Category Archives: Business

Social Media & Professional Development

 

About a week ago I put up an Executive Protection Scenario on the Corporate and Facebook Pages of the North American Bodyguard Association.  On it, I posed the following along with the associated photo:

“Grammy night. Pre-show red carpet. Your Principal, a celebrity, has had a public falling out with another well recognized celebrity a few days before who is also nominated. The incident is currently the buzz of the tabloids and Blogs. Using the photo below as a reference, what considerations, actions and contingencies do you plan prior to bringing the P out onto the red carpet?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As is typical with the scenarios, I got some good answers from some seasoned industry vets, along with some interesting points of view from newcomers who also try their hand at solving the problem.  It’s the mix of the two that have made taking the time out of my schedule to craft and post the scenarios worth it.   A little bit of backstory:  When I was coming up in the Executive Protection field, interaction with individuals already in the field that did not personally know you was rare.  Now fast forward to 2013 and having the opportunity to get valued opinions and viewpoints from not only all over the country but all over the world via social media, is not just amazing, it’s revolutionary.

Don’t misinterpret me, reading a few online blogs and participating in some newsgroup chats, won’t make you proficient in this field, but what it can do, *in the right settings* is be a part of your ongoing training and personal development.  Through reading, participating and interacting, the Protection Specialist can grow in an industry where too many think just because they completed a 7 day course, or served in law enforcement or are former military, they know it all.   Don’t take my word for it, pay a visit to the Facebook page of the NABA by clicking HERE and read some of the post that are taking place.  If those interest you, check out the Official Members-Only Site and get an even more in-depth look at the Close Protection industry from a global perspective. 

Oh and the reason for this post —

the BET Award Show just occurred in Atlanta, GA this weekend.  At it, two rival performers and their entourages, bodyguards included, were involved in a melee that warranted enough attention to involve the police and be covered in the mainstream press.   Upon reading this, I ask myself, did the respective artist’s security have a plan in place to avoid their client’s crossing paths?  Had they even thought about it?  Well, I do know this, if they had visited the NABA site, they would have at the very least, have read some very well thought out suggestions from industry professionals.

 

The DNC, The RNC & ICON Executive Protection

 

For the past several months i’d been fairly immersed in negotiating, researching, planning, and finally, executing an assignment that was challenging, rewarding, and in many ways, “historic”. Historic because of my participation in both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions at a pivotal time in our nation, but also because I had the opportunity to involve several of the former ICON Academy students in the assignment. For the past 17 days, our agents had the opportunity to interact with all levels of local, state and federal law enforcement, from the United States Secret Service on down. The mix of Politicians, Celebrities, Corporate Higher Up’s and Delegates coexisted with massive crowds, inclimate weather and protesters. The senior Protectors took those with less experience under their wings, and illustrated by words and actions, that every post was an important one, and everyone (including me) got (re)familiar with that EP staple, “Halls & Walls”. In the end, while sore feet, and bags under the eyes were prevalent, the words of thanks and admiration for the work done personally made by the client made it all worth it.

Of course I do not want to make it seem that this was all brand new, in 2008, ICON Services Corporation also played a significant protection role for clients for both the DNC and RNC, and if the positive feedback was any  indication, once again be lacing up the shoes and adding the lapel pin four years from now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elijah Shaw & My Time at ESI

 

I recently had the distinct honor to guest instruct at the world renowned ESI (Executive Security International). Speaking at length on a topic that I have a little bit of familiarity with; “How to Succeed in the Niche Market of Celebrity Protection“. I was truly impressed with the positive attitude and participation of all of the students in attendance. Even after a pretty extensive day of lectures, drills and discussions, the room still contained the energy found only when people are passionate about their goals. Special thank you to ESI President, Bob Duggan and the rest of the ESI staff & instructors cadre for making me feel right at home.

