October 18, 2017 • By UCI Paul Merage School of Business
It’s eighty degrees, the sun is out, and four time Olympic Water Polo player and UCI champion Ryan Bailey isn’t in the pool. Instead, he’s spending time at UCI’s Center for Investment and Wealth Management (CIWM) with 30 very lucky 9th and 10th grade students who are listening intently while he shares his life experiences.
As a sales executive for Fidelity National Title, Bailey has traded in his Speedo for a much different type of suit. However, he hasn’t lost his love for his alma mater or his passion for motivating others. Recently he visited campus as a guest speaker for the CIWM’s LIFEvest Financial Literacy Program. There he voluntarily offered his wisdom from his years in the water and the transition into corporate life in an effort to help guide and inspire a classroom of underserved teens.
“I moved on from water polo, I’m proud that I moved on. And I’m honored to share what I learned along the way with these extraordinary young kids,” he said.
As he speaks, Bailey doesn’t read from a PowerPoint or note cards; he speaks from his heart. His message is simple in concept but difficult in practice, “Keep moving forward.”
Bailey says this with a powerful voice sitting atop broad shoulders. But even at six feet five inches tall, he doesn’t talk down to the desks in front of him, demonstrating a modesty and honesty that creates a respectful relationship between student and speaker. “I’m just a normal guy,” he starts. “I want you to know that. I’m not the most talented. But, I work hard. I’ve built strong relationships along the way. And most importantly, I just keep moving forward.”
The transition from Speedos to slacks wasn’t seamless for Ryan Bailey. Being an athlete up until the age thirty-six, Bailey’s resume was thin when he tried to enter the workforce. “Here I was in my mid-thirties and my resume said lifeguard and water polo,” he admitted.
“I was always a shorts and sandals guy,” he joked, still feeling a bit stiff in his suit and tie. “But I wanted to dive into new waters.” Bailey admits, like many athletes, he struggled. He didn’t know the first step; he just knew he had to do something after water polo.
It was Bailey’s “keep moving forward” attitude and the strength of the relationships he built along the way that landed Bailey a job outside of the familiar realm of sports.
“I was hired by Fidelity as a salesperson, but I knew nothing about sales. So I started learning,” said Bailey. And learn he did. Bailey has become a success in sales and he attributes it all to his mentor at Fidelity. “I’ve learned everything I know from her,” he said.
For the students, Bailey analogizes his experience to the passing of a difficult class like algebra. “It’s okay to pat yourself on the back,” he said. “But it’s not okay to sit down to do it—keep pushing, keep moving forward. It’s never finished.”
With four All American awards, four Olympic appearances, and a silver medal to his name, Bailey knows he isn’t finished. He has more to accomplish; and to the benefit of everyone, his philosophy directs his accomplishments outward. “It’s not about you,” Bailey told the students. Referencing his Olympic Team experience he added, “We picked each other up. You have to pick each other up.”
Bailey continues to take this attitude out of the pool and into the community. Whether he is offering an afternoon to talk to students in a LIFEvest program, spending hours on the pool deck coaching young athletes, or participating as a board member with the Merage School Center for Real Estate, Bailey treats life like a team sport. He is here for the kids and their future, not himself.
As the students break for dinner, they stop to take a picture with Bailey and thank him for his time. Bailey stands toward the back of the picture thinking more of the kids’ contribution than of his own.
“These kids are impressive. They are giving up a week of their summer to be here in a classroom to learn. They’re amazing,” he said.
Ryan Bailey was a guest speaker during the 2017 LIFEvest Financial Literacy program, a weeklong, on-campus program hosted by the CIWM and dedicated to helping underserved ninth and 10th grade students. Founded in 2010, the program teaches life skills in money and investment management in a highly supportive environment, and seeks to instill a continued desire to strengthen understanding of financial matters, encourage admission into a four-year college or university, and to inspire confidence and success in all areas of life.This year’s LIFEvest Financial Literacy program was sponsored by PAAMCO; Pacific Life Foundation, First Foundation Advisors, Affinity Investment Advisors, Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management, Boeing Foundation, US Bank, Canterbury Consulting; Chad Bollenbach; Taco Bell; ties.com; Kara Duckworth; Shawnette Gauer; Lee Anne Maki; O’Grady Foundation; Dubchansky Foundation; Dan and Jordan Floriani; Dr. Christine Bren; Ranney and Pricilla Draper; Vijay Gurbaxani, PhD; Kenneth and Barbara Dutcher; Robert and Barbara Edmonds; Feyzi Fatehi; Schriber Family Foundation; Schweppe Family; and Rick and Anne Keller. For more information about the CIWM or the LIFEvest program, visit the website.