Category Archives: in the news

Bodyguard Takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

 

After being away on an extended assignment, I learned I was called out by a few respected industry friends for the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge”. The first thing I did was educate myself more on the actual condition, a medical disease that could affect anyone (including members of the Executive Protection community!)

The second was make sure I wasn’t engaging in “slacktivism“, and since I publicly lend my voice (and my checkbook) to other causes on a regular basis, I felt in the clear.

Lastly, I decided, anything worth doing was worth doing in slow motion…

Learn more about ALS, and the other things we can do to help, HERE.

Protecting Nelson Mandela, The Takeaways

 

The New Zealand Herald posted an article on one of Nelson Mandela’s bodyguards that was such a good read, in my opinion, that I decided to reprint it in full.  It also struck me with a few personal  takeaways that you’ll find at the articles conclusion.  

 

“I owe so much to Madiba.” So says Rory Steyn, the former chief bodyguard of Nelson Mandela during his presidential years – from 1994 to 1999.

Steyn is coming to New Zealand in August, a much-anticipated highlight of the 2014 TEDxAuckland line-up.

He says the global icon, affectionately known as Madiba, had a huge influence on him: “The lessons gained while protecting a true legend is something that translates into my life every day.”

In 1994 Rory Steyn was a young white police officer with an ugly past. He had been actively involved in the harassment of senior anti-apartheid activists, and he was a typical conservative South African policeman who saw Nelson Mandela as a terrorist.

When Steyn was assigned to Mandela’s protection it was no more than a formal administration handover from one presidential term to the next.

Steyn, like all the other white bodyguards assigned to Mandela, was expecting his marching papers within the week. Instead what he got was a five-year, unobstructed view of a man that could heal a nation – and himself – up close.

Steyn’s transformation began with the simplest and most basic of things: good manners.

Steyn saw that Mandela never walked past women or children without greeting them. Everyone was treated the same, irrespective of their colour, age, gender or social position.

As he observed Mandela during those first few weeks, he expected to see the cracks, but eventually came to the conclusion that the president was genuine.

“When I started working for Madiba, for the first time I was recognised as somebody, not a second-class citizen,” Steyn says. “The previous president barely tolerated us, but Madiba would always thank us, and make us feel like we were doing something vitally important. And there I was, this white racist who had once wished him dead, and yet he was able to put the past behind him and treat me as an equal.”

The president’s bodyguards found themselves living a surreal existence. Sometimes they would occupy the grandest of hotels, palaces or presidential guest houses as Mandela toured the world. And suddenly they would be preparing for the president to tour a poverty-stricken village, or make visits to patients at hospital wards, without the press ever knowing.

“Madiba was one of those rare exceptions,” Steyn says. “He was incredibly humble, and seemed to thrive whenever he was called upon to mingle, especially if it meant spending time with those suffering from hardships.”

Steyn was with Mandela when, in 1995, as a special guest of former US president Bill Clinton, Mandela was in New York to attend the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.

Mandela took his usual 5am walk in Central Park. Then he saw a homeless person in the darkness ahead of him. To the horror of the Secret Service, the president deviated from his course and made to go over and greet the man. He was blocked by the anxious Americans, but the South African bodyguards knew resistance was futile and, eventually, Madiba talked them all into paying one homeless soul the visit of a lifetime.

Mandela was often instructed by his doctors to forego his official duties and get some rest in Qunu, his hometown. But invariably there would be a knock at the door – usually one of the elders asking for assistance in resolving a local dispute. There he wasn’t the president, but rather a senior member of the local clan who had a duty to assist in the issues of the village.

“It’s almost as if they were unaware of the power of this international statesman,” adds Steyn. “[It was] hardly the stuff of presidents, but a measure of the man.”

One sleepless night after speaking with some homeless street kids in Cape Town, Mandela decided to give one third of his presidential salary toward a fund that could deal specifically with children, and this became the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. Every year for his birthday, Mandela would host a huge children’s party for those especially poor or sick.

He was 95 years old when, last year on December 5, the world said its goodbyes. Steyn says: “The late Mr Nelson Mandela followed three rules throughout his own personal journey; free yourself, free others, and serve everyday – it was not just his mantra, it was his way of life.”

