Category Archives: Resources

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.


An EPIC Recap


Had a great time speaking and attending the 30th Annual Conference hosted by Executive Protection Institute (EPI) and the Nine Lives Associates (NLA).  The event, held in Orlando Fl, consisted of a well balanced mix of seasoned industry veterans as well as  newcomers to the profession who were eager to network and learn.  This was also my first meeting with EPI’s esteemed founder Dr. Richard Kobetz who sat front row during my presentation entitled “A Day In the Life – The Anatomy of a VIP Protection Assignment.”  (When he told me that he enjoyed it, it more than made up for the powerpoint delay that happened at the start!)  With additional presentations that included Harlan “Hucky” Austin, Robert “Rick” Colliver, Charles Randolph, Bill Peeler and a keynote by Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman, I knew I was in esteemed company. Additional thanks to EPI Executive Director Jerry Heying and his team for putting on a great event.

Thanks for the invite,

Elijah Shaw, CEO

Icon Services Corporation  


ICON CEO Elijah Shaw to Speak at EPIC


ICON CEO Elijah Shaw will be speaking at the 29th Annual Conference hosted by Executive Protection Institute (EPI) and the Nine Lives Associates (NLA) This Conference was previously closed to members and guests only but is now open to the qualified public; Security and Law Enforcement Professionals, and those currently in the field.

The conference consist of educational sessions with well known speakers such as Joe Autera of Tony Scotti’s Vehicle Dynamic’s Institute and Harlan Austin of Bodyguard Careers.  In addition there is a large focus on industry networking, with the event being capped off with a Black Tie Awards Dinner.



For more information on EPIC click HERE.

ICON Executive Protection Themed Targets

A couple years ago, I commented to the instructors of  ICON Services Corporation how during the live-fire drills of our training courses I would like to use a paper target that spoke more to our industry as Executive Protection Agents.  Prior to this, we had been using some of the fairly common full-color situational targets that law-enforcement and the military shoot for practice (some of which had to have been photographed during the Reagan-Era).  While some were pretty good, none of them seemed to give me exactly what I was looking for — the scenario where I, as an Executive Protection Agent, has to suddenly pull my firearm to defend my client (as opposed to disarming a masked robber or shooting Bin Laden as many of the targets on the market portray).  As mentioned, we tried a few… then tried a few more, but I still didn’t “love ’em”.
Then inspiration struck.  If I couldn’t find what I was looking for, then I might as well create it.  Long story short, ICON was able to partner with North America’s largest distributor of paper targets to create the ICON VIP Protection Target Line.  Shot by the wonderful photographer Kiki Koralesky of Contact Front Photography, our initial series of 6 has been well received and have been met with brisk enough sales for the manufacturer to request additional targets in the future.  As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.
Fast forward to July of 2011 where I got a note from a good friend of mine working in Afghanistan that referenced the “World being a small place“.  Turns out that while setting up some training with some other VERY distinguished Operators in that area of the world, he took a look at the paper targets they are using and guess what? –Yep, ICON.   While I do keep track though the distributor of the volume of sales, and realize that it’s not just the Close Protection community using them as orders have been place with Law Enforcement and Government Institutions, it was still nice to learn that the targets were serving their purpose in such a hostile area of the world.  The intent was to give the shooter a realistic situational target and in a region of the world where the stakes are as high as it gets, taking the time to train with the line speaks volumes.

Click here to learn more about the ICON VIP Protection Target Line.



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, where you can order, and also find a preview of the articles.

Tipping Etiquette for the Executive Protection Agent

Bodyguard Blogs new ongoing feature on Etiquette & Protocol.  Like any other profession, image is important in our business and first impressions are lasting ones.  Knowing how to shoot is great, but if you can not get a second interview with an employer, all those great skills might go to waste.  To assist, we’ve enlisted the services of writer and etiquette coach, Susanne Dancer.

Q: The client has put me in charge of tipping (I get reimbursed of course) but what are some good baseline amounts and who exactly get’s tipped at a hotel? (bellman, front desk, valet?) – Alex M.  Executive Protection Agent, Virginia

A: If you are tasked with tipping remember perception is important.  Try not to have your client perceived as stingy, but do not be excessive with someone else’s money either.  Tipping does vary around the world and in some counties like Australia it is not considered  common practice.  However with that said, it is always greatly appreciated by the staff concerned, be it a hotel, restaurant or your car service driver.  Always carry small notes with you as not to ask for change.  The currency of the country you are in is desired, however most places around the globe welcome US dollars (however recent economics might change that.)

In general the following is a good guide:


Courtesy Shuttle Driver — $1-$2 per person, or $4-$5 per party

Taxi or Limousine Driver — 15-20% of the total fare

Limousines from Arizona Sedan & Limo Service are the best choice for your big life event.

Checking In

Porter/Doorman — $1-$2 per bag they help you with (more if it is excessively heavy). Tipping is not required for just opening a door (a smile and thank you is always appreciated).

Bell Staff — $1-$2 per bag if they bring the bags to your room. If they prepare your room and show you around, tipping $5-$10 should cover everything (including the bags).

