4 out of 4 stars
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How do you turn failure into success when it feels like everything you’ve built is falling apart? Burn Zones by Jorge P. Newbery tells his story of finding success after a natural disaster leaves him financially bankrupt and emotionally drained. Newbery’s story is one that many people will be able to relate to, even if they are not working as real-estate professionals. His witty prose and self-reflection are a treat to read and make for a very engaging story.
Newbery is a natural entrepreneur. As a child, he got himself hired as a newspaper delivery boy for his town. Soon after, he bartered for an ice cream tricycle that belonged to his neighbor and was able to successfully negotiate and get the trike for $200. Throughout his teenage and young adult years, he had an incredible work ethic and tenacity that allowed him to power through the many challenges he faced. His passion for music drove him to pursue a career in music production, which he did for a short time. He then turned to real-estate. In 2004, he had recently purchased an apartment complex and was working with the residents to help them improve their lives, as many were previously incarcerated and had difficulty finding work. However, an ice storm during the Christmas season catapulted him into legal battles, intense debt, and what he calls a burn zone.
I love the concept of burn zones. He describes them as relatively short periods of time that are extremely difficult. While the actual event may be over very quickly, the effects linger. Newbery’s fall from grace had a profound effect on him and was a key turning point in his life. The picture in my head as I was reading was that of a burn zone after a forest fire. Once the fire is over, the devastation can be felt for decades after.
It was very inspiring to read about his commitment to rising back up again after a monumental disaster. After such a demoralizing event, many people would not be able to continue to fight for their future with as much strength and ferocity as Newbery did. The most devastating event of his life was also integral to creating the American Homeowners Preservation (AHP), which seeks to help people stay in their homes when they are having trouble paying their mortgage, while still compensating their lenders.
I believe that there are many relevant business lessons in this book. Most notable to me was the importance of keeping business about people. The AHP seeks to benefit people, and they have been very successful and profitable because of that mission. I would rate this well-constructed novel 4 out of 4 stars. It appears professionally edited and is entertaining throughout. This book does not contain any sexual content but does contain some racial slurs and profanity, so I would advise discretion.
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