Icon – Behind the Bodyguard Business holds a spotlight where we feature someone in the Executive Protection, Security or Investigation industry. Our hope is to provide some insight into our profession and also show newcomers & the media that people from all walks of life and all parts of the globe do this type of work with honor and pride. No it’s not like the movies, but it can be rewarding, thrilling, and yes, sometimes fun.
Agent Name: Mark “Six” James
Company Name: Panther Protection Services
Home city: Atlanta
What made you decide you wanted to get into the Protection industry?
As a former corporate executive I use to fly around the world and when I travelled abroad, I had people assigned to protect me. I got to see what good protection and bad protection looked like. Most of it was just plain bad or a good operator assigned to the wrong detail. I actually got started in the protection business teaching legislators, judicial members and business executives how to shoot for personal protection. Many of the legislators during campaign season would ask me to travel with them as my firearms skills made them feel safe when they were out on the campaign trail.
I learned early in my professional career that most long-term careers are built on personal strengths used by people who enjoy what they do. I have always enjoyed firearms, martial arts and helping people. So Executive Protection seemed like a good fit. When I was in corporate America, I always enjoyed building high performing teams, and owning a protection agency gave me the ability to do the things I enjoyed while still continuing to help others.
What are some of the differences between working as an Operator and a trainer? Do you prefer one over the other?
That is a hard one to answer. As a trainer you have greater impact as a whole as you help others continue to build their skills, and serve others. As a trainer you are a force multiplier. When I am working as an Operator, I can only help one client at a time. As a trainer your skills scale. However there is nothing more personally rewarding than when a client tells you, that you make them and their family feel safe when you are around. No matter how much I train, I will always continue to work directly with clients, as it helps me keep my training contemporary by staying in the profession as opposed to being around the profession. Both are hard work and whether they are a firearms student or Executive Protection client, they are both clients and you work to serve them, and if you don’t do a good job, you don’t have repeat customers.
Can you share a bit of one of your best experiences in the industry so far?
The first day, I started working with a client who was a professional athlete I was interviewing him and going over our safety briefing in his hotel room. Before we got ready to go to our big event, I gave him a distress word, a distress sign, and showed him if things go bad and we were involved in a deadly force situation, how myself or a member of my team would move him out of the harm’s way. He said, no one had ever done a safety briefing with him in the past or had every talked about distress words or signs. Before we got ready to go down stairs, I took off my coat and got miked up. He said “I didn’t even know you had a gun on.” I told him that is why they call it “concealed carry”. He laughed and said, “I got the damn secret service working for me!” We have worked together for three years now and counting.
To someone coming up after you in the industry, what advice would you give?
Remember we are in the service business, it is not about you, it is about your client. The moment you forget it, your client will remind you. Take time out to invest in building you. Stay hungry, keep training and work on building all of your skills, (advanced work, tactical medicine, firearms, martial arts, study up on the laws in the states you work in, evasive driving etc.). Remember Executive Protection is a profession, not a hobby; you should be doing something in your profession every day. Professional athletes train 5 – 6 times per week, Doctors practice medicine every day, attorney’s either research the law or litigate every day, take that same commitment to your development. Build your skills and the money will come.
Personal Protection Specialist Mark “Six” James can be reached at (404) 349-9117 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org