Category Archives: Insider's Tips

Playing Well With Others in Executive Protection

The 2014 Grammy Awards is a very prestigious event. Every A-List celebrity you can think of in the entertainment industry; musicians, actors, models, but more importantly decision makers, shot callers and handlers are in attendance. For the Security Professional operating in the celebrity arena, it’s the equivalent of your team going to the super bowl – It likely took hard work to get there, it raises your profile, but the stakes are dramatically higher. In addition there’s the added pressure that, as opposed to working one on one with your Principal, you are now moving your client in an environment where he or she may not be the most famous person in the room. Things may take a little longer to happen, there are additional security procedures that apply to everyone and the undivided attention and assistance you once got from support staff is now splintered. In short your VIP is now one Very Important Person amongst many.

The problem I see too many in our industry make when faced with this situation is that instead of adapting, we try and throw their weight around. We become belligerent to the PA’s (personal assistants) who are in charge with navigating us around the event. We become acrimonious with law enforcement that has been given strict orders that in a place where “everybody is somebody “ all need to submit to security screening. Most telling of all, we sometimes treat our counterparts working close protection as adversaries as opposed to allies.

It’s that last point that I’ve found so fascinating in my many years in the industry. While I fully acknowledge that a contributing factor to success as a bodyguard is the “Alpha Male” Personality, I’ve never understood why when you put more than 3 of us in a room who are not on a detail together you can see territorial lines being drawn almost as clearly as if they were are with crayon.

Now don’t get me wrong there are definite exceptions to this rule (I try hard to consider myself one of them). There are some great guys and gals in the industry that every time I see them it’s an opportunity to combine intel and share resources. When on an event similar in scope to the Grammy’s we provide introductions to key staff and alert each other to any security or logistical problems. But more often than not, I see agents eyeing each other with suspicion and barley veiled contempt. You can almost hear their thoughts out loud:

“How did this guy get that client? I’m so much better than he is.”

“That’s not how you escort the Principal, diamond formations always work better than box.”

“This guy is standing too close to my Protectee’s GreenRoom, is he trying to steal my client”?

I know this situation is not unique to the Celebrity Protection market. My associates that operate in some of the more hostile areas of the world tell me about protection teams sizing each other up all the time. Of course the stakes are different when you’re in Iraq or Papa New Guinea. The point I’m trying to make is: Think how much could be accomplished if we simply adjusted our mindset that other EP Agents and event staff were all working for the same goal – The safeguarding of the individuals inside that collective circle of protection. Sometimes those rings will overlap and when they do, I’ll look at others providing services not as nuisances but as brothers (or sisters) at arms dealing with their own set of challenges. I believe that an attitude like this will pay back in dividends in the long run.

Allow me to relate a personal story; Rewind several years back to an earlier Grammy event where I attend with my Principal. While there I was impressed with the attitude and attentiveness of one of the gentleman working with the event security staff named TC. He assisted with intel beyond what was required and in general made our movements on site easier. While waiting in front of the dressing room, I remember a nearby agent working with an A-lister making a condescending comment about the event staff just being glorified doormen or retired cops –essentially, not on his level.

Afterwards I found that I would always run into TC at other prestigious events and he provided that same level of service when possible. He sent me his CV and after reviewing his impressive credentials I knew the agent that made the snarky remark didn’t know what he hell he was talking about. As things happen, one day I had to staff a last minute assignment and was short coverage, I called TC up, a bit nervous about what to expect but my back was to the wall. Long story short, he covered the assignment exceeding expectations. I share this to say that if I had felt annoyed or threatened by this professional I would have been 1. Making my job harder and 2. Missing out on a valuable resource that has helped me in my goal of making sure my clients are all well taken care of.

The right attitude can take you further in this business than a right hook, so we have to remember to practice our “people skills” the same way we practice our shooting skills.

ICON ESI Executive Protection Training

Preparing for Emergency One Step at a Time

 

During the early morning hours I was abruptly woken up by the BLARING alarm system of the luxury hotel I was staying at. I immediately threw on some pants and grabbed the phone and called the front desk at the same time scooping my go-bag to head down the hall to the clients room.

The hotel front desk answered and the receptionist sheepishly responded (over the sound of the alarm) that it was a system test and should be over “soon.”  I was then able to confirm much the same with hotel security.

