Category Archives: Quotes

An Open Letter Regarding the ICON Bodyguard Scholarship Program

 

To the ICON Selection Committee:

I am writing to express my sincere gratitude to all responsible parties for making the Icon Academy Training Scholarship possible.  I was thrilled to learn of my selection for this honor and I am deeply appreciative of your support.  The Icon Celebrity & VIP Protection Course that I attended was truly a learning experience that I intend to use to further my career in the Executive Protection Industry.

I’m currently a law enforcement officer with over fifteen years of experience which has included serving on SWAT, the Gang Unit, the Street Crime Unit, as well as being assigned to the Housing Authority Unit. I can honestly say that being a law enforcement officer does not instantly qualify one to be a bodyguard. While the overall intentions of both an officer and bodyguard are to protect, the methods of protection differ, in some cases dramatically.

During my training at ICON, the CEO, Elijah Shaw touched on different subjects such as the profiles of a celebrity, the challenges one would face in the industry, and of course the responsibilities of a bodyguard.  One of the things I enjoyed was that the classroom time was never strictly lectures; we also participated in a variety of drills and exercises that ensured we understood the subject matter. Also during class, we were being pushed physically by several of the instructors, including Justin Newcomb, a champion Mixed Martial Arts fighter who I now know to be a quiet and reserved pillar in the industry.  Justin Johnson, another talented instructor who is also active in the operational side of the industry, (an important point) provided extensive firearms training during the course that imparted me with some valuable tools.

The week was also filled with some very prominent guest instructors who are very recognizable names in the industry such as Tony Scotti of Tony Scotti’s Vehicle Dynamic’s Institute and Mark “Six” James, of Panther Protection Services. Both were gracious enough to offer their expertise and answer off-the-subject questions during breaks.  I would certainly suggest future students research these individuals so they can fully appreciate what their presence and participation says about the program.

The last part of the training concluded with our participation in a real life Security Detail (one of several running simultaneously). I had the honor of being chosen to be team leader, and responsible for an actual celebrity VIP, T*** D***, of VH1 reality show, “Scream Queens” from the moment her plane arrived in the city.  The assignment was a learning experience in which me and my team were able to take our classroom training and apply it in the most hands on way possible.  Everything that Mr. Shaw and the other instructors introduced in class became reality.   In short they capped an already impressive course with the best illustration I could think of involving understanding what it takes to be bodyguard on a Celebrity security detail.    

In closing, I would highly recommend this course to anyone looking to get in the industry or advance their current skills. I would like to thank the Selection Committee for making the opportunity possible.   While I am not sure if anything like this scholarship program currently exists elsewhere in the industry, it makes perfect sense that it would be found at ICON as they appear to be innovators.  Please thank Mr. Shaw, who I found to be a humble individual whose reputation preceded him, along with the staff, guest instructors, and VH1’s, T*** D***.    I promise you I will continue along this path to success in the Executive Protection field and eventually give something back to others.  I see myself doing this both as a Professional Bodyguard and as well as an Alumnus who will donate towards the ICON Academy scholarship providing a rare opportunity for a future student like myself.

Sincerely,

Curtis Greene

ICON 2011 ALUMNI

ICON Bodyguard Course Recap

 

ICON is proud to announce the successful completion of our October 5-day ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Course!  Thank you to the 17 students that attended, making the commitment of both time and resources to achieve their individual goals of succeeding in the Executive Protection Industry.  

Like past courses, we packed the schedule with as much information, tactics, scenarios and drills as we are able to in an effort to maximize the students limited time spent with us.  In addition,this session, we were happy to have two “thought leaders” in the industry as guest instructors, namely Security Driving Guru, Tony Scotti of Tony Scotti’s Vehicle Dynamic’s Institute and Mark “Six” James of Panther Protection Services.  Both Tony and Mark brought decades of hands-on experience from their perspective fields and everyone, from the instructors on down, were very happy to have them at the Academy.  As one previous Alumni put it, having the opportunity to hear Mr. Scotti speak on the role Armored Cars play in VIP Protection, or “6”discuss the anatomy of the shooting of Former President Reagan from both the attacker and the protectors viewpoint, was worth the price of attendance alone.

 

Next course, January 11-15, 2012.  

To sign up for future classes, which now feature scholarship and special finance options, click HERE.

 

“I recognized the enormous benefits in training internationally with like minded professionals in our field.  Having instructors and presenters that actively work within the industry and who are willing to share their wealth of practical information, transposed to world class training that was both interesting & informative, with a focus on the real aspects of the work.  I will not hesitate to recommend the course to my friends and colleagues in the industry.”  ~ Chris Feretopoulos from Melbourne, Australia on why he choose to attend the course.

