Father’s early death inspires son to live with purpose

Ryan Cone reads in the study of his Brookhaven home. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

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Ryan Cone reads in the study of his Brookhaven home. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

After seeing his father’s list of unfulfilled dreams, Ryan Cone was determined to honor his father’s memory by making his own dreams come true.

“I took care of my dad the last couple years of life while he fought cancer,” said Cone, 41. “We found an old list of goals, things like: go to Hawaii, start a cigar company. Dad said “don’t be like me. I’m 57 years old and I didn’t do any of those things because I was fearful.”

He got stuck in a rat race, he needed to provide for his children, and he couldn’t take any risks.”

Cone was 18 years old when his father died. The loss sent him down a path of self-discovery. He began contemplating the deeper questions in life. He wanted to learn what it takes to be successful, and he started by figuring out his personal definition of success.

“I started reading biographies and motivational books,” said Cone. “When I was 23 years old, a senior at Georgia Southern, I started interviewing people, at least 100, to see how they mapped out their successful lives. Someone suggested I called Tommy Newberry. He became my coach and that changed everything.”

Newberry is a best-selling author and business coach based in Atlanta.

“Ryan had big goals, needed coaching, and said he’d need a scholarship for the coaching,” said Newberry. “He said ‘I promise if you do this, I’ll become one of your best clients, maybe your very best.’ He met that promise by his 10-year mark.”

Cone is a commercial real estate agent in Atlanta. By age 29 he owned his own company, which morphed a couple times before becoming Cone Commercial. With Newberry’s help, Cone learned to place equal emphasis on five areas of life: faith, business, spirituality, health and family.

“I realized that my definition of success is balance in all those buckets,” said Cone. “Financial freedom is huge, but I also wanted to dive into my spiritual life and be a charitable person. I want to be fit and healthy, and present for my wife and kids. I want to be the dad who never misses a game or recital, who can put his phone away and focus on what’s right in front of him.”

Cone starts each day with a morning ritual. He wakes early, drinks a full glass of water, does 15 breath reps, stretches and says affirmations. From 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. he plans out his entire day and tackles his most daunting tasks. He likes to schedule at least an hour of alone time every week, whether taking a long “God walk” at sunrise or going to hit golf balls.

“None of my best thoughts have happened when I’m around other people,” said Cone. “It’s good for me to have that quiet time to set my intention and meditate on my goals.”

It’s been 18 years and Cone still receives coaching from Newberry. They speak bi-weekly and communicate through e-mail and text frequently. They meet for a full day once a quarter, along with a group of other entrepreneurs like Cone.

“Not all my clients are as disciplined as Ryan,” said Newberry. “While it takes some a while to implement my principles, Ryan calls within 12 hours with follow-up questions. Balance can be so hard for a business owner to attain. It’s easy to become a workaholic, or to abandon your health, your marriage, your faith. But Ryan sets goals in every area of his life and implements them.”

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Ryan Cone with his dog Kiya at his Brookhaven home. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Ryan Cone with his dog Kiya at his Brookhaven home.  PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

caption arrowCaption
Ryan Cone with his dog Kiya at his Brookhaven home. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Cone has been married to his wife, Stephanie, since 2005 and they share two daughters, Aubrey, 8, and Madelyn, 6. He often writes affirmations on Post-Its for his daughters and puts them on their mirrors. He created a nighttime ritual with the girls that he calls “Maker, Mission & Mate,” something he picked up in a parenting seminar years ago.

“My girls know who their maker is, they have a mission in life, and I encourage them to pick a good mate in their future,” said Cone.

Cone also upholds a “Good Husband List,” which consists of date nights, affirmations, gifts of service, and “etched memories,” where, every six months, he creates a special experience for his family, which is most often a trip.

Though Cone leads a good life, he is no stranger to challenges. He has dealt with a health issue, and, like many, his business came to a halt at the beginning of the pandemic.

“Storms are going to happen, it’s inevitable,” said Cone. “It natural to focus on the negative, but if you have a safety net with affirmations and goal setting, if you have faith in a higher power and can be transparent with your emotions, the storms are easier to weather. Anxiety happens to everyone, but a plan for the valleys helps us climb the mountains.”

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Ryan Cone gets a bottle of wine from the wine cellar of his Brookhaven home.PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Ryan Cone gets a bottle of wine from the wine cellar of his Brookhaven home.PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

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Ryan Cone gets a bottle of wine from the wine cellar of his Brookhaven home.PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Cone sets goals as far out as 30 years from now. The ritual of goal setting keeps him focused on living the life he contemplated at his father’s bedside years ago.

“I may not be Arthur Blank, but in my sphere of influence, I want to help change others for the better,” said Cone. “Success in business is great, but I want to be known for honesty, charity and good character. I want to be a nice person, a good father, a good husband. I will be grateful for each day and chase my wildest dreams. I know my dad would be proud.”