Dr. Nazlie Latefi: “Educate people to believe in science and each other”

Just because no one agrees with you doesn’t mean you are wrong. Listen to Your Needs: When I was in college, I thought about going to medical school, but felt confined by the heavy workload and strict grading. I knew I preferred a more Socratic method of instruction, which led me towards getting a PhD […]

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Just because no one agrees with you doesn’t mean you are wrong. Listen to Your Needs: When I was in college, I thought about going to medical school, but felt confined by the heavy workload and strict grading. I knew I preferred a more Socratic method of instruction, which led me towards getting a PhD in research.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Nazlie Latefi.

Dr. Nazlie Latefi is the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Applied Biological Laboratories, a company that specializes in the research, development and distribution of natural and exceptionally effective drugs for common respiratory illnesses and their symptoms.

Dr. Latefi also holds many financial certifications, and has written peer reviewed articles for scientific, business and law journals. You can find information on Applied Biological Laboratories here:

Thank you for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Everyone who knows me will tell you I ask a lot of questions. I have always been a very curious person. Science is the greatest mystery there is, it’s much more about questions than answers. We can only ever see a very small piece of what is going on, so we can always improve and that’s where entrepreneurship comes in.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I became an expert in candy-making. Our platform and lead products are antivirals but along the way, we discovered that some of our ingredients are strongly anti-inflammatory. With this, we decided to produce some anti-inflammatory over the counter products to treat sore throat. Lozenges make up a good share of the sore throat market, but to make them, you have to heat sugar to a very high temperature, and at this temperature many of the ingredients we use (since they are all natural) would break down. To ensure this doesn’t happen, we had to tweak the process and make lozenges in a new way. It was a lot of fun for me but also a lot of work. I think I earned an honorary chemistry degree in the process. I am going to use my knowledge to take up candy making as a hobby.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I find it funny that I am working on a respiratory disease as I never set out to do that.

Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are too many people to list here, and they know who they are, but two people who have helped me and that I really miss are my father and one of my PhD mentors, Dr. David Colman. They both passed away within a very short time of each other. They were both also intensely curious like me.

As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

I have found through the years that I get most stressed when I have to multi-task and make too many decisions at once. I am a bit of a perfectionist so I try to limit myself to one or two big things at a time. That way I don’t get overwhelmed.

Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

To do great things you need special, unique, and talented people. You need things that are hard to find in people so you need to look beyond the superficial. You don’t know where you will find the people you need and who because of their unique life experience will have developed the skills and character you are looking for.

As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.

Every person is unique and magical, and I think we must create a society where everyone has the opportunity to develop themselves to the fullest and share their talents with the rest of us. If not, we all lose out on that untapped potential. Someone somewhere has the answer to our problems. We can’t keep looking in the same places and expect to find different answers.

Most of our readers think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

They lead people out of uncertainty… especially true for a startup. “If she is crazy enough to put herself out there then I should too.”

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

That they need to be an alpha male or be aggressive… it’s more about the person’s vision than their personality.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I think a lot of the challenges women face are covert and not out in the open — such as lower salaries, less opportunities for advancement, etc. Numbers don’t lie. I think it’s very important that these things are being brought into the open so women can work together. It’s not something anyone can overcome on their own.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

It’s actually better than I thought it would be. I used to have a hard time delegating but now I enjoy learning new ways of doing things and seeing them done better than I could do.

In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?

I think humility is the most important trait an executive can have. I strongly believe in capitalism but I also believe that companies should only exist if they are creating something useful. In order to that you need to always be learning and changing. You can’t do that without humility.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it but also don’t be scared to go it alone if you need to.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I think the environment and education are the two biggest challenges we are facing today and they are related.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Just because no one agrees with you doesn’t mean you are wrong. Listen to Your Needs: When I was in college, I thought about going to medical school, but felt confined by the heavy workload and strict grading. I knew I preferred a more Socratic method of instruction, which led me towards getting a PhD in research.”

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be?

Educate people to believe in science and each other.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything — — Mark Twain.

Is there a person in the world with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

Dolly Parton, because she truly knows how to be herself and Serena Williams because I love tennis and she takes it to new level.

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