4 out of 4 stars
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Burn Zones: Playing Life's Bad Hands is the autobiography of Jorge Newberry, a Latino born and reared in L.A.. It begins with his first paper route at age seven and continues through to his ownership of a hedge fund that specializes in helping homeowners stay in their homes. Newberry discusses the challenges that face minority entrepreneurs and how his difficulties in one enterprise gave him the skills to succeed in the next.
Jorge Newberry is something of an enigma. He is able to maintain his focus on being financially successful without ever forgetting his social responsibilities. This came out early in his career in a very impressive way. At 14 he was amazingly out in front of the L.A. punk scene with a self-published fan magazine in which he interviewed the likes of Black Flag and T.S.O.L.(True Sounds of Liberty). With the support of his parents, he was able to give these punk bands a place to stay at his house when needed and other logistical support. These musicians were from diverse backgrounds and tended to be nonconformists. Jorge experienced a wide range of people through this and developed a capacity to see people for who they are rather than how society labels them.
The title of the book refers to his experience as a bicycle racer. When riding an especially difficult section of the course, which he calls burn zones, he was able to pull ahead by putting in extra effort. He developed a habit in his life of not trying to escape from the difficulties but increasing his effort at these points. He recounts how after having bought a four thousand unit apartment in a rough neighborhood in Cincinnati, an ice storm undoes all his work and almost throws him into bankruptcy. At his lowest point, his philosophy helps to pull him through and move on to the next challenge.
The book teaches others by example how to manage difficulties in business. One of the most impressive aspects of his career is that it never occurs to him to put aside his social responsibilities for the sake of profit. For Mr. Newberry the two are permanently fused.
As a writer, the author has a simple conversational style with very few rhetorical flourishes. He is concise, clear and gets to the point. His humility, compassion and humor make the book easy and rewarding to read. I rate it 4 out of 4 stars and recommend it to anyone looking for an inspirational book without clichés. The book was well-edited, I found no errors.
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