 

ICON CEO Elijah Shaw & ESI President Bob Duggan

VIP Travel Pro Nikia Morales Talks International Travel Considerations

 

Nikia Morales is the Owner of The Travel Agency a VIP travel agency that specializes in working with Celebrities, Entertainment Executives and other High Net Worth individuals.   She recently took the time to share with readers some of her observations on the premium travels service industry and it’s relationship with security.

So descriptive name notwithstanding, what exactly is The Travel Agency? 

The Travel Agency is a full service boutique agency specializing in the unique needs of clients in the entertainment industry.  We offer a full suite of services tailored to each client’s logistic requirements.  We create unique experiences wherever our client’s needs dictate, be it touring, one/offs, production or executive day to day.

Can you describe the profile of the type of client you service? 

Our clients are VIPs of the Entertainment Industry…Artists, Tour Managers, Label Executives and Management/Talent Agency Executives.  Because of their unique lifestyle, these individuals have unique needs and require a Travel Management Company willing to service their accounts accordingly.

Wouldn’t a celebrity or executive just have an assistant book the travel directly with the airline?

When a celebrity or executive calls me it’s traditionally because their travel needs have exceeded a simple on-line booking platform (ie orbitz, travolocity, etc).  Most Assistants don’t have the time to manage the travel of a busy celebrity or executive, not to mention the plethora of changes and details that go along with moving VIPs from point A to B to C and sometimes more.  In addition to the confidentiality, a service like mine provides a one-stop shop option in Travel Management.  This includes, providing reports for accounting, negotiated hotel rates, and detailed flight options that range from the least expensive to the most comfortable.  In addition, direct routing and detailed movement spreadsheets are prepared for the convenience of Management and Security.

Do you see a value in using airport VIP Services? 

There is a huge value in using VIP Airport Services.  These Greeters will have access to restricted areas and have key knowledge on how to navigate the airport with minimal fan interference or long delays in customs and security.  Airport Greeters help to streamline the process and connect all the dots from ground transportation to gate arrival and everything in between.  I’ve found them very helpful with outside of the norm request like last minute prescription delivery and getting un-ticketed bodyguards security passes to the gate so that they can receive their clients.  The key is to have a relationship with a VIP Service provider that has reliable contacts worldwide.

Besides the Iraq’s and Afghanistan’s of the world, are there any locations you see an influx of executive or VIP  travel that you would consider dangerous?

Brazil, South Africa and Russia are places that I’m seeing an increase of Entertainment focused travel that have heightened security concerns.  All of the above countries are relatively poor and there is a very high occurrence of personal crime as well as tenuous relationships between the ruling government and the common people.  While you guys are the experts, my advice is to try and always have the client stay in the hotel chosen for you with help of the local resource and your travel agent.

You interact with Client Security (Bodyguards) as part of their planning the Security Advance.   Do you feel that is necessary, or do you ever get the feeling security is “stepping on your toes” in planning trips?

We are part of one team. I find that when it all goes down The Team (Tour Managers, Managers, Assistants, Security, Travel) are so focused in our respective roles that the only “ego” that matters is that of our mutual client.

Can security personnel reach out directly to a service like yours, particularly internationally? 

Yes.  However, it’s vital that travel is all run through the same source. Streamline communication is very important as the less people you have to deal with in logistic coordination the better.

With international travel, what’s a solid tip that your client’s (and their security) should live by? 

Always be respectful of another Country’s customs and be aware of the political environment before you arrive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For additional VIP and Executive travel Information including bookings, Nikia Morales can be reached at: nik@thetravelagency.us

Style Guru Keith Dorsett talks about dressing the modern bodyguard

Keith Dorsett is a corporate wardrobe stylist and owner of Elsworth Menswear. From the boardroom to the golf course, Mr. Dorsett works with a number of executives and high net worth individuals making sure they are dressed correctly for the occasion. In his 20+ years in the industry, he also has had the distinction of dressing many in the Executive Protection industry. In light of his unique perspective, we asked Keith to take a moment to share with us some of his Rules of Style.

In your opinion how important does proper dress fit into the role of Executive Protection?