Scholarships for Bodyguards

 

VIP offers Training Scholarship to Bodyguards Doing Good

4 full Scholarships to training academy offered annually

ST. PAUL, MN – August 1, 2011 – ICON Services Corporation a full service agency specializing in Celebrity, VIP & Executive Protection has partnered with an existing client to provide scholarships for their recognized bodyguard training programs.  The division, dubbed the ICON Academy was designed by ICON CEO Elijah Shaw, as a way to teach realistic training in the areas of close protection work that is more “hands on” than “abstract theory.”

The Angel Scholarship will be awarded based on the criteria of leadership abilities, contributions to community, individual character and financial needs.  Among other qualifications, the applicant must submit an 800 word essay on how they would positively influence the industry, as well as, log documented hours volunteering on a charitable project of their choice.

The scholarship benefactors, who have chosen to remain anonymous, believe in the value of quality training from a recognized program.  “As someone who has used personal security for some time now, it’s apparent that anyone can say they do the work, but those with a passion for protecting others should be recognized. Society rewards unscrupulous bodyguards for writing “tell all” books; however, I know there are individuals that live by a code of professionalism and I want to support them in their endeavors.”  Said one of the award benefactors.

About ICON Services Corporation

Established in 1998, ICON Services Corporation offers a full slate of services, including celebrity, VIP and executive protection internationally.  Having been voted as was one of the Top 20 Executive Protection Schools in the world by BodyguardCareers.com, the Minnesota-based ICON Academy has attracted students from all over the globe including Canada, South Africa & Australia.  The diverse roster is also proud to include former members of the United States Secret Service and the US Special Forces community among its alumni.

 

For more information, click HERE or call 651.695.8778

 


Celebrity Protection: How Not to Go Overboard

 

I know it might sound odd, but you can do effective VIP Protection for recognizable personalities without having to resort to tactics that would paint your Client in a negative light.  We’ve recently seen some horror stories about what happens when a bodyguard is overly aggressive.    Executive Protection Agents can most effectively ensure the safely of the VIP by remembering that one of the most important pieces of the puzzle comes in the planning & preparation stage.  In industry lingo, we term that the Advance, which includes  anticipating encounters  before they happen and having effective systems in place to negate or counter them.

While some view the fans, the press and the paparazzi as a major problem, we have to be aware that, particularly in the arena of Celebrity Protection, those three are a constant.    Taking the wrong approach in dealing with them could have a negative effect to the client, and one that could also affect security.  (Insiders tip, managers and agents don’t like bad press, if the Protection Agent is responsible for it –even if they thought they were doing the “right thing”,  they could still be on the unemployment line).

I try and stress this fact during the Celebrity & VIP Protection Training Course that I teach at ICON.  “Verbal Judo” is sometimes more effective than taking them to the floor.  With that said, it’s always nice to hear it from someone else:

Via the Star Tribune

“The security guys with Kim Kardashian garnered praise for being impressively un-heavy-handed.

Although Kardashian was in a VIP section, the security was not pouncing every time she was approached. One excited woman was gently asked not to rush up on Kardashian but to give the reality star a few minutes to adjust to the scene.

As you can see from my video, the security guys were calm and civil and not shoving people out of the way as she and her fiancé arrived at the restaurant.”

full story HERE.

 


 

Armored Men Author Tom Taylor Inteview

 

The upcoming issue of the Circuit Magazine – The Magazine for the Executive Protection Agent takes a moment to speak with noted author Tom Taylor regarding his newest book “Armored Men”.  Having worked on other titles such as the novel “Mortal Shield” and the excellent work “Just 2 Seconds” (with Gavin de Becker), Mr. Taylor has the distinction of being not just an accomplished writer, but also a seasoned Security Operator, having spent many years as part of the security detail for a US Governor.  Below is a excerpt from the interview.

You have had an internationally recognized career protecting the likes of President Ford to Mikhail Gorbachev, what was the motivation behind your career as a Protector?

I saw Steve McQueen in the movie Bullitt in 1968 in which he and his team had to protect a mob witness. It planted a seed in me about doing protection work. In 1973, I began working as a road trooper in Kansas City for the Missouri Highway Patrol. Four months later, the Patrol began the first full-time security detail for a Missouri governor, called the Executive Security Unit (ESU), with a sergeant and six troopers. At that time, most states had a full-time detail for their governors. In 1974, ESU had their first vacancy when one of the members transferred out. They asked my training officer if he wanted the slot since he had assisted the detail several times and done a good job. He declined, but recommended me. Within two weeks — at 23 and with no protective experience or training – I was protecting the governor. It would be two years before I got any formal training, when I attended the Secret Service’s week long “Protective Operations Briefing” in Washington, DC. I’ve loved EP work since that first detail.

