On Dec. 31, 2019, Carlos Ghosn, who had been under house arrest in Japan surfaced in Lebanon.
In an escape that seems stranger than fiction, the former Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi chairman managed to escape from house arrest, despite 24-hour surveillance, travel across Japan and charter a private jet to Beirut.
Ghosn's escape is remarkable. Not only because of how it was carried out, but also because of what it teaches professionals about modern-day reputation management.
Here are four things to learn from the great escape.
Ghosn Says He's Not Playing The Victim
Ghosn was vocal about the injustices he said he faced.
From his arrest to his detention without formal charges, Ghosn used his position as a rock star CEO to go on the offensive against what he said is a predatory justice system.
In a press conference held in Beirut, Ghosn said he would not victimize himself but would use his position to shed light on a system that he said violates the basic tenants of humanity.
By choosing to go on the offensive, Ghosn arguably cemented his legacy as a crusader against a harsh justice system.
Reframing The Story
Ghosn is facing similar accusations in France.
However, he’s managed to change the narrative from his financial crimes and shifted it to focus on the Japanese justice system.
Ghosn said he was kept in solitary and severely interrogated despite no charges being filed against him.
Thanks to Ghosn, the world now knows that in Japan, you’re “guilty until proven innocent.”
Reframing the story has allowed Ghosn to shift the lens of scrutiny on the prosecution.
Seizing The Initiative
Ghosn used his vast resources to flee house arrest, avoid state surveillance and fly out of a hostile country.
His escape has earned him newfound notoriety. Rather than being the CEO who escaped prison, he’s the man who triumphed over adversity.
"I have not fled justice — I have escaped injustice and political persecution. I can now finally communicate freely with the media, and look forward to starting next week." These were Ghosn’s word during his first press conference after the escape.
Ghosn's escape is not the end of his woes. He still needs to prove his innocence. From the above statement, it’s clear that Ghosn wants to face his charges and see them dismissed.