For the next 20 minutes the Public Announcement system played a variation of beeps, bongs and a voice that said, “please stand by while the incident is being investigated.  While I’m pretty convinced this was a system malfunction, not a “test,” it brought to mind emergency evacuation procedures in a high-rise building, particularly as we were located on the 28th floor. With that in mind, I took advantage of some downtime later in the day to do a dry run of one vital part of a high-rise evacuation: Don’t take the Elevator, use the stairs.

Rapidly descending 28 flights, is one thing but imagine doing it with a client in tow, plus the influx of hundred of others doing the same thing in a panic and the possibility of low lighting and smoke. This incident was another reminder that those of us in the Executive Protection field must, expect the unexpected, and beyond that, be prepared to deal with it, when it comes.

 

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Internet Gangster Bodyguards

 

by Elijah Shaw

First off, what do I know about Gangsters? Well, I’m originally born and bred in Chicago Illinois, the Mecca of some of America’s most notorious gangsters. Al Capone made his bones here and Sam Giancana was so infamous they used part of his life story in The Godfather.

I also grew up in the inner city housing projects of the South Side of Chicago, and would not be overstating it one iota by describing my neighborhood as a warzone between two of the largest street gangs in the nation.

I say all of this to say, that I’ve got a bit of a historical pedigree when it comes recognizing basassness. (For some it’s a word) In short I know gangster. Gangsters do deeds that run the risk of punishment from the powers that be, and live by a code (however corrupt) that forms a philosophy that they latch onto. They do the crime, and even those that think they are invincible know somewhere in the back of their head, that if caught they must face the consequences — in many cases ending with incarceration or even death.

And then there are what I like to term the “Internet Gangsters,” those that use social media to bully, and intimidate the area residents in order to pave the way for their own agenda. Much like in the streets, they try and claim territory, except in this case, instead of neighborhoods and blocks, they try and stake their claim on message boards and news groups.

You know the type, just like the flashy mobsters of old; they try and impress the denizens with tales of their prowess. The give flowery examples of their superiority with a handgun, or hand to hand combat. They hint at their extensive client list that OWES them their life, and boast to whoever’s logged on at the time that they KNOW someone “legendary” that’s done SOMETHING “impressive.” Which I assume by default, makes them legendary as well.

In the urban areas there are two types of gangsters, “OG’s” or Original Gangsters. Individuals who have lived the life ages ago, and by virtue of that past pedigree have the influence and respect of their peers. They often can get away with what other’s cant because they have “been there done that” even if it was 3 decades ago. Then there are the “BG’s” or Baby Gangsters, which are the newcomers that have just entered the gangster lifestyle, and are trying to “earn their strips” by proving how tough they are.

Unfortunately in the Executive Protection community we have both types of gangsters, plying their trade on Social Media, those that look down on civilians and warriors alike for not having their level of experience, as well as those that overdo it so aggressively in an effort to gain recognition and respect that it’s almost comical. If it only affected themselves, that would be one thing, but remember, intimidation is a tool of tradecraft for the Gangster.

That means that on social media their outlet is usually those who are younger, more inexperienced, and less inclined to opposition.   In the message board “neighborhood,” you see it play out in the form of comments and post. The new guy will ask a new guy question, and the response from the “OG” is how dumb a question it is, or reply back in such a condescending manner that the questioner runs for the hills.   And then there’s the “BG” who writes a post or responds to one with such a tall tale about “their client” or the “50 man detail they were involved in” that it’s beyond belief.

The only one spared these attacks? The person that the Original Gangster sets his sights on, for grooming into the gang. That person, usually young and inexperienced, is typically spared the virtual lashing when they ask a question, and encouraged when they write a post that seems to focus more on the negative than the positive. They are being inducted, and without the proper interventions, suddenly they are exhibiting the same traits as the other gangsters.

Gang violence is an epidemic in some communities, and unfortunately it’s also starting to gain a foothold in social media. I mentioned earlier that I grew up in a gang infested neighborhood. One of the things I attribute to making it out of there (relatively) unscathed is the fact that there was “community policing” in the form of concerned citizens who said, “not on my watch, not on my block.” They didn’t stop the gang’s activities but they did make their presence unwelcome and by sheer force of will more than force of arms, compelled the gangs to take their activities a bit further in any direction but there. I vote do the same for Internet Gangsters.

Originally written for The Circuit – The Magazine for the Executive Protection Specialist learn more HERE.