In Your Room

Room Service — In most hotels, a gratuity of 12-15% is already included in the price of your order (check the menu). Tipping extra is OK, particularly if the person delivering the order takes extra care to set up your meal. Room service tips are generally “pooled,” or shared between everyone. If you hand something extra to a person who provides you extraordinary service, he or she can keep it.

Maids/Housekeeping Staff — A wide range is acceptable here, depending on the level of extra service and hotel level, but generally from $1-$5 per night. It is best to do your tipping daily, since you might have different people cleaning your room. Whatever you decide to leave, be sure to put the money in a sealed envelope, clearly marked, so there is no confusion as to whom it belongs to.

Maintenance/Service People — For fixing something that was broken, or bringing something that was missing, tipping is not required.

Delivery of Special Items — For a special request (like an extra blanket), $2 for one item, or $1 each for more than one item.

Coming and Going

Doorman — $1-$2 for calling a cab; extra if he covers your client with an umbrella in the rain, or has to actually hail a cab (rather than just signalling one from a cab line). If you wish, tipping a few bucks at the end of your stay (rather than each time) is fine.

Valet Parking — $1-$2 to the attendant retrieving your car. Tipping when they park the car is optional.

Dining Out

Wait Staff — 15-20% of the bill, excluding tax and expensive wine. Many restaurants automatically add a 15% gratuity for parties of six or more, so check the menu. You can add another 5% for exceptional service.

Wine Steward/Sommelier — If they help your client choose a bottle of wine (or choose it for him or her), 10-20% of the wine bill only. Use discretion based on how much service was provided (did he allow your client to taste before selected?) If the wine is very expensive, it’s generally acceptable to cap your tip at a reasonable amount (say, about $20), since you are tipping on the service received. Leave cash or specify on the credit card receipt which portion is for the sommelier.


Special Services

Concierge — Tipping varies with the level of service provided. For simple requests like directions or restaurant recommendations, no tipping is required. If the concierge arranges show tickets or restaurant reservations, tip $2-$5. If he goes above and beyond (a table at the hottest restaurant in town), tip $10-$20.

Hotel Staff — If they set up something above and beyond a tip at the end of your stay is acceptable.  Additionally if you are working with a recognizable (and liked) VIP an autograph in the guest book or a signed photo to the establishment is highly valued.

Additional Websites for reference:

Susanne Dancer is a former butler and administrator who has trained with the Guild of Professional English Butlers.  Her work in Etiquette has taken her from Brisbane to London with an emphasis on International Protocol.  She is regularly consulted as an expert in her field on subjects such as how to dress appropriately while working with High Net Worth individuals, and the delicate subject of table manners.

Have an etiquette question for Susan?  Ask it HERE.


Susanne Dancer

Referral Season

Like most corporations, ICON goes after new business in a variety of ways, however during our 12 years of existence, our biggest impact has always come from word of mouth.  A dedicated program that compensates for referrals is our way of saying thank you for continuing to mention our product & services.  Simply put, send a lead that turns into solid business and we will issue a predetermined commission on the referral. 

 And while everyone might not have the inside scoop on the next American Idol, keep in mind that a variety of people and businesses use our agencies services for:

 Sounds like a win all the way across the board!

 For more information on the referral program, click HERE.

Celebrity Bodyguard Training Update

ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Training
ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Training

Just wanted to put up a quick posting and let all interested parties know that the last ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Training Course of the season is at 80 percent capacity.  If your interested in attending the training held in Minneapolis, MN from August 26-30, 2009 , please reach out soon to RSVP your slot. 

For more information click HERE.

Tour Security: How To Survive In 10 Easy Steps



  1. Learn the value of a durable suitcase and a portable steamer.If you are on the road for any duration of time, the case is going to take a beating and what’s packed in it usually will never be “ready to wear”.Of course if your lucky, the nicer hotels may do your ironing for you at no charge.
  2. Remember: Reporters are not your friends (most times). Say something and you might be (mis)quoted, so its best to point them to a publicist or someone else in the camp.  With that said, the worst person to be rude to is the media. You might not even get mentioned by name, but it could cast your client (and therefore potential future earnings) in a bad light.
  3. For over the road travel try and purchase polo shirts in bulk.  While some guys do the “white Tee” look, I lean more towards the black polo tops.You can pretty much find them at Foot Lockers everywhere. Inexpensive, quick to throw on (and fits well over a bulletproof vest if necessary).
  4. Be careful what you eat, especially in a foreign country.  Running back and fourth to an airplane lavatory is not fun. And let’s not even discuss tour bus facilities.
  5. Always pack your own luggage!TSA security does not care who you work for. Also, for those of us who carry firearms, we also know the additional hassle of trying to check one in prior to boarding, so give yourself extra time.
  6. 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.
  7. Learn to tip (even if it’s with your own money).  It’s going to make your job smoother with the public. Be it a restaurant host, a hotel bellman or a club bouncer you need to pull in for some additional backup, tipping will make the process of having your VIP truly treated like one go a lot easier.
  8. Avoid Groupies.  ‘Nuff said.
  9. 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 when something happens.
  10. This is the most important one:Remember why you are there.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 your 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, was too distracted to notice. Learn more about tour specifics.