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.