With such a successful career as a Protection Agent, where did the idea of becoming a novel writer come from?

I’ve always been an avid reader and my favorite authors are Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, and Alex Berenson. I’ve always had an interest in writing, as well. In 1991, I wrote a series of articles about EP work for the Missouri Trooper magazine. I was commanding the division at that time, protecting my fourth governor, and wrote the series because so many officers had misconceptions about protection work. The series won the Article of the Year Award. I began toying with the idea of writing a novel in the mid-1980s. I had worked around all of the other governor’s details for years and heard many great stories. So in the late 1990s, I began writing my first novel. In Mortal Shield, many of the situations in the book were inspired by true events that happened to some protective detail.

Armored Men, seems to have made a splash in the Executive Protection industry as well as the mainstream public, was it your intent to create these “hero-like” character who reach all walks of life?

Absolutely. I’ve had many people who know nothing about protection tell me they loved the book and now have more respect for protective agents. Over the years, one question I heard more often than any other from members of the general public was: “What’s your job like?” They watch Hollywood’s portrayal of protectors and use that as their reference. There is plenty of fiction that portrays realistic situations for military or law enforcement figures. But it’s rare to find a novel that accurately captures a story about EP operations. You’ll find protectors accurately mentioned in the storyline of a Clancy or Flynn novel, but the book isn’t about those characters. So I decided to write that book.

What has been your reaction to how well this book has been received by protection agents worldwide?

As I say in the Author’s Note, the most meaningful feedback has been from other protectors. Especially from other top experts, like Bob Duggan at ESI, Hans van Beuge at Savior Protective Services, and Elijah Shaw at Icon.  The positive feedback from protectors all over the world shows we all face the same challenges.

For the full interview conducted by Derrick “Bear” Collins, watch for the Summer 2011 issue of The Circuit – The Magazine for Bodyguards.

 

 

 

What Its Like For a Woman Training To Be A Bodyguard

by Lori Edwards

I distinctly remember coming to the sudden and uneasy conclusion that I really didn’t have any idea what I was getting myself into.  My seatmate on my flight had asked me why in the world a girl from Texas would come all the way to Minnesota by herself, especially in January, without any personal history there or family ties to the area.  I chuckled a little and explained that I’d be attending a class that would train me to become a bodyguard.  He wondered aloud if I was serious.  I simply smiled and nodded.

I’m not exactly what you’d picture a female bodyguard to be.  Although I’m very athletic and have two black belts in Taekwondo, most people don’t suspect it.  In fact, most folks would take one look at me and drop me into the category of “indoor girl” pretty quickly.  And of course, so did my seatmate.  In rapid fire succession, he began showering me with questions regarding all the things the class might require of me, and if I thought I was adequately prepared for it.  The only response I could manage was, “I really don’t know.”

I spent the rest of the week finding out.

The 5-day ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Course is arranged very intelligently.  Beginning with some brief welcoming statements and announcements, we jump right in.  ICON CEO, Elijah Shaw, starts with some lectures about team formations and foot drills.  About an hour in, we hop up from our seats and start literally walking out the things that his 17 years in the business has taught him.  Then we move into tactical weapons drills led by Assistant Instructor and resident firearms expert, Mike Briggs.  Holster drills on verbal command with a realistically heavy, but imitation firearm consume the next hour or so.  I must admit, having never handled a weapon either real or fake, this was challenging to me.  Trust me when I tell you, that during the initial movement drills I probably have never found my left and my right so ridiculously confusing.  Thankfully, our final instructor and champion mixed martial art fighter, Justin Newcomb rescued me by announcing to the class that it was time to take two hard laps and meet him in the gym.  Aaaahhhh, relief.  This part is something I know I can do, –Interval training.  The instructors tell us we will have a 5-minute workout.  It’s true.  What they don’t tell us, is that it’s a butt-kicking five minutes.  I’m game, and have the sneaky suspicion this won’t be the last time we’re at the gym. Then back to the classroom to discuss some of the broader issues of Executive Protection.

Did I mention, all this was before lunch?

