4 out of 4 stars
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On the surface, I have nothing in common with Jorge P. Newbery. We grew up in different regions of the country, different cultures, and different decades. He spent his childhood starting his own businesses, his young adulthood professionally racing bicycles, and his adulthood running his real estate empire worth tens of millions of dollars. There is seemingly nothing that I can relate to about the world in which he operates, let alone his specific challenges. I know that there is wisdom to be gained from learning of someone else's experiences, but the gaps between their experiences and mine often seem too extensive to bridge. In Burn Zones, Newbery references a mental approach he used to excel in racing throughout the story of his entire entrepreneurial endeavor. He does this in a such a compelling, articulate, and personal manner that I was able to not only understand, but truly connect with his arduous journey.
The book opens with an intriguing introduction that features the central concept of enduring difficult periods of time with calm and focus. This is an approach the author developed through his athletic trials. Then follows a natural progression from the origination of his entrepreneurial spirit throughout the rest of his life, which consists of a pattern of chasing and accomplishing lofty goals. A major part of the book is dedicated to his financial downfall, where his optimism, humility, and dedication are highly visible as he relays the events.
A surprising element of the story is the presence of socioeconomic awareness and advocacy. Newbery is self-described as a lifelong supporter of the underdog. I loved reading about the integration of educational and employment programs into his business model, which were designed to improve disadvantaged communities. Mention of practices such as this, as well as other relevant anecdotes, background on his family, and collection of personal photographs featured in the book, work together to highlight the human element of the story.
I respect that the author took the time and energy to ensure that the life behind the narrative remained present. It would have been easier to focus on a formula for success, as many motivational authors do, but that typically results in a dulled impact for the reader. In addition, my favorite parts are the heartwarming details of his relationship with his father and the personal digs taken at Lance Armstrong.
There is nothing that I do not like about Burn Zones. I recommend this read to those who appreciate positive and inspirational content, human interest stories, or anyone going through a difficult period and struggling with any level of regret. Upon completion of the book, I found a level of personal connection to Newbery's way of thinking that I could not have predicted from face value. The impressively natural tone to the story and the overall message behind it lead me to give a rating of 4 out of 4 stars.
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