The Transition from Night Club Security to Executive Protection

 

By Miguel DeCoste

This morning I was going through some paperwork — the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Vietnam, The West Indies, these are just some of the places the Executive Protection Industry has taken me. Oh yeah, and this is a good time to mention, that I started off working as a nightclub “bouncer”.

When I talk to club security staff, they often ask me, “How did you transition to VIP Protection and can I do the same?” And I tell them that in my case, it was a matter of being mentored, getting trained and certified, and utilizing what I learned working in nightclubs to forge a path into the professional world of Close Protection work.

Those of you working in the field of nightclub security should know that a lack of a Law Enforcement or military background is not necessarily a hindrance when it comes to doing Executive Protection. As a matter of fact, there are skills specific to nightclub work that transfer very well:

  • Observing people for questionable behavior, particularly in lowlight conditions
  • Defusing potentially violent situations
  • Dealing with “important people” who can be easily offended
  • Long stretches of time standing in one place
  • Working long or unusual hours, sometimes at a moments notice

For those of you considering a shift to VIP protection, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

WHY? – This is the really the most important question. Are you trying to be the cool guy in sunglasses and a suit or do you gain satisfaction at the idea of providing protection and acting as a facilitator for your Client? Can you handle putting yourself in harm’s way, sometimes far from home, often without recognition for a job well done?

WHAT and WHO? – Are you interested in high risk, high speed assignments in dangerous places? Are you interested in tactical medicine or logistics and advance work? Do you want to work in a corporate environment from 9 to 5? Or do you want to work with a high profile individual that does a lot of travelling? Each has its pros, cons, and challenges.

WHERE? – You can work in protection virtually ANYWHERE, but EVERYWHERE is not a good place to find or do protection work. Are you willing to move to find more work or are you going to try and carve a niche for yourself within your own location at the risk of failure?

HOW? –You need to figure out how to get in the door. Honestly, in my opinion, the only way to do it properly is with training, followed by certification in your field of interest (see What), a ton of networking, and yes, doing practically whatever job you are called upon to do in order to gain experience.

WHEN? – The answer to that comes from you. YOU have to take the initiative to get away from the computer screen, the xbox, the gym and begin your quest.

No one comes out of the box as James Bond or Creasy from Man of Fire. The only route to success is through dedication to the craft, continuous training, and hard work. Create a plan for yourself and find a mentor to help guide you. With some luck and perseverance your plan will pay off.

Good luck!

 

Miguel DeCoste, CPP is an Executive Protection Specialist and the owner of Coast Executive Services. With over 20 years of experience he has worked with numerous public figures around the globe. Miguel, a strategic partner and graduate of the ICON Executive Protection Academy, is also the author of Tao of the Velvet Rope, a blog focusing on the Nightclub Security Industry.

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Working Independently or Joining an Agency?

 

by Mark “Six” James CPO, EPS, CAS

For those old enough to remember “The Bodyguard” – Starring Witney Houston, Frank Farmer was the name of bodyguard played by Kevin Costner. While art often imitates life, life rarely imitates art.  However, Hollywood’s job is to entertain us first and focus on occupational accuracy second. Thus, the glamour of the big screen is often far removed from the real sweat equity that makes up the craft. Week after week all around the country there are back room, chat room and in your face discussions about transitioning into the Executive Protection Industry. Being in the protection field is not a job or career it is a commitment to a profession built on a lifestyle of service, honor and most importantly sacrifice.   You don’t make a decision to get into Executive Protection it has to be in you. There is nothing fun or sexy about agreeing to put your body at risk or standing on your feet for 14 – 18 hours often sleep deprived. However, there is nothing more rewarding than a client telling you “my family feels better and sleeps better when you and your team are around.” Regardless of the option you decide, we all share the common objectives of keeping the client safe and getting your team members and yourself back home safely.

Shortly after the initial contemplation about jumping in, comes the next ongoing debate, labor vs. management. Despite what appears to be the occasional rift, more times than not there is no rift at all, it really comes down to choices.

Choosing to work independently or for an agency really comes down to a few major considerations:

  1. Who assumes the bulk of the responsibility and liability?
  2. Who is responsible for the ongoing business development?
  3. Do I have the infrastructure to run the business (intellectual, technical, financial, legal and human)?
  4. Do I have the stamina to stick with it?
  5. Who receives the lion-share of the proceeds?
  6. Does my state legally allow for independent protection specialists?