 

And now for the takeaways — 

“The previous president barely tolerated us, but Madiba would always thank us, and make us feel like we were doing something vitally important.”  —This is something that speaks to the different personality types you will encounter while performing the business of protecting clients.  Some may never utter a kind word after years of service, however the job remains the came.  

 

“The president’s bodyguards found themselves living a surreal existence. Sometimes they would occupy the grandest of hotels, palaces or presidential guest houses as Mandela toured the world. And suddenly they would be preparing for the president to tour a poverty-stricken village, or make visits to patients at hospital wards, without the press ever knowing.”   –This echoes my time in the industry working with varied client types.  On Monday it’s the yachts and vacation homes of the ultra-wealthy and by the weekend I am going over routes to get in and out of the poverty stricken areas of Haiti or Angola for a visit to an area charity.  The key is to maintain perspective, be in the moment, but never “caught up in the moment” and always, keep your guard up.    

 

“Mandela took his usual 5am walk in Central Park. Then he saw a homeless person in the darkness ahead of him. To the horror of the Secret Service, the president deviated from his course and made to go over and greet the man. He was blocked by the anxious Americans, but the South African bodyguards knew resistance was futile and, eventually, Madiba talked them all into paying one homeless soul the visit of a lifetime.”  –There is a balance that has to be maintained when conducting Close Protection of individuals that have a degree of risk.  You can wrap the client safely in a bubble but you have to be flexible enough to adapt to a change of plans.

While I had the opportunity to meet President Mandela while  I was working with a different client, I can imagine saying that  working his Protective Detail would have been both challenging and rewarding is a vast understatement.

Rest In Peace Nelson Mandela

 

While on an assignment, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Mandela in person several years ago. At the time I was in full work mode, so there was nothing but the briefest of greetings, however, he still extended me the courtesy of a firm handshake. Madiba was of those individuals who will be remembered in helping define this century.

Honor.  Determination.  Fortitude.  Perseverance.  Those are certainly qualities that the Executive Protection community can emulate.

 

May he rest in peace as he has certainly earned it.

Principal Protection, Lessons Learned Book Q&A

Principal Protection; Lessons Learned

 

A Q&A between Benjamin Alozie of the Summit Group  & R.E. “Rick” Colliver, Author of Principal Protection; Lessons Learned

 

First off, how did you come up with the title of the book, Principal Protection; Lessons Learned?

Good question, answerable in two parts…having been a student of the art since 1977 (my first detail was actually for President Gerald Ford in 1974, but I was a military “volunteer” for that one), I noticed how different schools and different protection personnel couldn’t agree on what it was we did for a living…Executive Protection, Dignitary Protection, Personal Protection etc. So I looked at what our job was and broke it down to the basics: we protect Principals. Henceforth, the course that we developed for the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy carried that name. Depending on where you find your career taking you, the skills you learn protecting a military officer in a combat theater can help you transition to protecting a corporate executive. The skills you learned protecting a Governor, could also prepare you to protect a football player or entertainer. You still protect Principals.

The second part of the answer is that we live in an era where people want to know “why” as often as they want to know “what”. In other words, why do we do something this way or that way”?   When you look at how protection has evolved over the past three thousand years, you’ll see that almost every significant development that got us where we are today, occurred as a result of someone getting assaulted or killed. As a matter of procedure, almost all of the big details require a debrief at the conclusion of every protection mission. This gives participants a chance to analyze what went right and what went wrong. Thus, we improve our performance and capabilities by analyzing “lessons learned”.

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t invent anything in the book…no patents on new technology, no major improvements in any process. All I did was bring together the teachings of a great many professionals who, every time they got bloodied on the job, got back up and figured out a new way to do things.

 

What inspired you to make the commitment to sit down and write the book?

Actually, it started out as handouts that we used in our protection classes to support lectures. Every year, the handouts got larger and larger, and one day the OPOTA course coordinator said, “Why don’t you write a book?” As I was driving home scratching my head, it suddenly hit me that I already had most of the research and material knocked out. I just put it all together…which probably explains why it won’t win any awards for impeccable continuity.

