valuable and impactful talents.

I also pay close attention to how something makes me feel – I made income from teaching dancing for a while, in Mexico, but quickly realized that it sapped my own creative energies and wasn’t an ideal use of my time and talents even though it was a source of income for a time.

3. A common refrain amongst people who are stuck between wanting to follow their passion & their many responsibilities is the fear of “I don’t have money / time / don’t know how to make it work / what if it doesn’t work out, how will I survive?!”.

What was the biggest challenge / fear YOU faced in turning your passion into a living and how did you take the first step in getting past it?

I think the biggest fear that I faced is that what I dreamed of doing and knew that I HAD to do was not logical or in any way an obvious formula for success.

It simply isn’t logical to leave a stable predictable career practicing medicine and move to a foreign country to become a dancer, especially if you haven’t been dancing that long and you’re not actually that good at it.

I never gave up my medical license, and still practice now part time, but it was still a radical and rather ridiculous leap for a doctor to do what I did. If anyone had analyzed my probability of success based on any number of concrete factors, the odds would have been miserable.

But that’s where the magic came in – I knew that I knew that I knew that I had to do it, so I just did.

And the results still blow my mind today.

Yet today, I’m at another crossroads, working up the courage to take yet another leap. I’m more successful than I was back when I took my first big leap, and the success that arose from that initial leap means I’ve now gotten used to a certain income and sense of security from that – ironically, now taking a leap again, even though I’ve done it before, is even more difficult!

It’s never easy to go against the odds, to go against the logical, and do what you feel is calling you. Even if it worked last time, you’re still staring down the unknown and there are all kinds of ways to talk yourself out of it. At your own peril.

4. Knowing what you know now and seeing how successful you are, what ONE most important piece of advice would you have given yourself when you were first starting out & is there anything you would have done differently?

My ideal would be for me to act on EVERY SINGLE ONE of my gut-felt heart-felt impulses.

I have a fear of reaching the end of my life and being shown by God what would have happened if I’d listened every time to His quiet voice in my heart telling me to do this thing, to try that thing, to take that risk.

I would like one day to reach a place where I live so purely on purpose and am so brave that I trust and immediately act on all clear instincts unfailingly.

I have a feeling that that’s the advice I’ll end up wanting to give my young self from my deathbed – that it was wonderful that I was so brave on so many occasions, but that I really should have been brave and intuitive and decisive on EVERY occasion that called for it.

5. Being an entrepreneur requires commitment and discipline in both mindset and marketing. What are your best daily / weekly habits & practices that help you stay inspired, productive & making progress especially when it gets “tough” to keep going?

One of the biggest secrets of my success has been working with the media. I love doing radio, television and written work, and make any media requests for an opinion or contribution an absolute priority when they come along.

It’s free publicity, great credibility, and a fabulous way to market what I do while simultaneously helping out a writer/editor/producer and giving useful information to the public. Win win win.

Plus it helps that I enjoy it so much, it energizes me and the media’s interest in my work also makes me feel optimistic about my future through the tough times.

I give time to all arms of my business in any given week (I’ve never been one to just focus and go deep in one thing) – my activities might include phone meetings with potential speaking clients, coaching coaching clients, writing paid articles or blog posts, and attending private and group flamenco lessons to continually improve my level of flamenco dancing.

No week is the same, but I’m always moving my businesses forward, forward, forward, even if one area is just inching along the forward growth is what’s important.

Personality testing has taught me that I actually do best without fixed structure, I thrive in an atmosphere of spontaneity and having multiple balls in the air at once, even if I occasionally drop one here or there.

Any last words?

Not really! Just do what you love, be yourself, and then watch one amazing thing happen after another. So simple, yet so astoundingly impactful. The only way to live, in my opinion. The ONLY way.

Thanks for interviewing me!

Want More? Dr. Susan Biali, M.D. is an internationally recognized wellness expert, speaker, life coach, author and flamenco dancer. Formerly clinically depressed, Dr. Biali reinvented and revitalized herself by extensively studying how to create a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life. Today she draws from her wide range of expertise and experiences to offer hope and practical tools to people worldwide. www.susanbiali.com

An award-winning physician, Dr. Biali holds both a Doctorate of Medicine and Bachelor of Science in Dietetics. She is regularly consulted by and appears in international media including Fox News, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, CTV and Global as well as Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Chatelaine and the Chicago Tribune.

She blogs for Psychology Today and Wellsphere.com, is an “Embrace Life” expert for Reader’s Digest Best Health magazine, and is the author of the bestselling book Live a Life You Love!: Seven Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You.

(Wow! I’m truly gobsmacked at how much adventure, passion and success Susan’s fit into her life already. I’d be a tad envious if I wasn’t just so happy and excited to meet someone who’s blazin’ a trail and living her life HER way. Susan, let’s do that dinner / coffee soon!)

I’d love to hear from you dear reader, what did you like about Susan’s interview? Did it spark something in you? Are there any dreams you’ve been squishing ‘cos you don’t see how you could make it work? Do tell 🙂 Lurkers, this one’s especially for you!

Leave a comment & you’ll be entered in a draw to win her book. Oh, and do share this interview on facebook & twitter if you liked it – just hit the “like” button below, thanks!

Facebook comments:



  1. says

    Inspiring interview, Tia! Learning to trust our heart’s desires and then having the courage to go for it, is a grand adventure. Thank you, Susan for dancing with radical freedom.