Those questions remind me of something my fraternity brothers use to tell me when I was a pledge. “It is harder to be a brother than it is to pledge.” Trust me, it is far easier to be an employee than it is to own an agency.   Billionaire Mark Cuban in his advice to entrepreneurs says “Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy it’s not an obsession.” However, don’t confuse enthusiasm with competency and business development.

As an owner your mission is clear, enhance the strategic health of the agency. In addition to the day to day operations you must also focus on the one to three year operating plan. While it is great to have that A-List client today, if the business relationship changes so does your revenues and profits. In short, you eat what you kill, and what you can store and preserve for later.

You often may function best when you are lean with minimal overhead but have access to additional resources.   Strategic partnerships with like-minded and similarly trained individuals and organizations can help extend your strategic capabilities. The other challenge is how do you get your team operationally functional moving toward excellence. You have to train and develop your staff while simultaneously keeping both you and your team fed. In today’s economy those challenges have never been more apparent.   While the overhead may be higher, some of the key advantages of having your own agency are enhanced span of control, better focus, integration and commonality of vision and consistent standards. Whether you choose to own an agency, become an employee or choose to work independently, it is highly recommended you attend a bodyguard academy first. Newcomers often don’t realize how much they don’t know. While the initial investment will be a little higher it will significantly enhance your ramp up time. If you cannot afford to attend a reputable training academy that is the first sign you are not ready to be in the business. While historically many people come into the business with former backgrounds in security, law enforcement or the military there is nothing like protective services but protective services.

Often, when an individual chooses to work independently it is usually driven by wanting a more streamlined service model, limited overhead, enhanced profitability or the direct ability to control their own destiny. If your goal is to reduce overhead make sure that it does not come at the expense of proper credentialing. If more agents had the proper credentialing or knew how to better dimensionalize their value we would not see some of the rock bottom rate structures some offer in the marketplace. Remember, our clients don’t have budget issues, they often have safety and brand protection issues. Some people attempt to fly under the radar and use the term independent as a way of avoiding the overhead or reducing their cost structure. Please check with the state where you are looking to do business in to ensure that independent operators are legally allowed. In many states there is no such thing as an independent operator and an agent must work for a private agency. However, some states do allow independent agents. There is nothing worse than working a detail and the police stop your motorcade and detain or incarcerate you for not having the proper credentials. Not only will that ruin your future chances for working in the industry you may find yourself locked up for impersonating an officer. If you have had previous encounters or confrontations with other individuals you may find yourself liable for civil rights violations. Based on your previous unlicensed actions.

Some may choose to open their respective agency and only have one employee. One of the disadvantages is limited capacity and unified operating procedures when looking to take on larger opportunities. Throwing together a hodge-podge team is often easily identifiable and poor security or protection service fools no one but the person assembling the team. Having been blessed to have the same team for the past 7 – 10 years, I can tell you there is nothing more comforting than the operational chemistry of a seasoned team. Your best advertisement will always be your work so selecting the right team members when required is mission critical, not just to the detail but to your individual or company exposure. I have a general rule which I apply to all multi-member operations. If I have never trained with you, I can’t work with you. If you are too busy to train, then you are too busy to work.   It is only through ongoing familiarity can you truly extend the protection capabilities for your business and most importantly your client. During the detail is not the time to attempt to develop your personnel or develop team chemistry.

There is no right or wrong choice just personal preferences and business considerations. Choose wisely but most importantly be your own success story! Best of luck to you.

 

Mark “Six” James is Founder and Executive Director of Panther Protection Services, LLC. He is an internationally published author, keynote speaker, security consultant to educational institutions and frequent contributor to a number of print, broadcast and online media, and the author of a number of security, firearm and protection publications. Panther Protection Services is a full service protection agency focusing on Risk and Crisis Mitigation, Executive Protection, Self-Defense Training, and Firearm Instruction.  For additional information visit www.pantherprotectionservices.com.

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Returning to the Executive Protection Basics

 

Returning to the Basics to Grow

By Elijah Shaw

Several months ago I was burning the midnight oil having just returned from an overseas trip with a High Net-Worth corporate client who was doing something in relation to an international charity. As I set on my couch semi exhausted and working on some paperwork, I received a phone call from an individual that I’ve known for years with some pretty extensive ties to the entertainment industry. He asked if I was in town of which I replied yes, then without any warning, said he wanted me to speak to someone and passed the phone. The gentleman on the other line introduced himself to me as the manager of a hip-hop artist who I was familiar with by reputation only. This artist was new to the music scene, but extremely popular do to the massive response of the initial release of his songs.