 

Please forgive me, however this is a serious question, in the digital age of YouTube and Facebook, do people even read anymore?

Good friend and Varro Press President Michael Nossaman and I have had several discussions about the trends in print vs. electronic media. I think we are seeing a gradual reduction in printed text and an increase in online sources and electronic readers like Kindle. The libraries of the past may soon fit into your pocket. With that in mind, I will be making Principal Protection; Lessons Learned available on Kindle after the first of the year. I am also working with an applications engineer and a former broadcast journalist to create an app for cell phones that will facilitate advance work and protective intelligence collation, while on the road.  More to follow on that!

 

What were some of the challenges that you encountered while writing the book?

Continuity and innovation. Because this was pieced together over a 15-20 year period, it was a challenge to make sure what made it into final print was current and accurate, and fit together with all the other pieces. Also, there have been a hundred or so books written about protection over the years and I wanted this one to be different. Unfortunately, as I said, there’s nothing “new” in there. I just took the old stuff and put it all together in a format that gives you what you need in a compact package. Hopefully though, we give readers a comprehensive reference that will help them do their jobs.

 

Why should Principal Protection; Lessons Learned, be on the read list of professionals in the industry?

This is not another “how-to” book on protection – it is more of a “why-to”. Security is one of the first line-items to get reduced in a corporate budget, because we aren’t seen as a profit center. Add to that the IRS Rule that makes some organizations report their EP costs in public filings, and we quickly see how the burden falls to provide adequate protection at minimal cost. This means that we can’t afford to send 4-agent details everywhere the Protectee goes. We have to manage protection according to anticipated risk, threat and exposure. Thus, if we can educate security managers with “why” we need to do things, then they can use their own creativity to implement successful protection plans even when they don’t have human assets on duty. Teaching people how to walk around in a Diamond formation, or how to ram a car, really doesn’t do this. Those are reactive skills, which, when you think about it are totally subordinate to our protective mission — which is to prevent intentional and unintentional harm from affecting the Protectee. We are hired to keep them out of harm’s way – not to stage dramatic rescues…spinning back-kicks…mid-air interception of speeding bullets and the like. Protection specialists need to have a personal toolbox full of both hard and soft skills. However, in the long run, the soft skills will keep you and your boss alive longer.

 

Are there any emerging security trends that you think Protectors need to take notice of in order to more successfully operate in the years to come?

Technologically, we are seeing more things done by video analytics that used to be done by humans. I encourage everyone to attend an ASIS conference sometime just to find out what kinds of new products are hitting the market. You need to be able to successfully integrate electronic and human security programs that support the Protectee’s business objectives, so that they will feel that you are adding value.

Protection specialists need to increase their personal training portfolios to include topics like Crisis Management, Disaster Response and Environmental Health and Safety. I know we all enjoy the hands-on training like shooting and car-spinning, but are we familiar with the difference between a rickettsia and a virus, or the various ways that anthrax can be introduced into the human system. Wouldn’t it be a shame that as we did our bomb sweep of the venue, we walked right past a chemical weapon because we didn’t know what it was? If you have a tornado or earthquake affecting thousands or millions of people, do you have a plan to get around?

 

Is there any other specific advice you would like to share with your audience beyond the pages of the book?

Build your network. Attend events like EPIC and the ICON Summit because that’s where you will meet people that can make your job easier. Take professional training from qualified schools because that will get your professional network started. When you complete an EP program, the people in your graduating class will be your friends and peers for the rest of your career!

 

 

R. E. “Rick” Colliver has served as the global security director for two multi-national corporations with operations in 24 time zones, and has managed protection details on four continents. He is the course developer and lead instructor in the Principal Protection program at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and is an adjunct instructor in protective operations through several police, military and academic organizations. He has held security clearances with the US DoD and DHS, and serves as an advisory board member with the American Board for Certification in Dignitary and Executive Protection, and a Council Member for the Protective Security Council.

