An ice storm on Christmas Eve 2004 triggered his collapse. He was maligned, publicly shamed, and financially gutted – even arrested. He lost everything and ended up $26 million in debt.
As he struggled to regain his footing, he spent what he could to get others to lift him up. But no one did. He discovered that there was only one person who could build him back up. To move forward, he crafted a new life’s purpose: to help others crushed by unaffordable debts rebuild themselves
Burn Zones is a story of playing life’s bad hands and overcoming adversity against the greatest of challenges. It’s an inspirational story of a man who was pushed to his mental and physical limits, and came out the other side even stronger.
And, most of all, it’s a lesson that you can do the same.
This book was an interesting self-improvement narrative. Rather than taking us through a five-step guide dealing with failures or a ten-step guide on how to achieve and maintain success, (snore) we are given a simple look at the author's life and his experiences. It's a truly awesome teach-by-example scenario, and I learned more about myself reading this book than I have with most other inspirational books out there. Instead of feeling like I had to push through it, I finished it in three hours and then sat on my couch completely encouraged to think that there are actually people like Mr. Newbery out there. They do exist! It probably has something to do with Mr. Newbery's amazing work ethic and his willingness to discuss his own personal failures and feelings of depression. It might have something to do with his sweet naivete when it comes to him believing and expecting the best from others simply because that is what he expects from himself. I think it mainly has to do with his unfailing positive outlook in the midst of the crisis in his life.
I wasn't at all surprised that the city officials he dealt with were so sneaky and underhanded. I just sat there shaking my head, knowing that this stuff happens all of the time and wondering how on earth people like Mr. Newbery or myself or countless others who actually treat their fellow man with honesty, integrity and respect could ever fight against dishonest egomaniacs who hold so much power. I think part of Newbery's message is that you can't necessarily beat them all. You don't have control over those in power who talk about resolving all the problems in our government and society, but then resist the efforts of those who attempt to do just that and then continue to behave in a way that adds to the very problems they claim to want to fix. You can only control your actions and hope that those actions will make an impression and better someone's life. He and those that he worked with accomplished so much good in Woodland Meadows, and though the end results were devastating for himself emotionally and financially, the lives of those people who weren't given a second chance anywhere else were changed for the better because Newbery believed in them. Think of all of those people who started their own businesses and believed that they were more than what the police or others perceived them to be.
As Newbery stated, people will treat you how you treat them, and I think we can go so far as to say that people will perceive themselves the way you perceive them. So even though the Woodland Meadows complex was a bust in the end, I hope he'll remember all of those lives he changed for the better.
His take on how different races are treated was new to me. This is where I was naive for so long until I married my Hispanic husband. To me, racism is a thing of the past and civil rights corrected all of that, but apparently there is still quite a bit of hate in this world. My husband dealt with that growing up, and I sometimes worry for my children because they inherited my husband's beautiful dark mocha skin rather than leaning towards my lighter skin. For me it makes no difference. Their skin could be tinged with purple for all I care because a person is a person. It's a shame how perceptions are crafted by what we think we know of another culture or race. Mr. Newbery seems to be color blind to all of that while recognizing that most others aren't. I think most of his attitudes and beliefs are something all of us need to adopt in order to push through our own burn zones and encourage others to do the same. I think the most important thing I took away from this was that we don't necessarily have to endure our burn zones alone. It's important to get through them with the support of those we love so that we, in turn, can help them through theirs.
I highly recommend this book to every human being on the planet. Not a very narrow audience to market to, but humanity in general needs a shot of Jorge Newbery's candid take on life's challenges and the personal relationships we develop along the way.
I gave it five cherry blossoms!
Today, Jorge P. Newbery helps others crushed by unaffordable debts to rebuild their lives. Jorge is Founder and CEO of American Homeowner Preservation (AHP), a socially responsible hedge fund which purchases nonperforming mortgages from banks at big discounts, then shares the discounts with families to settle their mortgages at terms many borrowers find "too good to be true." Jorge's response to the nation's mortgage crisis creates meaningful social and financial returns for investors, while keeping families in their homes. AHP's mission is to facilitate win-win-win solutions for homeowners, investors and lenders.
"Burn Zones: Playing Life's Bad Hands" is Jorge's autobiographical account of how he was pushed to his physical and mental limits during his time of strife, and how he overcame the challenges he faced. Jorge's upcoming book is: "Debt Cleanse: How To Settle Your Unaffordable Debts For Pennies On The Dollar (And Not Pay Some At All)."
Jorge is a regular contributor to Huffington Post and other publications, and speaks regularly on debt, investing, finance and housing issues.
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