Interview Ahimsa Forum: Dylan Wilk by Diego Cortez

Interview Ahimsa Forum: Dylan Wilk by Diego Cortez

Dylan comes from a poor Family in England. He was able to borrow money to prince´s trust to create a computer business, called Gameplay. His business was eventually the first .com on the London Stock Exchange, and this made him very wealthy (9th richest before age 30 in the UK). After having given away all his fortune, he started a new journey in the Philippines, where he is currently director of Human Nature, a company he started with family members and that they manage in a unique way. Human Nature produces Philippine-made personal care products and is engaged in the social impact of their community, through bringing people out of poverty. Dylan showed love for his employees and support of local suppliers, which he compensates at fair prices, disconnected to market prices.

What was the turning point that made you abandon a very successful life and start a new one?

I remember lying awake one night, at a Beverly hills hotel, wondering why I had everything that I could possible dream off… Porsche, Ferrari, BMW´s, I used to go to work by helicopter, but It all felt empty… pointless…I remember praying: “Lord, why am I rich?” “Why did you bless me?” It felt very wrong. I wasn´t doing anything useful for the world. When I prayed, I really felt that I should leave the company.

I started to feel the difference between happiness and pleasure. Pleasure is always associated with a price tag, but whatever you buy, you become bored of it pretty soon. I realized happiness usually comes from other things, like relationships, and fulfilling god´s purpose with my life.

Another important moment, was when my grandmother passed away and I was there with her. It was another way to remind me that my current life was far from the way I learned when I was raised.

Then, I sold my shares and went around the world wanting to find places I could help.

How was your journey into finding a life where you would be happier and also help others?

First, I spent 6 months aroung the world, met a lot of people trying to help the poor, but none really convinced me that had an answer to poverty. After this time I was a bit desilusional, because as a business person, I wanted a solution. I have not found anyone that had an true impact even in one commmunity. That was when I heard about GK (Gawad Kalinga) in the Philipines from a friend of mine.

What I saw there blew my mind: for example the transformation of the slums into someplace beautiful, kids in the school, people seemed genuinely happy, optimistics and hopefull about the future. I offered to sell a car and donate the money to Toni Meloto, but his answer changed my life:  “if you really want to help, please don´t send the money, why don´t you come back?”.

I accepted to go there for a period of 6 weeks, but feel in love with the work, with the place, with my wife and never came back.

Can you give us an example of the donations you were involved?

One example is with GK, I was able to support the start of some villages. I would offer to match what would be raised from the local community in order to leverage the impact. Let´s say they were 10 houses generated from them and I would cover for another 10.

What would you say was the role of faith during your journey?

Often people without strong faith are all about themselves, about material gains… I believe that´s why you see so much of alcohol and drug abuse among the rich and famous.

I always had a strong faith growing up … but I will tell you that during the times I was managing my first business, it fade away a bit. My faith was a good anchor that allowed me to look for the right answer. It made me to go back to god, and also to give my money all away.

It was easier to give money away when I was single, but after having family and 2 kids, when I had about enough for another 3-4 years left. I prayed to god, to see if should remain giving it all away. I felt so peaceful and knew that god would find another way to take care of me. The message was to keep doing what I felt was right, and I kept giving it away. In the end, the little money I had left I used to start Human nature. I even had to borrow money from my mother in law to get it started.

What I learned through my life is that god is really faithful: if you are doing things his way, he will find a way to rescue you. Now, he provides for me and our 6 children, and hundreds of other families through Human Nature.

Can you tell us about your vision for running Human Nature?

Let me tell you about three different aspects of it.

First, is to grow the ingredients in farmer communities. A rice farmer will always be poor, but if he can grow lemon or peppermint, for example, those other things would allow them to earn 10 times more.

Second, the urban poor, which we didn´t expect at the beggining.  We have been able to employ hundreds of people from those communities in highly paying jobs with double the minimun wage.

Third, trying to create a movement of social entreprises that would follow the same model. I don´t believe in just create jobs that perpetuate people in poverty. There are million of poverty jobs there, where people would work 12-hour days, 6 days a week, but they can barely survive. I´m looking for business models that will pay people enough to get people out of poverty, paying more than just the minimum wages. This allows people to dream, and If people can dream, they will strive to be their best.

We are a living example that if you take good care of the people, the business does better. My model for this was the town where I grew up, Saltaire in West Yorkshire. I only had opportunities because of the mindset of this leader, factory owner, that 150 years ago that decided to take care of the poor building houses, schools, libraries. His factory became the most efficient in the whole Europe.

What kind of help would be required to support or improve your projects?

What we need probably the most is agricultural technical help from outside the Philippines. What we dream off is to be able to study local plants, indigenous plats, and find out what we can explore of them in order to popularize them. For example with use into our cosmetic products.

I feel that the Phillipines is like a giant christmas tree with all the gifts wrapped. When you talk to the elderly they would suggest the use of local plants, unfortunately the young people know nothing about it. I am sure there are also applications not only for our cosmetic products, but perhaps in drugs. There is a huge amont of biodiversity and i´m sure god put interesting things there, we just don´t know what they are.

What is your recommendation for the youth ( the new generation) ?

I have three rules, with success guaranteed: First, “Don´t quit”. Second,  “Don´t even think about quitting”. Third, “Whatever happens, still don´t quit”.

People give up too soon, when I started both of my business I knew nothing about them. We had no option and we didn´t give up. People will tell you that you need many things… I dind´t even finish high school. I believe you just need the determination to keep going until you succeed.

World in about you vision to the world in 30 years from now ?

I hope that we can solve the phenomenon that people now concentrate much more on their differences and hate, instead of what they can share. When I was a kid, it seems that the world had more reasons for people to be hopeful. Nevertheless, I am still very hopeful.

One thing I would love to see is more of the youth getting out and going to volunteer somewhere. It is not just the people that you helping who are benefiting, but it Is really you. My life is simpler now, because I learned how to be happy with the Filipino people.

What about your role as Ahimsa ambassador?

I´m learning a lot from being here, there is amazing things happening, and I built many connections today. What you can see is people from different parts of the world doing great things. Unfortunately, it is the opposite of what we usually see on the media, just bad news. This is the kind of news that we need to share, the good things that people are doing! I will definitely do more of sharing those stories because it inspires people and gives hope, and breaks some of the walls that are being built in this world. I hope my story can also be seen as good news by other people here too.

2018-02-02T10:21:47+00:00January 26th, 2018|Leaders|