I think that proper dress is extremely important in the world of Executive Protection. I say this because in order to protect one must be very detailed and precise.  This enables one to blend in. At the corporate executive level people tend to dress well or travel to places and events were the proper look is required. This would also include high net worth individuals and of course celebrities.  At a prestigious event, your goal is not to look like “the help”, protectors do so much more. Bodyguards are responsible for protecting the well being of others, to do that you need to be in close proximity.  No high powered executive wants his security staff sitting in on a tense acquisitions meeting in a ratty black suit with brown socks on.

How does a bodyguard choose a suit, particularly if you are not on your clients near unlimited budget?

Custom tailoring does not have to be expensive, even though the majority of the population thinks it is.  The first thing to know is what exactly “custom” means. Custom tailoring or Bespoke, generally involves taking several measurements which could equal up to about 4 visits. Most of what is now called custom is really “made to measure” and that should not be very expensive, but what it produces is an excellent fit.  When I see the Secret Service, their suits look much the same as the President, but I’m certain they don’t cost the same. At my shop we have quality Made to Measure suits that are available in the range of $350-$500 dollars, and the guys I’ve dressed have stood on the same podium as Heads of State.

Considering so much of the job involves travel in a suit (airplanes, cars, etc.) any tips for reducing wrinkles? Are there certain Fabrics your recommend for the profession?

The fabric that I would most recommend for the profession would be a wool/rayon blend. The rayon would help with fewer wrinkles in the suit when traveling and the wool will help the suit breathe. Wool will also clean better and does not require the frequent cleaning other fabrics might following weeks and weeks of working an assignment.

While much more prevalent in the entertainment sector, what are your thoughts on the “white t shirt and sneakers” outfits some bodyguards (“buddy guards”) have adopted as a de facto uniform?

Just because your client is wearing crisp white sneakers does not mean that you should.  Maybe on the basketball court or a boat, but he or she is your client, not your friend. As a Protector you want to portray a professional image at all times. It sends a mental signal to others, so what exactly are you trying to convey?

Any rules of style tips you can share?

The most important tip in dressing is to always have your clothes fit you no matter what size you are.  The proper wardrobe means you will not only look great, but you will feel great.  That translates into being able to perform at the highest level at all times.  Just how marksmanship is a skill that bodyguards hone, so is dressing. Look the part and be the part.

 

Keith Dorsett, Corporate Stylist at Elsworth Menswear can be reached at 612-339-0763 or at Keith@elsworthmens.com

 

Tony Scotti Offers his Views on ICON

If you’re in the Executive Protection world, chances are you’ve heard of Tony Scotti.  He’s a gentleman that has written numerous books and offered instruction for decades on the subject of how vehicles operate and how they play a vital part in the role of the Personal Protection Specialist.    If you’ve ever had the benefit of being instructed by him, know him personally, or follow his work on social media, then you know he’s famous for speaking his mind.

In light of that, I’m particularly honored by the kind words he used to describe both me and the services I provide in the areas of Executive Protection Training and dealing directly with clients.

You can find the post over at his excellent Blog, SECURITYDRIVER.COM

 

 

Tony Scotti speaking before a class attending the ICON Academy Celebrity & VIP Protection Course

 

ICON Academy Executive Protection Training Dates


Celebrity & VIP Protection Course :  (5 Days) August 1 – 5, 2012 

A five-day course of practical theory and hands-on training in the world of Celebrity & VIP Protection including the fundamentals of Close Protection.  Taught by industry veteran Elijah Shaw, who in addition to his corporate clients, has traveled the world as the personal bodyguard of international public figures such as musical giant Usher, supermodel Naomi Campbell, and rap megastar 50 Cent, the class covers not only tactics but marketing & career search.

