When I stumbled into the limited docu series on Carlos Ghosn on Apple TV+, my first thought was: Is there any connection between Apple and the man? Why is this documentary so biassed towards a man two nations thought was a crook? But I am jumping the gun.
A Lebanese American CEO of Michelin takes on the challenge of fixing an ailing French Automotive company. He performs a minor miracle at Renault and is paid more than handsomely for his effort. He makes a further strategic decision and an unheard of idea: to forge an alliance between the similarly ailing Japanese car company, Nissan. His work responsibilities are unbelievable: he’s the CEO of both companies!
The Japanese abide by traditions and even though the new CEO’s flamboyant, roughshod approach to fixing the company is not liked by many, the company is pulled out of doldrums.
But it is the Japanese who realise that there’s something fundamentally wrong about how despite taking a 50% pay cut (Japan is undergoing a recession), he’s still living lavishly, and money seems to be vanishing systematically. Ghosn is missing from the aftermath of the earthquake and the resulting tsunami. He is imprisoned because they suspect he’s syphoned off millions. Ghosn pulls off a daring escape from Japan with the help from Michael Taylor who’s a former Green Beret and now helps rescue people. Although he cries foul about Japanese justice the French are on to his money game. They don’t like how he rented out the palace at Versailles for a Louis IV themed birthday party.
Carlos Ghosn now lives like a fugitive, but a rich fugitive in Lebanon. His lawyer, the men who helped him escape the strict justice system in Japan, have been incarcerated, paying the price of helping him. Ghosn has no thoughts for these men. But looks like he has exchanged a life in the Japanese prison room to a larger prison in Lebanon. Let us look at the money lessons learnt in your money life.
Lesson 1: Know everything before you invest hard earned money in a financial instrument
Renault needed a miracle and Carlos Ghosn handed it to them on a platter. Nissan wanted a miracle and even though Carlos Ghosn came to them with an offer that could change their fortunes, they should have realised that he was bringing in a culture that was radically different from theirs. His methods were totally different from the company culture.
When you have money in your savings accounts, banks will call you offering fancy deals and promises. Do not fall for flashy websites and videos. Read, read and read some more about the financial instruments on offer. No matter how attractive the promise of returns is, if your philosophy does not match theirs, heed to that little niggly voice and do not rush in to invest.
Lesson 2: Bad things might happen, so always have a plan B
Carlos Ghosn suddenly finds himself in a Japanese jail, waiting for a hearing that sometimes takes more than two years, no matter who you say you are. His laptop, harddrives were confiscated and he was given no time to make any calls that could get him help. He was whisked away to jail.
Even a rich man like Carlos Ghosn needed to be prepared to find legal help. Then shouldn’t you - who are investing all your hard earned money - have a plan B that will help you tide over tough times?
Lesson 3: A Corpus for your family for those bad times
When Carlos Ghosn was whisked away to jail and then subsequently released into a house arrest, he was not allowed to meet his family at all. In fact he was under constant surveillance. His wife was living in another country, concerned and yet unable to even call him. He had to sneak a second phone at home and get in touch with her, and even plan an escape from Japan.
When you lock away all your hard earned money in investments, thinking that the monthly interest should be enough to have money for jam, think again. Put away a sum of money as a corpus to deal with unforeseen emergencies like a market crash or a job loss. That way your family does not have to suffer.
Lesson 4: Partnerships can be tricky. Choose paperwork over a gentleman’s handshake
Michael Taylor and Ghosn’s lawyer Kelly learn their lessons the hard way. Both went to jail for helping Ghosn out in good faith. Michael was not paid for the expenses incurred in order to get Ghosn out of Japan and neither did Ghosn protect Kelly. Both men were going to be paid for the services rendered.
In real life too, if you are in a partnership with anyone and your money is involved, don’t put too much trust in a gentleman’s word, or a handshake. Not being cynical, but it is better to have airtight paperwork done with all loopholes covered and even get payments upfront rather than having to chase people who owe you money through a painful court process.
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. She can be reached on Twitter at @manishalakhe.