Benjamin Alozie is a member of the Summit Group and the International Director of ICON Global, responsible for the development and implementation of policies and procedures of the firms international operations.  Benjamin has extensive experience working on multiple continents with a special emphasis on Africa and Europe.  With a background that includes the ability to speak 7 different languages and multiple dialects, Benjamin has conducted long term Protective Assignments for Foreign Heads of States traversing the world.

 

Purchase Principal Protection; Lessons Learned HERE.  Meet Rick Colliver and discuss his book and other Executive Protection Industry Topics at the 2nd Annual ICON Academy Social Summit.  Learn more about the Summit HERE.

 

 

 

Prep Time for the ICON Executive Protection Social Summit

January is right around the corner, and we are preparing for our Second Annual ICON Executive Protection Academy Social Summit.  This time around we have expanded on last years sold out event into two days of wall to wall activities, with the networking “socials” taking place in the evenings.

Once again I have been fortunate enough to have a speaking roster of  contemporary individuals involved in the Executive Protection craft on hand to deliver some great topics at this invitation only gathering.

 

Attendees of the 1st Annual ICON Academy Social Summit
Attendees of the 1st Annual ICON Academy Social Summit

 

Raffaelle Di Giorgio, Eric Konohia, Elijah Shaw, Mark James & Benjamin Alozie of the Summit Group
Raffaelle Di Giorgio, Eric Konohia, Elijah Shaw, Mark James & Benjamin Alozie of the Summit Group
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Elijah Shaw the Executive Director of the ICON Academy speaks to a Summit Attendee

 

To learn more about the 2nd Annual Social Summit held January 25 & 26, 2014 click HERE.

Rest In Peace, Protector

 

How do you honor someones life while at the same time avoiding any sensationalism or controversy surrounding their death?  It’s extremely difficult to do in the era of Social Media, as the whole structure of the medium is fueled by commentary, many times unfiltered and uninformed .  When I learned of the passing of a professional  colleague  yesterday I was pretty stunned.  A short time later my phone began ringing off the hook as the news spread around our community.  No doubt in the upcoming weeks a clearer picture will be formed, but for my part, I’m engaging in a moment of pause and reflection for an individual who I both respected, admired and had the pleasure of working shoulder to shoulder with on many occasions over the years.

Rest in Peace, Norm Oosterbroek, you made the job look easy.

 

Combating Domestic Violence from a Different Angle

 

Last night marked the end of an era.  After 6 years, my term as a member of the Board of Directors came to an end with my final board meeting at Women’s Advocates.  For those of you were are not familiar, Women’s Advocates is the United States oldest  shelter for women who are victims of Domestic Abuse, providing support for the women and their children, as well as actively seeking solutions to break the cycle of violence.

I originally began my association with the organization as part of my ISC-Safety Net program.  A service conceived by me to provide free security services to victims of domestic violence.   While working alongside Women’s Advocates I was honored when the Executive Director asked me to consider serving on their board.  After passing the selection process, I then became immersed at looking at the issue of Domestic Violence from a different angle and was recommitted to doing my part to make a change.

elijah and raeone

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to serve on an efficiently running board you know it’s a lot of work, combine that with the challenges of running ICON and of course the heavy client-related travel that i’m involved with, and you can see I had my hands full.  Much respect to my fellow board members for their professionalism and attention to detail.  I learned an enormous amount.

Of course just because my time as a serving board member has expired, I will still be providing support for the organization, notably in increasing awareness of Women’s Advocates – More Than A Safe Place Luncheon and Fundraiser  held in Minnesota May 23, 2013 in St. Paul, Minnesota.  For more information click HERE.

Additionally the ISC-Safety Net program is still in effect, with some very exciting news to be released in the upcoming months.  For a bit of background on the program, catch the news coverage HERE.

WA Gift

See related- Bodyguard Supports the Fight Against Domestic Violence 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ICON Social Summit Review and Recap

The ICON Executive Protection Academy kicked 2013 off with a bang.  In January we ran our well established Celebrity & VIP Protection Course immediately followed by our Advanced Executive Protection Course for those who were looking for continuing training in the close protection industry.  Sandwiched in between the two courses was our first Annual ICON Social Summit.  The Summit itself made waves, having originally been conceived to bring ICON Alumni of the previous years together to discuss best practices and network.  We tried to keep word of the Summit relatively under wraps (Prior to the event, I didn’t even do a Blog posting on it) however as word spread, we started getting inundated with request from industry peers who were also interested in attending.