The manager stated that he was in town with the artists for a performance, and was looking for security. Apparently, the artist main bodyguard had problems with his flight and would not be making the trip. After looking at my watch and the late hour I said I’d be happy to try and get him sorted, and told them I’d reach out to someone in my network and get back to him. His immediate response was, “I was actually hoping for you”. Looking at the mountain of paperwork that will spread out across my desk and knowing that this artist was a rapper with a VERY “urban” audience, my first inclination was to say no. While I have no problems with the music business, I don’t usually work with rappers that I don’t have long standing relationships with these days, simply because I like to choose my battles. (Translation: I want to be the only one with a firearm in the entourage!) There was an obvious pause on the phone as I thought about it, and then my response was, “sure give me the details”.

Fast forward to a night that included a crowded nightclub, a large entourage, fights in the audience, “groupies” backstage, and overzealous house security and you get an idea of how the night was. –-Crazy.

With that said, the crowds response was massive, and if you’ve been in the business for as long as I have, you start to recognize the next big star in the making. The Principal himself was low key and respectful. The manager was easy to work with and gave me the responsibility I needed to get the job done. After the performance we went directly from the stage to the waiting SUV parked right outside the back door, did a few loops to loose any tails and took the Principal up to his room for the night. (This was now 2:00 am with a 4:30 am lobby call so that the travel party could leave to make their plane).

Throughout the night, the manager asked several questions about my background and after getting the Principal to the airport thanked me for the last minute service and said he would keep my contact information handy. Later the next day I got a call from the client’s rep asking if they could schedule a call to discuss an upcoming overseas tour as the Principal himself had noticed a difference in the service provided that night from what I assume he normally received and asked him to call. I said I’d be open to “discussion” and that’s where we left it. He also mentioned the portfolio of other artist he represents, several of who were in different musical genres and wanted to discuss services for each.

A funny postscript of this story is the initial contact I mentioned at the beginning of the tale was part of the group that called me in for music megastar over 10 years ago. In fact the performance was in the same venue. At the time this individual was also a new artist with a “hardcore” fan base, and from working with him on a one off assignment, the call back from that turned into a long and fruitful relationship, in which he traveled the world and subsequently sold 14 million copies of his first album. My handling of the security was both financially rewarding and opened the doors to other relationships that led to other business.

The point I’d like to get across is that at any time the phone rings, it’s a potential opportunity calling. While it’s certainly ok (and necessary) to say no at times, remember that every opportunity can be a doorway to another opportunity. The Close Protection industry is a business, and the only way a business thrives is by having the lights on and the sign reading “OPEN”. Who knows, that next call you receive might be the one that takes your business to the next level.

Originally written for my ongoing column entitled, “Keeping Your Edge”  for  The Circuit ~ The Magazine for the Executive Protection Professional.  Find this article and more by clicking HERE.

Dr. Paul Viollis to Deliver Keynote Address at ICON Social Summit

 

The ICON Academy is proud to announce Dr. Paul Viollis, PH D will be delivering the keynote address at the 2nd Annual ICON Academy Social Summit, January 25 & 26, 2014 in Orlando, FL.  The Summit was created for members of the Executive Protection Community to network and discuss best practices in a contemporary manner.  As such, we consider it a major honor that Dr. Viollis has taken time from his busy schedule to join the speaker line up.

 

Best Practices For Protecting the Affluent

Wealth brings considerable attention and security exposure to families across the globe. Dr. Paul Michael Viollis, Sr., CEO of Risk Control Strategies (RCS), the nation’s leading security adviser to the high-net worth community, is a renowned expert on workplace security, counter terrorism threat assessment, and private client security, providing security solutions to affluent community for many years. By giving pragmatic advice and strategic countermeasures, Dr. Viollis supplies a security blueprint that can not only be deployed during a crisis, but can also help to preemptively mitigate risks.