    • says

      Hey Dawnita, great to see you here! The first part is finding/knowing it (your heart’s desire), the second is owning it and the third is just going for it and living it. Susan shows us just how it’s done. Fantastic story!

      So what sort of challenges do you face? Is it the finding, the owning or the living it? Thanks for stopping by!

  2. says

    I was especially struck by Susan’s recognition that taking the next big risk is no easier than the first, or maybe even harder. Is it harder because you have higher personal expectations of yourself? Or because, when you’re able to earn more money, the security is harder to relinquish? It’s as if the higher you climb the ladder the greater the risk if you’d fall. A conundrum. It must take great courage to keep up the pace. When is it ever enough success, or excitement, or money for you to relax and enjoy it? Knowing Susan, she’ll figure out a way to deal with this problem. Might just be the topic of her next book, eh, Susan?

    • says

      I must admit, I was a little surprised when I read that part too Ginny. We think that just cos someone’s really successful and famous and rich, that everything’s a dream from then on. The reality is that no matter what you do or who you are, the circle of life brings change and challenges and new opp every day. It’s how you deal with that, that makes your experience or breaks it.

      Also, when you don’t have much there isn’t much to lose. Psych studies show that the fear of loss is a FAR greater motivator for people than the idea of gaining something. We’ll cling onto what we have even if it doesn’t serve us cos we don’t know who we’d be without it. We get attached to things, people, behaviours, thoughts etc. The higher you go the further there is to fall, that’s one reason it gets harder to take more risks.

      One way around this? Make everything the pursuit of adventure and experiences. Instead of getting attached to success, money and all the trappins, what if we said “Hmm I’ve experienced this, now I still want to have the lifestyle I want but I want xyz experience more so I’m willing to make a compromise” knowing that no matter what, you’d be okay.

      It does require awareness and checking in with your values to see if they have changed, seeing what your comfort level is and what you’re making more important that your heart’s desires. What do you think of my take on it>

      I’m finding it hard to stop thinking about this topic, could be a blog post soon! Thanks for provoking this angle of thought Ginny!

  3. says

    Hi Tia,

    Coming into your interview series a bit late. Will comb through the predecessors!

    I love this line of Susan’s, “My ideal would be for me to act on EVERY SINGLE ONE of my gut-felt heart-felt impulses.”

    Many folks get the impulse but do not act on it. It becomes really easy to let Mrs. Fear talk you out of doing things.

    Even easy things like going to see a poetry open mic night. I used to circle things, get all excited and then get afraid and ditch the circled event. Then I made a new pact with myself, if I circle it, I’m going! Attending the above poetry open mic six years ago lead me to meet some fabulous people who had a major impact on my life. What would I have missed if I hadn’t gone and instead stayed home to watch a reality tv show?

    Let fear be your guide! If there’s no fear, it may not be worth doing.

    Enjoyed it! Giulietta

    • says

      Julie, I’m finding it hard to pick my fave parts of Susan’s interview – everything is SO honest, open, insightful and inspiring. What a great example of how things happen when you get out of your comfort zone and get into action.

      And you my dear, love the story of your mic night! Is that circle tactic something you still use today or did you do it to get into the habit of facing your fears?

      And now I have a new fave – Let fear be your guide! If there’s no fear, it may not be worth doing. Thanks for that! Glad you enjoyed the interview 🙂 I’ve got a very cool video coming up Friday!

  4. says

    This is unbelievably great. Reading something like this just makes me want to run out of the house and do something—anything—now, now, now!

    • says

      As your tweet to me said 🙂 When I read that DM, I wanted to run out and do something. LOL! I did – I danced. Oohh the skydive, is there a video!? Off to see!

  5. says

    Hi Tia!

    Wow, this was incredibly inspiring. A great reminder to me to keep doing what I love, what I’m passionate about… and to keep moving forward.

    I especially liked the part about being “brave and intuitive and decisive on EVERY occasion that call[s] for it” – I want to be more like that! 🙂

    • says

      I know right!? To me, Susan is already so incredibly ahead of the norm with her life choices and to think SHE thinks she could have said more Yeses … whooo!

      Decisiveness is definitely doable with diligence in due course. YES WE CAN!

      ps: Still loving that you’re Jessilicious to my Sparkles. Fact: I make words up and my fave term of endearment is adding a “licious” to peoples names – you’ve already got a head start in my faves list 😉

      pps: Every time I see your face and name (that’s TWICE so far) I just get SO happy! Thank you!

    • says

      So true, Mitch. I think it all starts with making a decision to live life full out, and then take leaps of faith one at a time. The first one is the hardest (and then the one you take when things feel comfortable) but if your values say GROW and EXPERIENCE, you’ll find the courage too 🙂

  6. Judy says

    Reading this article is perfect timing, got laid-off, taking to take the BIG step into doing what’s in my heart. How scary is that>???????, Well, I have done it before, I can do it again.
    Thank you for the positive “kick-in-the-fanny”
    Looking forward in more great articles.
    Happy creative New Year to All.

    • says

      Very scary Judy, BUT also VERY EXCITING!! And you are not alone!! We’ve all been there and made it thru the other side (and so have you before) so this time is going to rock its little heart out 🙂 Feel free to come back and ask for support and more loving KITF’s anytime you need hehe. HAPPY almost NEW YEAR!! YAY!!


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