One of the big draws to what came to be a by invitation only, sold out event, was our impressive lineup of guest speakers which had the distinction of having subject matter experts as speakers who were actually ACTIVE in the Protection field on a full-time basis.  (As my friend Tony Scotti would say, “What a concept”?)  The speaker roster included:

Mark JamesInternationally published author and CEO of Panther Protective Services

Eric Konohia:  CEO of BPI Security

Benjamin Alozie:  ICON Director of International Operations  

Raffaele Di Giorgio:  CEO of Global Options and Solutions 

Raffaele also had the distinction of traveling the furthest to be at the Summit, scheduling his time back in the US from an assignment in the Middle East around it.  Further enhancing the flavor and overall spirit of unity was the welcome presence of graduates of several other industry schools which included Executive Security International (ESI) the Executive Protection Institute (EPI) and the International Academy of Executive Protection Agents (IAEPA) as well as many members of the North American Bodyguard Association (NABA).

 

With a sold out attendee list and a full day of seminars (which included a few surprises) the Summit switched gears slightly to move to the “social” phase which was a chance for new Protectors to meet, old associates to get reacquainted, and those that knew each other solely from social media to finally put a real face to the virtual one.   The laughs were many, the exchange of contact information was frequent, and the amount of people that used the access of liquor at the nearby bar to damage their credibility was nil.

 

Immediately following the Summit, I launched into Day 1 of the ICON Advanced Executive Protection Course, so the feedback on what everyone thought was sporadic for me; however upon its conclusion I was able to truly get a sense that those in attendance appreciated the presentations and flow of the day and were looking forward to more in the future.  In fact, in addition to Summit presenter Eric Konohia’s Blog article on his experiences,  one able bodied Protector in attendance even took the time to do a video review.  Find it HERE.

With all of this said, the Summit Group is well into planning the 2nd Annual ICON Social Summit, and hope to continue to find new and creative ways to unite and strengthen the Executive Protection industry.  (Not counting the virtual fistfight almost broke out on the North American Bodyguard Association Facebook Page about where to hold the next Summit, but I digress…)

It truly warmed my heart to interact with a room full of like minded individuals who took the time out of their schedules to attend, and it is my hope that the best practices discussed and networking opportunities presented help make life easier for the men and women that risk their well being to engage in the business of Executive Protection.

Elijah Shaw~ ICON

To see a photo gallery of the 1st Annual ICON Social Summit Click HERE.

To get more information about the 2nd Annual ICON Social Summit Click HERE.

 

BPI Security Covers The ICON Social Summit

 

ICON was very honored to have Eric Kohonia of BPI Security as one of the Guest Speakers of the 1st. Annual ICON Executive Protection Academy Social Summit, recently held in Atlanta, GA.  For both the organizers and the attendees, the experience was a great one, and Eric decided to put some of his always candid views on the Summit as the topic of a Blog posting. *

Read it HERE

 

*I plan on writing on the experience as well, however right now i’m on day 6 of the 10 day ICON Advanced Executive Protection Course which began immediately following the Summit.

Analyze This – Security Risk of Drunken Airline Passengers

By Benjamin Alozie 

On the 5th of January 2013 on a New York bound flight from Iceland a DRUNKEN male passenger was DUCT-TAPED after a BOOZE-FUELLED MELTDOWN.

When you look at the photo of the duct-taped boozed passenger ts quick to see only the humor in that photo, but do we see the dangers as well?

All protection professionals and even private individuals that are security conscious owe it to themselves to look and see all incidents differently.

Let’s use this incident to launch our new feature, “LET’S ANALYZE THIS” by asking you to carefully study the photo below link it to the incident and comment on the possible risks and threats you see and how you’ll better prepare to mitigate it when traveling commercial alone or with your client.

“LET’S ANALYZE THIS”