4 out of 4 stars
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Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands by Jorge Newbery is the unlikely success story of a high school dropout and his journey through life, the “burn zones” he encounters along the way and how he powers through them. Newbery defines a “burn zone” as the hardest part of a bicycle race.
Early in his career, he adopted a common-sense set of business principles based on transparency, sincerity, and empowering other people. Those principles served him well throughout his life.
Newbery’s key to success was to work harder than anyone else. For a decade, Newbery had successfully purchased troubled properties and turned them around. When an ice storm struck his 1100-unit apartment complex, he found himself at the brink of financial ruin. I would have liked the book more if Newbery had admitted that he could have avoided financial disaster by working smarter, not harder. He should have been more attentive to his insurance coverage and adopted stronger risk management methods.
Newbery’s desire to help people motivated him at his core. That is why he wrote this book! He not only has a good heart and a strong desire to help people, but he is clearly a brilliant man. I like the business model he developed of buying large scale low-income housing projects and turning them into self-supporting assets in their communities. That was very inspiring. He just took too many risks and didn’t do enough business planning.
It was fun to see Newbery turn good ideas into realities. At his lowest point, Newbery had an idea for a new company. In 2007, the real estate market left homeowners with homes worth less than their mortgages. His idea was to short sell homes and provide affordable leases and discount repurchases to families as an alternative to foreclosure.
This was an inspiring story for anyone who has been overcome by debt. It is told in an informal and personal way. It is well written and well-edited. This story would also be an excellent case study for a business management program.
I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. I love the idealistic message of the book. You need to look inward at yourself and realize that you are your own best solution to a problem by always doing your best, maintaining your integrity, and respecting other people. In my opinion, an MBA from a good business school doesn’t hurt either.
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