Thursday, May 31, 2012

C.Q.C. Basics : Primal S.O.B. Tactics

(This post by Wayne Roy - C.Q.C. and I.P. Consultant)

No it's not 'Son Of a Bitch' Tactics... but some people are going to think that about you when you use these close quater combat tactics. 

S.O.B. actually stands for : Sight ; Oxygen ; and Blood.  The acronym refers to the tactic of disrupting an opponent's attack by applying pressure to one or more of their body's vital functions :
  • their sight 
  • the flow of oxygen to their brain 
  • and the flow of blood to their brain.

You can be fighting in any position (standing, sitting, or on the ground) - it doesn't matter - the moment you attack these vital functions it will trigger a psychological response in your opponent.  They will stop hitting you, and their hands will immediately go to your hands. 

It's a natural hard-wired response!  And because you know this is going to happen, you're ready to quickly release your pressure and launch a counter-offensive that will create an opportunity for you to escape :
  • elbow strikes
  • hand strikes
  • knee strikes
  • or kicks.

It really is that simple.  And I'm not referring to blinding them, or ripping their throat out. You don't actually need much force to trigger a 'survival' response that will stop them from trying to hit you.  For just a few seconds press as hard as you can against either :
  • their eyes (sight)
  • or their larynx (oxygen flow)
  • or one or both carotid arteries (blood flow).

It's a bit like pressing hard on a button.  You press against your attacker's eyes, or you press on the flow of oxygen or blood to their brain.  And to survive they have to stop attacking you and deal with the attack on their vital functions.

It may seem like 'dirty tactics' to some people, but to me it's just a simple and effective psychological advantage.  

My thanks to Mark 'Six' James of Panther Protection Services for the photos :

The Missing "F" Word.....

(This post by Hans van Beuge)

Fight or Flight. We have all heard that mantra before.  It’s a quick and catchy alliteration used to describe the autonomic nervous systems response to sudden danger.

Dr. Walter Canon, an American Professor of Physiology, coined the phrase back in 1929 to describe what happens when mammals are faced with sudden threats.

The only problem with Dr. Canon’s theory was that he left out another “F- word” in the autonomic response to fright. FREEZE.

Anyone who has experienced/studied/observed violence intuitively knows that we must include Flight, Freeze or Fight as being an additional reaction or part of the continuum, when sudden danger presents.

In a 2004 Issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, 5 eminent Psychiatrists petitioned their peers to change the Fight or Flight mantra to “Freeze, Flight, Fight and Fright” believing this better characterizes the ordered sequence of responses that mammals exhibit as a threat approaches or escalates.

A Close Quarter Protection training doctrine can probably function with just the first three ‘F’s being Freeze, Flight or Fight.  The fourth ‘F’ of fright being more relevant to the psychiatric profession dealing with posttraumatic stress syndromes.

Any training regime for Protectors that doesn’t address the potential for these autonomic responses to kick in is inadequate. They can cause a massive under-reaction, over-reaction or non–reaction in the moment of crisis.

During the Kennedy assassination in 1963, only one of the PSD Agents reacted to the gunshots.  The driver of the Presidential limo actually froze, and braked at the sounds of the shots causing the shooter to get a near stationary target for the last fatal head shot.

Survival Psychologists say that up to 80% of people freeze or under-react when presented with violence.  They just become stunned and bewildered.

The term used is “Incredulity Response”.  It’s why very few people become involved in helping out victims in incidences of street violence.

The US Secret Service, through proper training and conditioning, addressed these issues, and by the time of President Reagans near assassination in 1980 the PSD responded appropriately with incendiary speed. 

A case of “Flight” over-riding an appropriate response could be seen in the recent evacuation of the Australian Prime Minister, from a venue, where a handful of protesters had assembled outside.

Her protection team over-reacted and fled the building, nearly injuring the PM in the process and causing major embarrassment.

It is clearly plain to see the level of panic and stress visible on the officer’s faces though no threat is present.

It is evident that any training doctrine must include addressing the element of “freezing” when facing a critical incident.

Solutions could include : Hyper-realism training that conditions effective sudden "fight" responses from ambush and surprise ; training in orderly evacuations ; fear inoculation training ; and developing an understanding of Fear Management concepts.      


