Shola Akinlade of Paystack

It is refreshing to see someone successful without the accompanying snootiness or pretence to royalty or fame. Stripe has acquired his company for over $200 million or around NGN 76 billion.

I mean, this is a guy supposedly in touch with the big players in finance, technology, banking, and business home and abroad, and yet exudes a homeboy charm.

He likes his good food; but acknowledges his struggle with identifying, nurturing, and leading people because, he admits, he’s never been a CEO.

When commended on his company’s success, he’s quick to draw other people into the spotlight: his co-founder, several staff, investors, too.

He mentions a number of famous names but doesn’t sound like he’s name-dropping. He must be a real pro if he’s only pretending.

He points out the company’s success is the contribution of the community, friends and advocates here in Nigeria and abroad.

And he laughs. Ever present, confident laughter, not neurotic or corny. Nothing forced. He might as well as been in his pyjamas talking to his pals.

He mentions luck and being fortunate to explain some of the startup’s success. While he doesn’t sound preachy, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were someone deeply religious, but doesn’t seem like a stoic.

What I took away from that interview was way beyond anything technical; I received the boon of a calm, honest, free spirit.

However, I won’t be naive to label him a saint. This is not praise-singing or a PR stunt.

I’ve written these things for my own reflection, and probably for someone else’s benefit who happens to read it some point.

There will be no need to screech in dismay if some dark report comes out about him.

When the interviewer asked if he invested in other entrepreneurs, I noticed a little stutter before he explained he dealt in kind, not cash. He prefers to guide founders and connect them with investors. His principle.

I caught a heart focused on people, living his vision to build for Africa, drawing energy from the competition to doubledown on his own job.

For me, I think he is the most admirable leader I have ever listened to.

Watch the Zoom call here:

It’s almost two hours but well worth it in my opinion.

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