We spend that afternoon and the next few days repeating the cycle of classroom discussion, walking/formation drills, weapons drills later on, live fire at the gun range), physical training and industry-specific do’s and don’ts.  Each session, we expand and practice our skills, and information received at a pace that only NASA can truly comprehend.  The instructors begin throwing in unexpected surprises to keep us guessing, and learning.  At the end of every day, I am spent.  I had no idea the amount of information that these professionals must process, and how quickly they must process it in order to keep their clients safe and sound.

Add to all that craziness the unique challenges that come with being female, and you begin to get a reasonable idea of my personal experience.  I wanted to make sure that I made a good impression right away, so I showed up on the first day looking nice.  Not formal ball-gown nice, but reasonably professional.  I had spent ample time online researching ICON and was well aware that Elijah Shaw is nearly always in a suit.  First rule of business: Never show up sloppy when the boss expects a suit.  I also knew that this course was very hands-on, and as such, there would be some physical activity.  No details were given as to our daily schedule or the demands thereof, so I decided to land somewhere in the middle.  I wore nice pants, a jacket I could remove easily, and my favorite stiletto boots.  I did fine until break time when Mike Briggs wandered up asking me if I had brought gym shoes.  I had, but they were in the hotel, because surely our kindhearted instructors would warn us of what we’ll need when we’ll need it.  Heads up future classmates:  a deliberate lack of pertinent information is a constant, so come prepared for anything – just like in the real world of VIP Protection. Needless to say, I spent most of the day running laps and all the other physical training in barefoot. (And carefully.  I mean you don’t really want to ruin a $65 pedicure slamming into the gym equipment so I considered it practice in situational awareness).

I also tried my hand at figuring out when it was safe to put my boots back on.  Just as soon as I had convinced myself that the workouts were finished for the day, I slipped them back on.  About that time, Justin Newcomb tiptoed up behind me and whispered, “You’re gong to want to take those boots off again….”.  Bless him.  I actually thought about running the laps while wearing the stilettos, but decided against it.  So I just gave up.  I wore running shoes the remainder of the week, however there’s more to the story where those boots are concerned.

Everything went smoothly until Friday night.  I ended up pulling an all-nighter as part of a real-world exercise through which ICON puts its course attendees.  I took the first client shift, which lasted from roughly 10pm to 6am.  I was wearing a radio device with which I have no previous experience.  In the chaos of last-minute information and preparation, I threw the earpiece on and the radio in my front jacket pocket.  There were several loose wires flapping about, but I didn’t really care as, the clock was ticking and I had to get on post.  No worries right?  Well that is until the instructors came to visit me on site.  There’s something very unsettling about three grown, strong men standing together in a huddle while smirking and rubbing their foreheads.  Mike Briggs convinced me to slip off my suit jacket and got me reorganized into the very picture of a female Close Protection Agent:  black jacket, white shirt, black skirt, black tights and those 4 & ½ inch black stiletto boots.  I’m a mom, so I know what its like to stay up all night looking after someone.  I’ve just never done it in those boots before.  You learn in training, so you don’t make the mistakes in the real world.

Twenty-four hours later, I find myself about to enter Force-on-Force Drills.  In that moment, I have no idea what is about to happen, I only know I’m not really crazy about the sound of it.  I’ve never shot the realistic airsoft training weapons before.  More importantly, I’ve never been shot BY the airsoft training weapons before!  I had nightmarish visions of being in a room with all my classmates and instructors just shooting ferociously until someone has the compassion to yell “TIME’S UP!”.  I worried needlessly.  That’s not what force-on-force drills are about.  These exercises are designed to place the trainee in situations that as closely as possible mimics real world experiences.  Trust me when I tell you they are valuable and bring a whole new element to the course.  To this day I find myself mentally rehearsing some of the multiple scenarios I went through that evening.  In my mind I’m moving the client, negotiating check points, climbing walls, jumping over people or things, asking questions, taking charge, providing cover, evacuating, locating exits, thinking critically, and looking for the less than obvious.

I think that’s the point of good, solid training:  It stays with you.

Before the ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Course, I was just a yoga-mom from Texas.  During this course I challenged myself to become something that I’ve always envisioned:  brave, decisive, resourceful and capable.  In the middle of the week I questioned my decision to be there, and I questioned my ability to do this job to the extent that I thought about packing up and going home.

I’m so glad I didn’t.

