Carlos Ghosn (28) Beyond the boardroom: Ghosn the family man
The CEO reflects on fatherhood and instilling independence in his four children
The subject of work has so far dominated my narrative. I am a deeply private person, and hold my family close. But it would not be a complete picture of my history if I did not spend time to tell you more about my family, especially my children.
I have four children. My oldest daughter was born in Brazil. My second and third daughters, along with my son, were born in the U.S. I cherish the memories of each of their births, but I will never forget the moment I first became a father. Although it was 29 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday.
Many of our best memories have happened when we were on vacation together. In one memory, I was jet skiing with my son, and our jet ski tipped over, forcing us both into the water. My second daughter, who was 7 at the time, jumped in to come to our rescue. Can you imagine that? A 7-year-old girl jumping into the water to save her brother and father. We are always there to rescue each other when needed.
One of my primary goals as a father has been to foster a sense of autonomy among my children. Not just financial autonomy, though they are on their way to promising careers. More so, I wanted to build their "intellectual independence," which is having the will to learn and think on your own, and "emotional independence," or spiritual independence -- the ultimate sense of self-reliance. I think it's important for my children to have more than just unconditional love, but also maintain their own identity and make their own decisions. The ideas of discipline and focus that have guided my professional life are also relevant to my family life in this way.
That doesn't mean I won't offer them advice -- I do. Today all four of my children work in the U.S., and I speak with them regularly on the phone on weekends. Although I offer advice, I don't expect them to follow it. This is important. They need only to consider my input, and then make their own decisions.
I have written often about my own background and diversity. My children had a similar upbringing, which informs their worldviews. For example, my son speaks English and French, and was educated in the U.S., Japan and France. He also understands Lebanese culture. Therefore, he fully appreciates diversity and believes that a person's identity is not bound by nationality. For him, the country a person is from has nothing to do with who he is.
Although we live far apart, we spend some holidays together. My children come -- without significant others -- so that we can enjoy each other as a family. Vacations are easier to take in August, but we also try to spend Christmas together. We may not be doing anything special, but the simple act of being together is what matters. We use this time to catch up on our interests and share what we have been thinking and working on. I am proud of who they have become.
Carlos Ghosn is chairman and CEO of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Read more installments of My Personal History: Carlos Ghosn
See recent articles on the auto industry at Auto Industry Upheaval