4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Burn Zones: Playing Life's Bad Hands by Jorge P. Newbery is a nonfiction autobiography that details Mr. Newbery's professional ventures and many aspects of his personal life. Mr. Newbery began working at age 7 delivering newspapers, bought an ice cream-selling bicycle when he was 11, and owned his own record company by the time he was 17. His very supportive parents allowed him to drop out of high school at 16 to pursue his dreams and obtain his GED later on. Mr. Newbery's record label was concerned with 80's punk bands, and he kept a portable stage at home to rent arenas and host shows with. Contacts he made include such big names such as Social Distortion, Black Flag, and Bad Religion. Some of his first "burn zones," his name for obstacles to be overcome, occurred during this time, including the Sunset Riots outside of one of his shows in Los Angeles.
At 19 Jorge began racing bikes semi-professionally to professionally, including in an Olympic trial and in the Tour of Mexico. As his third career, he got a real estate's license and began working for a company. He began working a low-level job at 24, and by 26 was starting a mortgage company with his mentor. This launched Mr. Newbery on his biggest venture yet - buying rental properties and fixing them up.
Mr. Newbery began to acquire a reputation for buying buildings that were in bad shape and fixing them up. He soon became very wealthy. His biggest acquirement was a place called Woodland Meadows, an 1,100 unit complex with a bad reputation in Columbus, Ohio. He moved into this place and used progressive methods to improve it, including giving the residents the power to police their own neighborhood and expanding a program called TEACH that improved the lives of many residents and members of the community who had criminal records and/or few opportunities and gave them job training. At first this was his biggest accomplishment, but soon turned into his biggest "burn zone." An ice storm damaged much of the complex, and Jorge was soon betrayed by the contracting company he hired to fix it back up, the insurance companies, the media, and even the city and mayor's office. This disaster put him in millions of dollars in debt.
Jorge used the lessons learned from his various careers, and especially from his "burn zones," or failures, to embark on his next venture. He began a company called American Homeowner Preservation, which he still runs to this day. This company helps those in debt with their mortgages. His ability to learn from and use his failures to his advantage made this book a fascinating and inspiring read. I believe that Jorge Newbery has done a lot of good for many different people, and that more should know his name.
Parts of this book also touched on social issues, such as police brutality, racism and the lack of opportunities for minorities, and even the "Occupy" movement. Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 4 rating. It was almost perfectly edited, and I wasn't bored for a second of reading it. This is a great story of an inspiring human being that anyone could enjoy.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon