By Britney Grover
Portraits by Isabel J. Kurek
Though he laughingly refers to himself with the age-old adage “jack of all trades, master of none,” Ryan Beckett’s affinity for stepping out of his comfort zone has given him a list of impressive, if eclectic, accomplishments. A successful Wellington realtor, Ryan has also competed in an Ironman triathalon, sailed from New York to Florida, completed a ranger training course for counter-poaching in Mozambique, hiked to Mt. Everest base camp and summited Everest’s sister peak, biked from Florida to California for charity, participated in ABC’s “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise,” and is now working on a doctorate in business administration — just to name a few highlights.
Embracing a Culture
Despite loving animals from a young age, Ryan didn’t have much involvement with any growing up. “I grew up in Boca Raton, Florida, having nothing to do with horses,” he said. “I almost even made fun of my friends that lived in Wellington because I was a beach baby, and Wellington was known as horse country suburbs.”
Instead, Ryan grew up playing various sports with an interest in finance and real estate. It took a combination of circumstances to get him to Wellington and, in turn, horses. After graduating from Florida State University with a dual major in real estate and finance, his lacrosse coach recommended him into the Palm Beach Polo Club in 2005 to work with Palm Beach Polo Realty. “I went there and it stuck,” Ryan said. “I became friends with a lot of people, and before I knew it some of my best friends were top trainers. They said, ‘Ryan, if you’re going to be in the business, we need to get you on a horse.’ Equestrians like Elizabeth Plummer, Robert Coluccio, Richard Cunkle and Kim Stewart have all been gracious enough to help me learn, enjoy and access a level of riding in a way that I would never have been able to without them — but their friendship is what I appreciate the most.”
Ryan began riding, and found he enjoyed it. “I’ve always been an animal lover; I even get choked up at ‘The Lion King,’” he said. “Horses were never a planned landing spot for me, it just kind of happened, but I really enjoy operating around and being friends with other animal lovers. It fit well, and I enjoy the demographic of the horse world. It’s like I tell my friends who aren’t in the horse world: Wellington is such a high level of sport, everyone’s so passionate about it, it’s almost like being immersed in another language and culture. That’s how it all started.”
Like horses, residential real estate wasn’t exactly what Ryan had in mind. Like horses, Wellington fortuitously guided him into it. “I had this perception of a realtor as that cheesy guy with the nametag and the magnet on the side of a car, face on a park bench. So I thought, based on my education background and everything, that I would be more into commercial real estate, in a suit and working more on commercial properties and stuff like that.”
Don Langdon was running Palm Beach Polo Realty when Ryan joined on, and quickly became his mentor — instilling in him the importance and professionalism of the type of real estate they were doing. Ryan honed his skills with Palm Beach Polo for seven years, and then set out to expand his horizons. He co-founded a Sotheby’s franchise in Wellington, and then sold his interest in 2015 so that he could take on the professional challenge of starting his very own brokerage — all the while seeking out his next personal challenge.
Growing Through Doing
Focusing on just one thing has never been one of Ryan’s strong suits. “I grew up in a very jock family, all boys, mom was an athlete, dad was an athlete, and I was always playing some kind of sport — swimming, baseball, lacrosse, all those were big parts of my life. I’ve always loved playing different kinds of sports — I played lacrosse in college, and I got really into triathlons. Triathlons were fun for me because it wasn’t just running, it wasn’t just cycling, it wasn’t just swimming; it was a few disciplines that I could rotate and it was good to keep my interest and always be challenged.”
Starting out with small distance triathlons turned into international distances, then to a half-Ironman, and ultimately to a full Ironman. “A recurring theme is that I always like being put outside of my comfort zone, because I truly believe that’s how you grow as a person,” Ryan said.
True to that theme, he’s “a big bucket-list guy,” and he’s already got quite a chunk of that list checked off. He was slated for the reality TV series “Survivor,” but when he was bumped from the cast at the last minute he didn’t let that keep him from utilizing his free summer. Instead, he and show jumper Dani Goldstein went on a cross-country bike ride from Florida to California in the name of Danny & Ron’s Rescue, a 35-day endeavor.