 

“Although the program is called Celebrity Protection the content and instruction covers all aspects of the protection industry. Elijah and his team of instructors meet one of the most important criteria of the business – instructors who do or have done what they are teaching, and can teach.”  Tony Scotti, President Tony Scotti Driving 

 

 

Advanced Executive Protection Course:  (10 Days) August 6- 15, 2012  

This intensive 10-day class is an excellent tool for Operators sharpening their skills with a focus on conducting close protection assignments with a potential high threat level. Work with experienced professionals who are not teaching “theory” put practical applications developed from many years of doing the job.  Taught by Instructors  in private security working globally in a number of high-risk environments including Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, Southeast Asia, South and Central America.

If you are interested in learning more about any of the above Close Protection related courses from Icon Services Corporation, including our special financing options, click HERE.  

We stand behind the quality of our teaching methods and can also put you in contact with previous Alumni to talk about their past experiences.  

Group & back-to-back course discounts apply.

 

Student Experiences Following ICON Executive Protection Training

 

“The  material taught is drawn from actual, relevant Protection experience , presented in a way that is easy to understand and easy to absorb. Without giving too much away, the rotation of classroom sessions, physical demonstrations, and scenario training forces the students to be active participants in their own learning.  In addition to Mr. Elijah Shaw, the  co-instructors were also top notch.  While their approaches to teaching the material were different, their personal investment in making sure that the lessons taught were retained by the students was evident throughout our time there. The Real World vs. Text Book approach is lacking in most of today’s training courses. It is the Real World experiences that help us grow as individuals and security personnel, and ICON’s focus on this aspect was both refreshing and enlightening.”

Miguel DeCoste 

Owner, Coast Executive Services

 

“Icon provides a memorable experience that will follow you through the course of your career. Each phase of training will prepare an individual for a variety of situations, from providing protection services for a celebrity to escorting a corporate client into a high risk part of the world.  Having spent every moment of my adult life in the United States Marine Corps, in a unit that would train and engage in warfare in hostile environments and conduct operations in foreign countries, I was still challenged, and at times, tested to my limits.  One particular aspect of the Icon course that stuck in my head was the concept of “Real World vs. Text Book”; which ICON uses as fantastic teaching method illustrating the differences between what one reads and adhere to as “gospel”, and how the actual application may differ when presented with the same situation in three dimensions. As the days pressed on, and hours extend, the instructors delved deep into the world of personal protection and brought up a colossal amount of valid points, tough scenarios, and real world personal experiences that aid the understanding of fundamentals.  By the end, not only have you learned a substantial amount, but you have access to the extraordinary and diverse Alumni association with members all over the globe.”

 Michael K. Moreland

 

“Just when you think you have it figured, you’re wrong.  Coming from a Law Enforcement background and already actively working in the field, I thought I knew the ends and outs of protecting. I won’t go as far as to say I didn’t, but Elijah has taught me to “Unlearn to Succeed.”  The Advance Executive Protection training course is a must attend. The real world scenarios from someone continuously active in the business is invaluable. I would recommend this to any and all.  With that said, be ready to test yourself mentally as well as physically.  This is a true masters class.”

 Kevin Ghee

Owner, PresidiumEPS Inc.

 

“I want to thank the ICON Instructor Cadre and staff for their support and involvement during my time in the program.  I feel the insight given about the executive protection industry alone heavily outweighed the cost of the course.  Even with a background in military Special Operations, I found there was so much to learn, yet your team helped us develop a strong foothold and understanding in a short time.  I greatly admired how Icon got straight to the point and cut out all the bull.  If only other other organizations operated as efficiently as ICON does.”

K.H.

 

For more information on the ICON Academy Executive Protection Programs, including our financial aid and scholarship packages, click HERE.

Next courses:  January 16-20, 2013 & January 21-30, 2011

 

Keeping The Plates Spinning

 

It’s been a hectic but productive month on this end.  15 days crisscrossing Australia on assignment followed directly by 15 days with my instructor hat on for the back-to-back ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Course, and the ICON Advanced Executive Protection Course.

