Baseball has always been an integral part of UCI alumnus Taylor Holiday’s life, even after he stopped playing the game professionally. In fact, the ’09 alumnus credits his experiences with the sport - from his days as a student athlete at Mission Viejo High School and UC Irvine to being a 19th round draft pick for the New York Yankees - for the many successes he enjoys today. But for all of his time spent perfecting his on field performance, it has been the people he’s met and relationships he formed through baseball that have proven most critical.
“My baseball network has been incredibly important to the entirety of my life,” he says.
Anteater baseball and beyond
Holiday became an Anteater in 2005, the same year Dave Serrano took the reins as UCI’s new head coach. The baseball program at UCI was in full growth mode, following a decade-long shutdown from 1992-2002 brought on by state budget cuts. Holiday and Serrano’s first years at Irvine were rewarding: in ’06, the team qualified for the NCAA Tournament. In ’07, the team advanced to the College World Series. And while the ‘Eaters were eliminated by Oregon State - the team that would ultimately win the championship - the experience for Holiday was, “without a doubt, one of my fondest life memories. Just an incredible experience with that group of people and coaching staff.”
Serrano shares Holiday’s sentimentality on the ’07 season. “Taylor was the glue of that magical team,” he says. Of Holiday’s current successes, Serrano is “not at all surprised. His thinking was always outside the box and his energy was off the charts. Who he was as a player is who he became as an entrepreneur: he has a fiery personality and a will to win.”
The same week UCI clinched its spot to advance to the College World Series, Holiday - then a junior - also found himself a 19th round Major League Baseball draft pick. He was picked up by the Yankees, and - to make the event even sweeter - his best friend was also drafted by the Yankees a few rounds later.
During his two years with the organization, Holiday played for both farm teams - the Staten Island Yankees and the Charleston RiverDogs. Though not a glamourous life, he enjoyed the experience of amateur baseball and the small-town feel of the games. While in Charleston, he met Amanda, whom he married in 2010. He likes to joke that he “played professional baseball and got a wife out of it.”
Holiday returned to UCI in the off season to take classes, earning his degree in political science in 2009. He was walking to class on campus the day he received the call that he’d been released from the Yankees. While disappointed, Holiday was neither surprised nor defeated. He had seen the size and abilities of new recruits and knew his future in the game was limited.
“I was realistic about the baseball opportunities for me,” he says. However, he also recognized that his attitude in life and interests beyond the field afforded him a bright future. “I had a lot of interests and I had a UCI education. And I’d developed an incredible network.”
The making of a marketer
With his professional career in baseball coming to a close, Holiday turned his sights to law school. While studying for the LSAT, he started working part time for a friend who’d started Power Balance, a company that manufactured hologram silicone wristbands for athletes. From his friend’s garage, Holiday would pack and fill orders from the company’s website and drop them off at the post office.
In less than two years, Power Balance grew to more than $60 million in revenue with sales of wristbands spanning 30 countries. And as the company expanded, so did Holiday’s role. He was put in charge of e-commerce, social media and influencer marketing. Knowing almost nothing about any of these, Holiday threw himself into learning his new trade. And he thrived. He describes the transition from baseball to marketing as natural.
“Baseball is very analytical. You always know your batting average - it’s a very data-rich sport. So for me, e-commerce and digital marketing really made sense. When I learned I could track that a dollar out yields three dollars back, it just made sense to me.”
Holiday’s Power Balance experience gave him the marketing and analytical foundation to create Common Thread Collective in 2014 with partners Jordan Palmer (former NFL quarterback), Cory Hamilton (fellow UCI baseball alumnus), and his Power Balance founder-friend Josh Rodarmel. CTC is an 85-person marketing agency that also has three brands of consumer products under its umbrella. The vision for the company is “helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams” and Holiday works hard everyday to inspire new possibilities in the entrepreneurs with whom he interacts. “When you grow up your whole life wanting to be a baseball player and find yourself after a game in a cold tub next to A-Rod, your sense of possibility changes,” he says.
One of his initial investors was Steve Borowski, a ’79 alumnus and proud Anteater supporter.
"You could see Taylor's leadership skills when guiding the UC Irvine Baseball team to the College World Series back in 2007,” says Borowski. “It's no surprise that years later those same skills are one of the main reasons for the incredible success of Common Thread Collective. He is both a visionary and a leader. It's fun to watch."
One arm of the agency helps consumer product brands enter the sports market, while the other, 4x400, serves as a business incubator of sorts, helping entrepreneurs launch their brands from the ground up. He’s currently working with three companies, including Fielder’s Choice Goods which crafts wallets and money clips from vintage baseball gloves, selling them in limited release batches. Every 60-90 days, the brand releases newly crafted products, sometimes under a baseball narrative, like gloves from the 1950’s and The Catcher Series.
Holiday points to the product’s conversation-starting qualities as one of the keys to its success. “It’s not about the function of what it holds: it’s that every time you take it out of your pocket, you get to tell a story.”
Making it all work
Married with three young children, Holiday is often asked about how he balances work and family life. Holiday’s response is unique as he subtly shifts the narrative from the traditional concept of balance. “I’m not someone who believes a lot in the ideas of balance; I’m more of a believer in the ideas of integration.”
For him, family and work lives coexist. His kids frequently come to the office and are close with his employees, and employees can often be found at his house. Because of this, he seeks co-workers open to merging work and family life into a more holistic and healthy combination.
“Inner peace comes from the alignment between your values and your behaviors. I have done the work of defining what matters to me, and then figured out how to map most of my time and behavior to that. That’s the thing I’m most proud of. That involves my family, that involves my company, that involves the people in it, that involves my faith and my experience in that community as well.”
The UCI community
Through it all, UCI has continued to play a pivotal role in Holiday’s personal and professional development. He returns to campus periodically to talk with students, and drops into The Cove to talk shop with aspiring entrepreneurs. Through his company, he hires UCI interns and graduates, and he continues to be impressed with how the university has cultivated a vibrant, engaged alumni community.
“It’s been cool to see the university develop this desire to see its alumni thrive - that’s been really meaningful to me.”
Because Holiday is grateful for the role UCI and its network has played in his life, he returns the favor by cultivating its growth through his company, his family and his connections.
-Kara Roberts for UCI School of Social Sciences
Follow Taylor’s journey on social media:
Instagram: @Commonthreadcollective | @Taylorholiday