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Image Projection v's Image Rejection

(This post by Hans van Beuge)

The recently disgraced and dismissed Secret Service Agents, who were part of the advance security for President Obama’s trip to Columbia, illustrate that even those at the apex of our profession are vulnerable to bad judgments and inappropriate behavior. 

Cohorting off duty with Columbian prostitutes was obviously a very poor choice but what surprised me more, was that the major offender had left a lengthy cyber trail of his unprofessional and inappropriate behavior.

This included posting photos of himself working with his Protectee as well as making sexist comments about the Protectee and other women on social networking sites.  

Projecting and maintaining a professional on-line reputation and image is essential to obtaining and maintaining working relationships within the Protection Industry.

Today, almost everything you do online is easy to track, especially when your're using social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, ASmallWorld, Viadeo, Xing, etc.

The good, the bad and the ugly ... anything that you have posted or has been posted about you on the Web will come up in an online search or with a little google-fu.

It now only takes a potential employer a few seconds to get a comprehensive and candid view of your professional and private life.

It's estimated that social media sites are checked by up to 63% of recruiters and 78% use search engines to find out more about potential employees.

What does your cyber image say about you? What sort of image would a potential client get from looking at your photos and comments posted online?

Do they project professionalism or do they convey an image of a narcissistic, attention seeking, self-serving fantasizer?  Once something has been posted online the reality is that it will probably stay there forevevever.

What would a potential client think if they did a search for your name whilst conducting due diligence and found that you had posted photo's of yourself with previous clients?  Or had divulged information about previous clients or had pretented to work with clients that you blatantly never had?

I frequently advise Agents that they should strive to become the sort of Agent they would hire them-selves if they were after the services of a Protection Specialist.

The same is true of your online image.  Make it project the type of Agent a Client would want to employ or interact with.

If you wish to become a Professional Protector than keep your online presence professional.

Keep in mind the famous quote, "Small minds discuss people (and I'll add, THEMSELVES), Average minds discuss events and Great minds discuss ideas".

Avoid posting banal, personal or opinionated comments. Make sure your photos enhance your image, not diminish it.

This is important not only from a PERSEC perspective but also from a marketing stategy.  Having a degree of mystery about you can be more effective than exposing every detail of your personal life.

Tony Scotti once said on facebook that he was not interested in hearing what you had for breakfast!  Amen to that!

"A man may cut his own throat with his tongue", I've frequently seen instances of that on social media sites. 

It should very much be a case of 'Less is more'.

Balancing the need to promote your services, the business aspect, with the high degree of confidentiality and discretion needed in this job will always be a contentious issue.

Although some of the most successful Protection Agents I know fly completely under the radar, I'd advise those attempting to enter the industry to be digitally existant. Employers do like to check you out and having a cyber social presence will assist you in networking with fellow professionals world-wide.

Do a google search for those in the profession that are held in the highest regard and are the most sucessful.  Emulate how they project their online image and behavior.

Without fail they all project the image of understated, dignified professionals.

It is also completely inadvisable to put a picture of yourself in a hot tub, on your website, unless you are a pornographer or plumbing supply wholesaler!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

C.Q.C. Basics : Tactical Distance

(This post by Wayne Roy - C.Q.C. and I.P. Consultant)

Regardless of whether you're fighting unarmed, with a weapon, or unarmed against a weapon... the safest platform to defend and attack from is called 'tactical distance'.

What is tactical distance?  It's the distance that's just beyond the range of your partner's fastest attacks... which are the probes.

A probe is fast because it's your opponent's closest weapon.  On the street it might be a sudden push with one hand.  In boxing it would be a left jab or a hook.  In kickboxing it could be a quick skip-kick with the lead foot.

The basic purpose of a probe is to disrupt your opponent's balance (physically or mentally), and quickly follow-up with a power strike from the rear hand or rear leg. 

In boxing this might be a straight right-cross or a hook (see photo below).  And in kickboxing it could be a thrust-kick with the rear leg. 

Punches or kicks from the side furthest away are more powerful simply because they travel further... and therefore develop greater momentum.  But because they travel further, they can more easily be seen by your opponent... which is why they are usually preceded by a fast probe.

But let's get back to tactical distance.....

Standing just beyond the range of your opponent's probes makes those strikes relatively easy to evade or deflect.  And once deflected, you are in a position to quickly burst forward with your counter attack. 