Agenda

 

  • Validating the threat level
  • Conducting the vulnerability assessment
  • Creating secure electronic communications
  • Crafting the crisis management & emergency response plan
  • Implementing thorough employer/contractor background screening
  • Establishing an investigative due diligence process prior to all relationships/investments
  • Estate security protocols and Home invasions countermeasures
  • Travel security / personal protection
  • Safeguarding luxury assets (i.e., Yachts, Aircraft, Art)
  • Special event security

Silent Safety

 

About Paul Viollis

Paul Viollis is a subject matter expert in workplace security, counter terrorism threat assessment, workplace violence, private client security, police training, exam validity, school violence and domestic violence. Dr. Viollis has been involved in thousands of investigations and specializes as a security advisor for the affluent community as well as in workplace violence behavioral analysis of which he is currently recognized as one of the foremost experts in the world. Dr. Viollis is the author and lead editor for Jane’s Publishing’s book “Workplace Security”, co-authored “Safe & Sound”…Security Solutions for the Affluent and most recently co-authored his marquee book, “Silent Safety” Best Practices for Protecting the Affluent.

To learn more about the 2nd Annual ICON Academy Social Summit, and view the full speakers list, click HERE.

 

Summit Group (Circuit Ad) 1

 

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.

10 Tips for Protectors Involved in Touring

 

  1. Learn the value of a durable suitcase and a portable steamer.  If you are on the road for any duration of time, your suitcase is going to take a beating.    Additionally, unless you are a seasoned packer, what’s inside the case may not be “ready to wear,” when it’s time to hit the ground running.  Of course if you’re lucky, the nicer hotels may do your ironing for you at no charge, but it pays to be prepared for the worst.
  2. Make sure you take advantage of all the frequent flier programs.   An insider secret is that while outside parties usually make the arrangements and pay for the bodyguards travel, in most cases the actual traveler gets the mileage credit.  A worldwide tour (provided your not flying private) could easily mean a few free roundtrip tickets when you finally do get some downtime.
  3. Be careful what you eat, especially in a foreign country.  The exotic dishes shown on the food channel might look tempting but they may come at a cost, if you don’t have a ironclad stomach.  Running back and fourth to the airplane lavatory is not fun, and let’s not even discuss tour bus facilities (let’s just say, that’s a good way to loose allies quickly).
  4. Always pack your own luggage and know what you’re carrying!  TSA security does not care who you work for, you hold it, you own it.   Also, for those of us in the profession who carry firearms, we also know the additional hassle of trying to check one in prior to boarding, so give yourself some extra time.
  5. Remember: Reporters are not your friends. Say something and you might be (mis)quoted, so if you find yourself in a situation where you are corned by you, it’s best to point them to the client’s publicist or someone in else in management.  With that said, contrary to popular belief, the worst person to be “heavy handed” to is the media. You might not get mentioned by name, but overly aggressive actions could cast your client (and therefore your potential future earnings) in a bad light.
  6. Avoid Groupies.  Bad things can happen to good people.  Meet an unscrupulous person who’s intent on scoring a payday by putting you or your client in a compromising position, and you could end up in the papers, or worst, the back of a police car.
  7. Find the hotel gym, not the hotel bar.  In theory, Close Protection Agents are on call, so you don’t want to be pounding a few down just before something happens.  Tour life means lots of travel, more convenient access to fast (junk) food, and long day and nights.  Staying fit is a vital part of the equation if you are going to do it for the long haul.
  8. Don’t get caught “flat footed.”  There is a routine to tour life, I mean when you think about it; it’s the same show, over and over.  After the 100th viewing you probably can even do the dancer’s chorography yourself. However, with that comes the creeping monster of complacency, and before you know it, instead of being in the wings with a close eye on your client, you are at catering getting a second helping of that delicious apple pie.  And while nothing has happened until now, that’s just the time when Murphy’s Law strikes.  Stay in the moment
  9. If you are assigned to protect the client, you cannot delegate YOUR responsibility.   Sure there may be event security, law enforcement, ushers and production staff, but at the end of the day, if your role is to ensure the safety and security of the client, you are responsible for 360 degrees of total coverage, everyone else might make your life easier, but the buck stops with you.
  10. Remember why you are there. This is an important one.  Sure a tour means seeing new and exciting people, places and things, but the role of the Executive Protection Agent is to be the first line of defense in protecting the client from harm. Often in a tour setting you might find yourself playing several different positions just to make it all run smoother, but no one in our profession wants to be known as the person who was on the scene when something goes bad and couldn’t fix the problem, or worse yet, the Protector who was distracted to notice.

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