June 8, 2014


Jack Bauer 24
We can learn valuable lessons about money from Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and others in the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) . Here are five.

1. Communicate Clearly

When time is tight, every word and second matters. In 24, you know what’s said and what’s meant. Simple questions get asked if there’s a need for clarification or confirmation.

Does your advisor have a clear understanding of what you want? Your goals and priorities may have changed since your last meeting. Advisors are not mind readers and may not be proactive. Tell them.

Conversely, your advisor also has an obligation to communicate clearly with you. If you don’t understand, ask. Since you’re paying, you’re in charge. Get your money’s worth.

2. Trust With Caution

The world of 24 is filled with mistrust. You can't tell who’s telling the truth or how long the honest will stay truthful. The stakes are very high and human motivation is complicated. There are conflicting interests. The losers don't accept defeat willingly.

Defiance harms trust. When people think they're doing right, they may bend rules, violate direct orders and tell blatant lies. The bad people have an advantage because they aren't constrained by rules of law.

Building relationships is a key strategy for advisors. Relationships help retain you as a client and make you more receptive to advice. As the years pass, you can become more vulnerable. For instance, Tom Hanks got cheated by his insurance advisor but the process took years. In 24, the process is much faster.

3. Each Moment Is Unpredictable

The world of 24 is filled with twists and shocks. We don't know what’ll happen in the next moment or next hour. That’s true in real life too.

On 24, we know Jack will overcome setbacks and achieve the key goal. Our lives have drama but don't come with the same assurances. Unpredictable events like injury, sickness or death are rare in our working lives (low probability) but can cause serious financial hardship (high severity). Insurance is a cost-effective way to transfer the risks.

4. We All Need Help

Jack is the main character but he relies on help from many others. Sometimes he asks the wrong person but things eventually work out. Diligence is important. Keep inspecting what you're expecting.

Since each organization has different strengths and limitations, Jack gets help from different places (CTU, FBI, the NSA, the President). If you rely on advisors from the same firm, you get convenience but risk unknown compromises. You get more options with independent outside advisors.

Sometimes Jack can’t get the help he needs because the providers havce conflicting interests. The good of the many can take precedence over one life. That makes sense unless you’re the one. That’s when you need to look out for yourself.

5. Be Flexible

Events don’t happen as expected. When a plan fails in 24, Jack and team make instant changes with minimal discussions based on the little information they have.

Our own lives often lack the excitement a viewing audience demands. That's good. Precautions like insurance reduce the drama further.

After all, Jack Bauer and CTU are forms of insurance — well worth the premiums.


PS We never watch 24 before. Thanks to Netflix, we’re well into the third season.

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