*whew*

Even in the mist of doing all of this, I had planned to jump a flight and get to Baltimore to speak at the 2012 Protective Security Conference that is now ongoing.  I spoke there last year and it was a blast interacting with the other attendees and speakers.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending on your perspective) A major client scheduled an important event that involved quite a few moving parts and it because apparent that due to some of the complexities, I was personally needed on the assignment.  Knowing full well how the last minute nature of the industry works, the host of the PSC were gracious enough to understand,  and I will continue to give them my full support and plan on again being involved and in attendance next year.

One very cool post script to all of this was that I was able to use several of the past and present ICON Advanced Course Graduates on the multi-day Protection Detail.  (They were after all the advanced course).  From real world training, to real world experience.

In a perfect world that’s how the industry is supposed to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Choice: Celebrity vs. Executive Protection

Everyone’s seen The Matrix right?  Morpheus is standing in front of you, extends his hand and gives you a choice: Blue or Red.  The Blue Pill leads to a stable career in Corporate Executive Protection— more often than not, standard hours, reasonable expectations and a healthy benefits package.   Alternatively, the Red pill takes you down the rabbit hole to the wild and unpredictable world of Celebrity Security.  Long hours, temperamental clients, and a job description that includes pretty much everything but the kitchen sink.  For those of us who have entered this industry with the strong desire to apply our skills to protecting others in the most professional manner possible, it’s almost a no brainer, correct?

I mean, give me the corporate stuff, right?  Send me on my way and let me cash my paycheck at the end of the week.  Seriously, who in their right mind would want to deal with actors and their egos, or even worse, musicians with their quirks, or even worse than worse RAPPERS and their entourages, particularly if the revenue generated is the same???

But maybe that’s not the case.   Maybe there are some that find the world of protecting entertainers stimulating in a way that they just would not get in the more subdued assignments that would accompany working day in and out with the Chief Executive Officer of a corporation.   I’m not talking about the “knuckle draggers” or the “buddy-guards” either, I’m thinking of men and women who have the look, training and demeanor to slide right into a “Blue Pill” position and succeed.  They make a conscious choice to work Celebrity Protection and are happy with it.

I’m sometimes referred to as a bit of an anomaly in the fact that I actively pursue and enjoy working with both client types.   I’m able to make the transition between the personalities and protocols, and enjoy the change of pace and variety.  A short time ago I was laughing with my staff that at the beginning of the week I was working with the senior executives of one of the United States largest corporations and by the weekend I was fending off overenthusiastic fans that tried to stop my entertainment client in the middle of a busy street for an autograph.

So having established that there are some Operators who do both, I also find it interesting that in the industry as a whole there is usually an invisible line drawn in the sand and depending on which side of the fence you are on, rarely do the two cross.  A big part of that is perception.  I hope the efforts by others and myself who are involved not only with working with celebrities, but also getting information out about the successes associated with this niche market have helped with that.   The media gives us a steady diet of horror stories; Celebrity X’s bodyguard punches out a Paparazzi.  Entertainer Y’s security has decided to write a “tell all” book, so of course that paints a picture that all clients in this area are extremely difficult or that any agent working with them is little more than an untrained, ex-football player.

Over the years, I have spoken  at major industry conferences (The Protective Security Conference the International Executive Protection Conference, & EPIC) on topics related to Celebrity & VIP Protection, and after each presentation I was greeted by trained individuals who wanted to do more in that segment of the market.   They simply hadn’t thought past the horror stories and stereotypes, and realized that there were great opportunities for Operators with the right skills to make their mark.

Make no mistake about it, I also had a fair share of Protectors who patted me on the back and said, “great lecture, but better you than me.  I just don’t have the tolerance level”.  I understand that completely, and I think that’s much better than the person who says the can live in both worlds but strikes out horribly when given the chance.  I just think the industry is big enough to encompass all facets including Celebrity Protection, Executive Protection, Dignitary & Religious Figures and so on.  Thinking about it, I suppose if Neo had of taken the Blue Pill in the movie he would have had a lot less headaches, but it also would have been quite a bit shorter.

You can read more of my personal views on the Executive Protection Industry in every issue of The Circuit Magazine where I write a regular column entitled, Keeping Your Edge.   Find it HERE.

 

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