If your opponent decides to move forward with a power strike (because probes don't reach) then they have to step forward to reach you... which means their attack can more easily be seen and dealt with. 

But here's the important point... tactical distance is just beyond the range of your opponent's probes... not safely out of range. 

If you were safely out of range (standing further away), it would certainly be difficult for your opponent to strike you.  But it would also be difficult for you to counter attack, because your opponent would see your strike coming.

So standing just out of range gives you the ability to evade or deflect, then quickly burst forward with your counter attack. 

It's all a matter of distance and timing... a tactic that many great boxers have mastered... and great martial artists like the legendary Bruce Lee.

Tactical distance - it's the safest platform to defend and attack from!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

C.Q.C. Basics : The Strategy of Attack

(This post by Wayne Roy - C.Q.C. and I.P. Consultant)
If fighting 'defensively' was the only strategy you applied in combat, then you would be giving control of the confrontation over to your opponent.  Why?  Because they would get to decide when the action started, and what form it would take.

From a Japanese perspective, a more complete strategy is to fight using a fluid mixture of evasion, defence and attack.  And it's that last tactic that I would like to address.

In Japanese sword combat there are three basic attack tactics :
  • Sen Sen no Sen - attack the opponent as they approach
  • Sen no Sen - attack the opponent as they move to attack
  • Go no Sen - attack the opponent just after they attack.

In Japanese, the term 'Sen' means taking the initiative. The term 'Go' means after.  Therefore a more precise translation of these tactics would be as follows :
  • Sen Sen no Sen -  take the initiative before the opponent attacks you 
  • Sen no Sen - take the initiative as the opponent attacks you 
  • Go no Sen - take the initiative after the opponent attacks you.

For westerners, the terms Approach, Interception and Completion are much easier to remember, and more effectively explain the 'moments in time' that the Japanese tactics refer to :
  • Approach - take the initiative and attack first 
  • Interception - attack as they step forward to strike you 
  • Completion - evade, and attack immediately after their attack.

The Running Attack :  The running attack is something you've seen in many samurai movies, but probably not fully understood.

Firstly, it is important to run in short balanced steps that enable you to suddenly change direction, or cut in any direction. 

The concept of running towards your opponent is to psychologically take control of the confrontation... and in response your opponent must react in one of three ways :
  • freeze in fright, and be cut down
  • attack out of panic, and be cut down as you suddenly evade and counter
  • attack out of aggression, and be cut down as you suddenly evade and counter. 

In all of these situations, you are controlling the confrontation by forcing the issue.  It's a matter of being in the midst of chaos, but retaining a balanced state of mind and body.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

C.Q.C. Basics : Tactical Posturing

(by Wayne Roy - C.Q.C. Consultant)
The important point to understand about adopting a posture in a confrontation is this : 
  • any recognisable fighting stance is usually perceived as being an aggressive act
  • so if you adopt a fighting stance, then your opponent will too (in self defence)
  • and once two individuals shape-up in a fighting stance, they usually start fighting.

In short, adopting a recognisable stance can escalate the level of violence, unnecessarily !!!

Next point - it can be said that in combat there are 3 basic types of postures :
  • defensive - those with a defensive barrier, and the weight on the back foot 
  • offensive - those oriented to attacking, with the weight on the front foot
  • receiving - those with an intentional opening, and the weight on either foot.

In Executive Protection the most appropriate posture to use is called a non-posture... which is simply a naturalised expression of the 3 basic types listed above.

In other words, a defensive non-posture would still involve extending your hands forward to create a barrier, but it will look natural and non-threatening

The Japanese call this tactic 'Kamae Nashi' - which means 'posture of no posture'.  They describe it as being an attitude (a body position) that disguises your real tactical intent.

To give you some examples of what this means, following are three classical Japanese postures, followed by non-posture expressions. 

The photo below is of a classical defensive posture called Ichimonji.  The lead hand is extended forward to create a barrier, and the rear fist is concealed back near the elbow.

The photo below is a non-posture expression of Ichimonji, and has the same basic defensive-barrier characteristic. The hands are still extended forward, but they are presented in a more subtle and natural way.

The photo below is of a classical receiving posture called Hoko, which means Bear. The arms are raised (like a standing bear) to lure-and-intercept an attack to the face or body.

