Erik Wilson is standing atop an active volcano in Vanuatu, his father’s ashes in hand. It’s just he and his now-friend Nick, a global entrepreneur, and their hiking crew. Originally, there were supposed to be more businessmen on that private mastermind trip, but once the others had discovered it wasn’t the typical networking deal, they backed out. Erik saw possibility in the experience, though, and that meant more to him than potential transactions. So, he said yes to the volcano, and got to throw his Dad’s remains into it.
“My dad loved to travel, especially with me,” Erik says, clearing his throat. On the day of his father’s death, Erik declared on Facebook that he would provide him with the legacy he deserved by giving him posthumous experiences. “He’s been to the infield at Daytona 500, a sacred mountain in the Philippines, Australia, Barbados, Mexico,” Erik says. And of course the volcano. “That was me trying to put a positive spin on something that was really hard.”
Positivity is paramount to how Erik lives his life. In every job he’s ever had, there’s always been something to learn and gain. From starting his first landscaping company at 20 to selling $75 giclee paintings and Kirby vacuums, to growing one mall kiosk into 23 brick-and-mortar stores, to opening his own real estate company, to Pozify—a social media app that rewards its users for engaging with and sharing inspiring content—Erik is all about creating a full memory bank rather than a financial one.
Soon, Erik will launch his first digital product of 2016, an experiential banking model aimed to disrupt traditional marketing practices. Using the scientific process of what creates a lasting memory, Erik hopes to teach entrepreneurs how to create meaningful experiences for their audiences. Because rich experiences last longer than money.
“The big shift in my life was to stop being so transactional about business and start thinking about transformational business,” Erik says. “I started asking, ‘How am I going to help people?’ What kind of positive legacy am I going to leave behind?’”
Erik could live off the passive income from his real estate company and coast along, but he chooses not to. Since his father’s passing and his mother’s diagnosis with ALS—each within close proximity—Erik believes every day matters. Eventually he’ll write a book—whose profits he foresees going to charity—about how every person can make a lasting, positive difference for others on a daily level.
“If you feed yourself with nothing but positive stuff, you’re going to have a totally different impact on the world.”
Words by Jessica Kenny
Photo by Elizabeth Ervin