By the end of the course, I had experiences I will never forget, and was handed opportunities I’d have never believed.  I was challenged far more than I expected, resulting in a depth of confidence I’ve never known.  I loved it so much that I’m actively seeking my next opportunity to train.  I’ll get some gun range time with Mike Briggs later in the spring, and hopefully, I’ll get to take the 10-day Advanced Executive Protection Course soon.  In the meantime, I’m hoping to establish a foundation in the industry through Advance work—The security preparations and logistics that occur before the actual client even enters the area.  We had one assignment specifically on advance work during the course, and I did particularly well at it.   I now find myself making mental sketches of practically any building I walk into, even here in my hometown.  I draw mental route cards, too, when I’m traveling.  So, I’ll be looking for opportunities to continue to implement skills, while my girls are attending summer camps and other things.  Eventually, and with continued training, I’d like to move toward protecting female celebrities at events, and finally as their personal protection.  We girls gotta look out for each other, you know.  I have to believe that for the newcomer or as a refresher, whatever your goals or interests are in the field of Executive & VIP Protection, this course will meet them.

Take it from the “indoor girl” – you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note:  We plan for this to be the first of several articles by Lori that while chronicle her experiences as a newcomer in the Executive Protection Industry. (of course without violating any client confidentiality.)  We hope that it will serve as an inspiration for others and the realities of the profession.


 

ICON CEO Elijah Shaw Interviewed on America’s Frontlines

This Friday at 1:00 pm CST i’ll have the pleasure of being interviewed on the radio show “On America’s Frontlines of Crime & War” found on Voice America which broadcast to over 130+ countries.  The show, hosted by JJ Sutton & William Vinelli has had some pretty interesting and engaging guest in the past, such as Security Driving Expert Joe Autera and the controversial Joe Arpaio, better known as  “America’s Toughest Sheriff”.  Both tough acts to follow, so i’ll try not to put anyone to sleep.

Here’s the episode blurb:

The protection industry has been around for centuries. Words that spring to mind are Honor, Integrity, Warriors, and so on. Today the industry is much different than what it once was. Some of the driving factors are the fact that private wealth has changed our society dramatically. We now think of Celebrity Protection as the top most level of private industry work. It has many appealing factors that draw new faces to our industry. Traveling on private planes, staying in luxury hotels, and attending the best parties – but behind the scenes real professionals are quietly handling some of the most detailed choreography that defines them as the true professionals they are. These hardworking men and women are the real deal in Celebrity Protection work and they do follow the age old adage of handling things with Honor &, Integrity. In this episode we speak with a Celebrity Protection Expert, Elijah Shaw who discusses how hard the work really is.

To catch the show click HERE.

The Alpha Male Trait in Executive Protection

Playing Well With Others

by Elijah Shaw

The 2011 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 written 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 client’s door, 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  simply we 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.

Read the full story in The Circuit – The Magazine for Bodyguards by ordering HERE.

2010 – The Year in Review

As 2010 winds down I’d like to thank all of the readers and contributors of Bodyguard Blog for their support.  I’ll admit it was a challenge to run my agency, ICON Services Corporation, be an active Operator, and keep the Blog going on a consistent basis.  One of the things that helped, was constantly pulling in fresh content as well as realizing that I didn’t want Bodyguard Blog to be just about ME.

Some of our most popular post in 2010 were the Industry Spotlights, in which we cover professionals in the world of Executive Protection featuring:  The UK’s Shaun West, Old Soldier: Dave Marris, Sexton’s Jerry MacCauley, Mark James & Benjamin Alozie. (Look for more Female Close Protection Agents in 2011!)

In keeping with our philosophy that the Bodyguard Industry is more than just guns and take downs, we enlisted the aid of Protocol & Etiquette Coach Susanne Dancer to provide some lessons in the “soft skills” that would help us more effectively do our job.  You can find her tips on Protocol & Etiquette HERE.

And lastly, we all know that the job of VIP Protection is serious, but the people that do it, are just that –people, and can even crack a smile once in awhile — we introduced the very well received “Caption This” feature.  if you want to take a break from a stressful day and chuckle at humorous photos (and comments) click HERE.

Once again, thanks for  reading.   Big plans for 2011, so stay tuned!

~ Elijah Shaw


The Executive Protection Magazine

While Blogs & Newsgroups might be the wave of the future in terms of delivering up to the minute news reporting, there is still a place for the printed page.  In the world of Executive Protection, The Circuit Magazine fills that niche offering news, tips, interviews, equipment reviews and more with all things related to the Bodyguard & Close Protection Industry.

Now on issue #10, the fine folks at the North American Bodyguard Guard Association (NABA) also with the long-standing British Bodyguard Association (BBA) produce a full-color magazine that covers the A-Z of security industry.

A subscription to the magazine comes free with membership to either of the above organizations, or you can order individually HERE.

If past issues are what you are looking for, I’d also suggest checking out BodyguardMagazines.com, where you can order, and also find a preview of the articles.