The photo below is a non-posture expression of Hoko, and it has the same open characteristic.  The hands are positioned at shoulder-height to give the impression that you're 'open to reason'... but what you're actually doing is psychologically inviting any attack to come through the middle, so that you can intercept it.

The photo below is of a classical defensive posture called Doko, however it has an obvious counter-strike characteristic in the form of a raised thumb-thrust fist.

The photo below is a non-posture expression of Doko, however the rear hand is now pointing out to the side to psychologically engage any opponent standing on your flank. 

This allows you to verbally engage one opponent while discouraging a surprise attack from your blind side.  You won't really need to even look at the opponent on your flank... just a pointed finger will let them know that you're aware that he's there.

Keep in mind that with the prevalence of CCTV cameras these days, it's important not to come across as being an aggressive highly-trained fighter. 

The non-postures above (or your own expression of the concept) will create a low-key professional image, and still provide you with the tactical features necessary to protect yourself and your client.

Monday, May 14, 2012

History Repeats Itself *(hands ready position)

(This post by Wayne Roy - C.C.Q. and I.P. Consultant)

I have studied various martial arts since I was 16, and I've spent the last 30 years teaching. In one of the Japanese traditions that I studied there is a posture with the unusual name of 'Kongo Gassho no Kamae'.

It's commonly described as being a standing prayer position... however the feeling of adopting this posture is not one of praying - but of preparation.  The eyes are open, and the mind and body are in a balanced state, ready to act.

This is very important mind-set training in the classical martial arts... however it's often overlooked because it's perceived as being part of the unnecessary ceremony that's performed before-and-after a combat scenario. 

But what it does is strengthen a practitioner's 'no-mind' state.  The term translates as meaning : no thought, no emotion.  

This mind-set is the very foundation of a martial artist's ability to respond effectively in a confrontation, because it stops you from experiencing emotional extremes. 

Why is that important?  Because emotional extremes distort your sense of reality, and consequently your ability to respond.  Two examples of this from our own western culture are the sayings : frozen with fear ; and blind with rage

So without this mind-set preparation (this no-mind state), you run the risk of letting your emotions get the best of you... and any anxiety, fear, anger or aggression will distort your ability to recognise a threat, and effectively respond to it.  

Today, C.Q.P operators and Secret Service Agents do the same thing... positioning their hands and preparing their mind to spontaneously and effectively respond to an attack... most probably without realising that the same practice was also used in ancient Japan.

For more insight into the 'hands ready' position, click on the link below :

My special thanks to Stephen Needham Photography in Brisbane, Australia.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Adrenaline - What you Need to be Aware of !

(This post by K.C. - ex-Army VIP Protection)

It's important for anyone working in Executive Protection to understand the physical and psychological effects of adrenaline on you, and on your client :
  • firstly, a surge of adrenaline will make you (and your client) faster, stronger, and feel less pain
  • however your vision (and your client's vision) can become tunnelled in a forward direction - often causing threats from the side to disappear from your field of vision
  • your hearing (and your client's) can also become tunnelled - sometimes preventing you from hearing attacks or warnings that come from the side.

All this is a survival response - something that's hard-wired into the human brain.

The after-effects of an adrenaline surge are also something you should be aware of.  After an incident, it may even be necessary to explain this to a client who experiences either of these physical responses :
  • Firstly, there can be a sleep-inducing effect from the adrenaline wash-out and endorphin rush, which triggers a cut-out switch in the brain.  This sudden fainting episode is simply caused by a drop in blood pressure and heart-rate, and should not be confused with a fear response.
  • Secondly, an unexpected release of strong emotion (anger) that was suppressed during the adrenaline surge.  Most often this erupts in the form of crying - which shocks and embarrasses people when they don't know to expect it.

Here's a personal story of how adrenaline can affect you in a confrontation.  In the Army I had fought for my life in a jungle fire-fight, but this was different... it was close-quarters hand-to-hand combat :

I was in Vietnam and travelling through a semi-rural area on a mini-van bus.  These buses are pretty bad to be honest, and the driver didn't want to drive all the way into town just to drop me off... because all the other passengers were headed in another direction.  So he dropped me off on the side of the road and left.

As I got out of the bus I had a gut feeling that something wasn't quite right, and as I started to look for a taxi-bike to flag down, two guys came out from the long weeds growing on the side of the road.

Sensing a confrontation, I calmly removed my backpack and put it down... all the while trying to seem like the friendly dumb tourist.  

