Making the Leap: Learning to Learn — from DC 🇺🇸 to Kenya 🇰🇪 — Winston Reid
This is one man on a mission. A mission to learn better, pivot quicker.
I first met Winston in Casablanca and via Lagos, he’s now living it up in Nairobi leading product with Lynk. Winston’s one of the few people I know who’s lived in and worked with startups in North Africa, West Africa and East Africa! 😲 🌍
He’s always had a passion for building platforms for future economies to thrive, whether that was PayStack in Nigeria 🇳🇬 or Lynk in Kenya 🇰🇪 — it’s been amazing watching his journey.
Finding the Right thing, at the Right time.
Since deciding it was time to leave DC and head to Africa, it took a ton of chance meetings, a discounted conference ticket, loads of “hey you should talk to this guy” over 1.5 years for him to find an opportunity to head across and this was a journey that began leading investments for Moroccan early stage venture firm Outlierz.
Just like many wanting to make the leap, although Winston was 100% into Outlierz and their mission, it was about timing, the team needed Winston to help them accelerate their capital raise before the economics of making the jump could work — but with him and the indomitable Kenza Lahlou leading the charge, it wasn’t long before he found himself in Morocco — working with a wide range of companies — by accident? No, he intentionally wanted to start with venture to work with a wider variety of startups, industries and geographies. (Getting to be immersed in french 🥐 was also a plus for the language buff in him.)
Planning Your Learning
“With corporates, you get structured training around being highly effective professional in a world class organisation” — Winston Reid
Like many of the people I’ve met in my life who’ve gone between corporates and startups, Winston has a healthy appreciation for the kind of structured learning you get in a corporate environment. But he prefers to learn by diving in there and letting the pressure do its thing — recalling one of his 1st jobs, where he was immediately put in charge of sales, where if sales targets weren’t met the company might not be around next month.
Winston’s always felt like someone that thrives on the edge.
“The most fundamental skill, is getting really good at being a fast learner, and being able to iterate and pivot quickly” — Winston Reid
North to West to East
Having worked with startups in 3 corners of Africa I had to ask about what he thought about the differences.
On Morocco 🇲🇦, he thought the work style was interesting 😉 but made sure to mention that he did have the good fortune of working in an environment that appreciated speed.
“(in Morocco).. not everything has to go quickly, a lot of life moves much slower than I was used to coming from New York” — Winston Reid
I wonder how much of him leaving Casablanca was his need for speed.
It totally felt like he found it in Lagos, Nigeria 🇳🇬 though.
“Nigeria was an extremely intense and positive space for me. I appreciate speed and intensity, and that’s basically all of Lagos” — Winston Reid
If Lagos is a bubble of intensity within Nigeria, a fast growing tech startup in Lagos must just be supersonic.
“I was working at a company that was growing 1,000% year over year, I was part of an amazing team and was socially surrounded by great and intense personalities” — Winston Reid
It’s one of those unique environments where people who crave that intensity really do thrive, and has a way of pulling people from across the world that want just that level of pace.
Now in Nairobi, I’m sure Winston is bringing that brand of velocity to his work in taking Lynk’s platforms to the next level, now now.
And of course now that he’s in Nairobi, he can always celebrate with his team to one of his new favourite spots in the country, Crescent Island, a private reserve a short drive out of Nairobi and a spot where you can wander around on a foot right by giraffe and antelope.
I asked Winston what advice he’d give to guys out there looking to make a similar jump.
- Learn how to deal with severe uncertainty
- It’s now or never — Africa is the last frontier in the world where opportunities exist to build foundational platforms upon which the future of economies can be built.
- Newness will come from every part of your life — just by existing in a city like Nairobi, you’ll be exposed to different approaches to living life, different values of life, different cuisines, different dance styles.
- It’s now or never #2— If you’re planning on having a family or a stable life in the medium term, you really only have so much of a window to take a risk on this incredible experience.