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Social Impact Heroes: How Sylvie Beljanski & The Beljanski Foundation Are Helping To Find Treatments For Cancer

Try to do at least one thing for yourself every day. Most people, myself included, actually find it extremely difficult to find time for themselves, even if it is for one single thing. So now I started putting things on my agenda that matter most to me, as if they were work appointments.

As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sylvie Beljanski.

Sylvie Beljanski was born in New York City after her father, Mirko Beljanski, PhD, came to New York to pursue a two-year fellowship with Nobel Prize winner, Severo Ochoa. Raised and educated in Paris, she completed her undergraduate studies at The Sorbonne before being admitted to the French Bar. In 1999, Ms. Beljanski founded The Beljanski Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, whose mission is to find natural, non-toxic cures for cancer. She relentlessly educates the public about the effects of environmental toxins on our health and is a sought-after speaker at health and wellness conferences globally. Currently, she is on an international book tour for the award-winning book, Winning The War On Cancer: The Epic Journey Towards a Natural Cure. She is also the President of Natural Source International and recently opened Maison Beljanski in New York City, a store dedicated to everything wellness.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Actually, I had never envisioned coming to the USA and becoming the CEO of my own company. I was raised and educated in Paris, France and had been admitted to the Paris Bar after studying law at the Sorbonne. It turned out that I come from a family of scientists and my father was a PhD at the Pasteur Institute in France. Back in the 1980s, he was one of the champions of what is now known as environmental medicine, which at the time did not sit well with the scientific establishment. When my father went on to discover a number of natural extracts that were able to destroy cancer cells without toxicity, his laboratory was raided, and everything was done to destroy him and his research. The flagrant abuse horrified me, and I decided to devote myself to salvaging this research and carry on with his scientific discoveries.

Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?

When I first started the company in the 90s, I had just arrived from France, did not speak good English, did not have any useful connections here in the United States. I expected those things to add an additional layer of difficulty to my project; however, what I did not anticipate, was being looked down upon as a young woman. For example, when I was contacting suppliers, they always thought I was the secretary. They never thought or even considered me to be the CEO! I hope that by now things have changed a little bit. The lesson I learned from that was to keep smiling, ignore the innuendos and stay focused on my goals.

What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?

The main factor that led me to start my dietary supplements company and to its eventual success is the quality of our products. Had I not seen how my father’s products benefited so many people as I was growing up, I would not have immersed myself into the continuation of his research. I do believe that it is the satisfaction of our clients and the reputation that the products have earned over the past 40 years which is the strongest asset to Maison Beljanski.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This has proven true time and time again. Whether asking people to help me organize conferences or to join me on the Board of Advisors of The Beljanski Foundation, to my surprise most people are happy to say yes! On the other hand, if someone does say no, just don’t take no personally and move on to the next person. They will most likely say yes and be happy to help.
  2. When it rains it pours. Don’t get discouraged by the amount of opposition and difficulties that may fall on you at once. I remember that within one week, I learned that our products were being counterfeited, our main supplier of raw materials was retiring, and all the while two key employees decided to leave the company. Needless to say, that was a lot to handle. As a CEO you have to make your goal to outlast any fear and anxiety and look at difficulties as reinforcement to reaffirm your staying power.
  3. Take care of yourself. As a CEO of a small company you wear many hats and are always on the move. It is very easy to become an adrenalin junkie, which is something you will absolutely pay for later on. I got this lesson when I found myself on a hospital bed and finally had to rest for a few weeks.
  4. Train for public speaking. Since English is my second language, I avoided public speaking for as long as I could, but when given the opportunity, I’ve realized the huge benefit to the company. It took a lot of practice and determination, but it was really worth mastering my own fear of public speaking in English.
  5. In the end, all will work out. After 25 years in the field I can say confidently that, if you keep doing the right thing, you will rally the necessary support to weather the storms.

What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Try to do at least one thing for yourself every day. Most people, myself included, actually find it extremely difficult to find time for themselves, even if it is for one single thing. So now I started putting things on my agenda that matter most to me, as if they were work appointments.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Absolutely. There would be no Maison Beljanski without the breakthrough discoveries of my late father Mirko Beljanski PhD. He was the one who developed the formulas, that still as of today, are the key to the success of our company. My recent book, Winning The War On Cancer: The Epic Journey Towards a Natural Cure, has received a number of awards and I believe it has a lot to do with the originality of the story which showcases my father’s life and the continuation of his work.

What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?

Finding the balance between work and whatever else there is in life is still an elusive goal of mine 25 years later. I am doing better with making time to take care of myself while still working on protecting myself against multiple solicitations that burden me more than they bring real satisfaction.

What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?

I am the Vice President of The Beljanski Foundation whose mission is to research natural molecules to advance the fight against cancer. Over the past twenty years we have been able to foster quality partnerships with a number of academic institutions. Those partnerships themselves have led to numerous peer reviewed publications and I hope this will help educate people regarding their health options and improve their quality of life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!

I hope the work done by The Beljanski Foundation will emulate more advanced research regarding the health benefits of natural molecules. Those are often disregarded by pharmaceutical companies because they don’t offer opportunities for patents and big return on investment, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be extremely beneficial to support your health. Whatever their differences, health care systems around the world are all plagued by ever-increasing costs and long waits at hospitals for expensive conventional treatment. Some systems work better than others in terms of reimbursements, accessibility, and coverage, but they are all under spiraling costs and reduced access. The rising of functional medicine putting prevention first and embracing supplementation and nutrition could solve many of those problems.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Readers can follow The Beljanski Foundation & Maison Beljanski on Facebook & Instagram to stay up to date with everything happening!

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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