Patrick Baynes on Blending Science and Art to Stay True to Yourself

Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Jun 24, 2015

“I heard someone say ‘if you can do something twice you can repeat it. If someone else can do it it’s repeatable.’ If you can write out those steps, you can iterate on it.”

GameTimeUpdates’ founder Patrick Baynes saw the value of this lesson early on in his career at LinkedIn. He’s continued to plumb the depths of its meaning as he’s moved from PeopleLinx to his latest company.

Chapter 1: Lessons From College

Patrick went to Alfred University in upstate New York like just about everybody in his family. Studying business at the 2,000-student school, he even installed a makeshift “hot tub” in his freshman dorm room.

Lesson #1: Know what you’re talking about

A presentation his sophomore year was a game changer. “I realized I knew what I was talking about. I’d done my research, and I had an interest in the topic, which was personal finance. I got really into it and could talk very naturally about it. When I sat back down at my desk, I felt really good.”

Lesson #2: Understand the relationship between science and art

Patrick took an acting class where the entire semester his prof taught students all the components of acting, including using space, and learning lines so you know what and when to say it. “ At the end of the semester he told us all to forget all that stuff. That was ‘the science,’ and now our job was to make art out of it. At some point, when you’re putting it together, you forget the science and create the message.”

“It’s the same in business. Know the components of the business you’re going into. But at some point, you have to rely on your instincts and make art.”

Lesson #3: Know yourself

“In college, I figured out who I was. I was lucky, I had a lot of opportunity. Had some awareness. It made me realize I had to pave my own path.”

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Chapter 2: LinkedIn

“I left college wearing the same style of Birkenstocks I have on right now. I didn’t see myself wanting to change myself to work at a job.”

Patrick saw a video of worklife at Google and decided that startup and tech culture was an area in which he could thrive and stay true to his values. “I was looking for jobs in cities where I had friends and family. I found LinkedIn on Google News in Omaha, Nebraska. They hadn’t even opened an office and a week later I had a job offer.” After two years he realized he needed more opportunities for growth.

Lesson #1:

“Get advice from people who think like you do. When going to people for career advice, I was getting advice of what they would do. My dad’s a Colonel in the Army. He told me I’ll never make any money in the Peace Corps, but his goals weren’t my goals. I went to my boss at LinkedIn and told her I was thinking of leaving. She said, ‘I think you can find everything you need here in Omaha.’”

“I learned that when I’m at a crossroads to look for who’s already been there. It makes all the difference. In any stage of our careers, we’re tempted to go to smartest or most successful people around, but their values aren’t always your values.”

Lesson #2:

“The way we look at businesses—and a lot of things—is through our own frameworks. We start a business based on our previous experiences. At LinkedIn I saw one of the best business models in the industry. With its multiple revenue streams, LinkedIn knew it was poised to own recruiting and talent management, as well as professional identities in advertising and premium subscriptions. As the network grows and adds subscribers, all other revenue streams grow too.”

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Chapter 3: PeopleLinx

“I left LinkedIn because I wanted to grow a little bit faster.” He and former LinkedIn remote sales exec Nathan Egan started selling consulting and training services. “Three months out of the gate and Nathan closed a quarter million dollar deal with AARP. Along the way, we realized the market wanted education—to understand social media. And they wanted to improve the quality.” They launched a platform to do just that, raising money through Ben Franklin.”

Then, in May of last year, LinkedIn pulled PeopleLinx’s API access. “We lost almost zero customers, and one of our lessons was that it didn’t impede us.”

It was a time of transition for PeopleLinx, and Patrick took the opportunity to bow out. “There was a lot of noise, and a lot of change, so much noise that I could transition out. And that worked really well.”

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GameTimeUpdates

GameTimeUpdates is an automated way of delivering sports updates to bars and restaurants. Patrick had the idea in a prior life as a bartender. Together with a friend from college, they started selling it. “Before we launched a website or anything, we pounded the phones. And we sold one. Then, we started putting some muscle into getting it out there.”

Now, they’re working on big sponsors, like Anheuser Busch. “We provide the updates for free, and the ads come into that feed. It blends into the marketing programs already going on really well.”