4 out of 4 stars
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Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands is a memoir by Jorge P. Newbery. He begins with a fascinating account of how he started earning money in 1973 at the tender age of seven. He takes the reader through different pursuits that he engaged in during his childhood, highlighting his motivation, successes, and challenges. His first job was delivering newspapers in the neighborhood of Brentwood Glen in Los Angeles. From this, he saved several hundred dollars and bought an abandoned ice cream trike from a neighbor. This was his first business purchase and it enabled him to establish a business when he was eleven.
At thirteen years of age, he got a job as a busboy at the UCLA Faculty Center. Interestingly, he then started a music record label and worked with several punk bands. Having succeeded brilliantly in that venture, he lost interest and looked earnestly into new pursuits. Inspired by the Olympics, he developed an interest in cycling and competed in several major races, even trying out for the Olympics.
Eventually, he got into the real-estate business, starting as a loan originator and rising to become a real-estate mogul. He became very successful due to his resilience, diligence and willingness to undertake profound risks. Regrettably, his success made him overconfident and led him to one of the most difficult phases of his life. He shares his experiences throughout his life and especially during this period.
As a cyclist, Jorge often encountered ‘burn zones’, described as short periods of extraordinary effort that ultimately separated winners from losers. When in a burn zone, he would counsel himself to stay relaxed and focus on enduring the pain. He knew that once the pace slowed down and the effort required reduced, it would become easier to push forward. He uses this analogy to describe several moments in his life where he encountered difficult situations. It is an important lesson that resonates throughout the book.
The author recounts his compelling story in an engaging manner. I admired his resilience, diligence, and relentless determination not to be discouraged by the opinions of other people. He utilizes his experiences to advise readers on how to stoically endure incredible hardships, overcome adversity and keep going even when the cards are stacked against them. He explores issues like risk-taking in business; learning from one’s failures; the value of hard work, and the role of politics in business.
I rate the book 4 out of 4 and recommend it for anyone seeking inspiration in business or life in general. It is well-written and thought-provoking. I felt like I moved with the author through the journey cheering his achievements and empathizing with his hardships. As he also writes about his family life, we get a complete picture of his life. This makes him very relatable. The book is well-edited. I did not dislike any part of it and will think of 'burn zones' whenever I encounter challenges.
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