Ryan’s chance to cross “reality TV series” off his bucket list came later when he got a call to appear on “The Bachelorette.” “There were a lot of reasons not to do it, but I try not to be so worried about failing or care so much about what everyone thinks, and just have more experiences in my life. I knew that it would be a unique, wild ride, and that in fact it was. The best thing that came out of it was I made some of the best friends that I have, even though I didn’t end up engaged — and maybe that was a win,” he added with a laugh.
When he finished with “The Bachelorette,” Ryan was happy he did it — and determined he’d never do anything like it again. “It was kind of like when I went skydiving,” he said. “I was like Well that was good, but I’m not going to keep skydiving. I just wanted to do it to do it. It was the same thing with ‘The Bachelorette.’ I thought, That was intense, stressful but a great experience. I’m glad I did it; upward and onward.’”
But when producers called about “Bachelor in Paradise,” Ryan’s adventurous personality ultimately won out. “Both times I had trepidation about doing the shows, and I had these epiphanies last minute, in the 11th hour of making the decision, that on your deathbed you regret more things that you didn’t do than things that you did do. I believe in putting yourself out there, and not taking yourself too seriously. So I went for it again, and again I had a blast; it was great.”
Giving Back & Moving Forward
In addition to his adventurous side, Ryan also has a big heart — and the two sometimes work in tandem, like in his cross-country ride for charity. Most recently, Ryan has become an advocate for counter-poaching with the GEOS Foundation. Instead of simply fundraising from the sidelines, Ryan once again got in on the action to prevent poaching of rhinos and other animals in Mozambique. “We went through full ranger training for two weeks — we slept in the bush for three days, got live ammunition training and got to see what these rangers really do in terms of the difficulty, how they live and the whole experience. We had a phenomenally successful ‘friendraiser’ at the end of WEF, which was graciously hosted by the Gochman family at their gorgeous farm, where we screened an informative movie shining a light on the rhino-poaching epidemic.”
Beyond animal welfare charities, Ryan also supports charities for children, including being an ambassador for Shuzz Foundation, donating shoes to children in need both foreign and within the U.S. “Often when animals or small children are in need, they’re in that position because of humans,” he said. “It’s not something that happened by mother nature; it’s not like the lion eating the zebra in Africa on the Serengeti. A lot of times it’s humans, unfortunately, that are the problem. I feel some sort of responsibility, being a human, to counter all the negative things that humans are doing.”
While he regularly volunteers his time to help people and animals, Ryan continues to chip away at his bucket list. He and Carlos Arruza hiked to Everest Base Camp and summited the Island Peak in honor of Ryan’s aunt’s father, Tenzing Norgay, the first man to summit Mt. Everest. Ryan and Carlos have been talking about planning a trip to Kilimanjaro next, but it may have to wait until Ryan is finished with his current escapade: With an MBA from Palm Beach Atlantic University, Ryan decided to pursue a doctorate in business administration at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.
“I didn’t think I was going to get in,” he said with a laugh. “But I’m half-way through the first year and up against a deadline for a big paper. Writing these papers is one of the more challenging things I’ve ever done.”
Though he continues to ride, showing is one of the few things not on Ryan’s bucket list. “I just enjoy going to the farm and riding,” he said. “During the winter season, all my clients are in town and it’s hard for me to get out to ride, but outside of the season, I find myself riding a lot. I just go out for fun and do some jumps every once in a while, and just enjoy it for the sake of riding.”
Other side ventures include a startup tech company and fashion modeling for TV commercials and print work. “My friends say I’m the most random person ever,” Ryan admitted. “There are upsides and downsides — it’s that saying ‘jack of all trades, master of none.’ I wish there was something I was hyper-focused on, but it’s never been my personality.”
Even as it is, Ryan certainly has accomplished quite a bit — and he’s not going to stop, even if it’s one bucket-list item at a time. “I like to describe things like Everest or even my education like a marathon in that it’s fun to talk about the marathon, it’s fun to sign up for the marathon, it’s fun to train for the marathon, it’s fun to start the marathon. But once you get to mile 20 of that marathon, you’re like, What am I doing, what is wrong with me, this is hell. But soon thereafter, the accomplishment makes you go, Wow, I’m really glad I did that.