Then one of them suddenly pulled a knife and started yelling "Money, money!!!" 

I created distance, adopted a side-on defensive stance and said "Ok, ok, wait a second...."  

He slackened a little and looked across at his buddy... and as he looked away I made my decision to draw my Spyderco folder, which I always have clipped on my jeans pocket.

His head snapped back.  Suddenly I had gone from a friendly dumb tourist to a determined aggressor.  I shaped-up to him in a combat-ready stance, my left hand across in front of my throat, and my knife held low and just outside his field of vision.

Now I don't recommend that anyone do what I did.  But for me it was as if a switch was flicked in the back of my head.  As far as I was concerned, I was miles from anywhere safe, and I couldn't afford to be stranded with no money, or worse.  I was also aware that a girl had recently been murdered in a road-side mugging after she got off a bus.

What exactly happened is still a little blurry, because it was all an instinctive survival response.  From what I can remember he stepped forward and threatened me with his blade.  I quickly trapped his knife-arm, smashed him in the face with the butt of my knife, threw him down hard onto the bitumen, and quickly stomped him to take the fight right out of him.  The other guy was obviously shocked, and immediately took off!

The knife fight was all over in a matter of seconds... and I was left standing on the side of the road, shaking with the effects of the adrenaline surge

I took a few deep breaths to pull myself together, picked up my backpack, and started walking quickly down the road.  Eventually I managed to flag down a taxi-bike, and got the driver to take me all the way into town. 

Once I was home I had a shower, and to be quite honest, I cried a bit.  It was crazy, but the emotion just poured out of me.

After I had that release, things suddenly became quite calm.  But then all the "what-if's" started coming out : what if this had happened? ; what if he had done that ; what if I had been stabbed? ; what if I had killed him?

Looking back now, what saved me was reality-based training and the mental discipline to control emotional extremes such as fear and anger.  I had reacted with just the right amount of force to ensure my survival. 

Also, I understood the effects that adrenaline would have on my body and my mind.... so I was prepared to cope with the psychological aftermath.

Summary of points about the nature of adrenaline :
  1. it will make you (or your client) faster, stronger, and feel less pain
  2. however vision can become tunnelled
  3. and hearing can also become tunnelled
  4. there can be a fainting episode after an adrenaline surge
  5. or even an outburst of strong emotion (crying).

For another interesting story about the aftermath of adrenaline, click on the link below :

Friday, May 4, 2012

So You Want to be a Bodyguard *(part 1 of 3)

(This series of postings courtesy of K. Fitzgibbons)

PROTECTIVE SERVICES 'SPECIFIC' TRAINING :  Firstly be advised that just because you're a current or former : SEAL ; DELTA ; LEO ; Black Belt/Ninja ; Trained Shooter ; or Sniper... it does not mean you are qualified to do THIS job.

Keep the following in mind:
  • just because you can storm a beach doesn't make you an expert in protective services
  • just because you can kill a terrorist doesn't mean can prevent your client from being killed
  • just because you can Protect & Serve a community doesn't mean you know how protect a single client
  • just because you can protect yourself doesn't mean you can protect someone else
  • and just because you can shoot someone doesn't mean you can prevent someone from shooting your client.

 The only thing that makes you qualified to do this job is Protective Services “Specific” training, and practical work experience in this field.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the best operators in this field are from the above mentioned groups... but not because they are SEALS, DELTA, LEO's, MA's etc... but because they are SEALS, DELTA, LEO's, MA's, with Protective Services "Specific" training and experience.

With that said, the #1 requirement in the field of Executive Protection is training.  You have to know how to do the job to be successful at it.

Continual training is the key - for your personal education and building your network.  Any training is a plus, and the more you have the better off you will be.

There are so many ex-LEO’s, ex-Military and ex-Government Agents who get into Executive Protection, that it is necessary for their private sector counter-parts to have at least similar (if not superior) training to compete.

It is important to mention here that the more training you have, the more likely you will be able to work into better positions.  It is up to you to show initiative and start the process.

While some will, most companies are not going to train you to do this job.  Why should they, there are so many people with relevant training who are willing to do the job.  You must level the playing field.  You must seek out quality training and often.

While we are on the subject of training. There are three types of private sector training in the Protective Services field: Big-name ; Lesser-name ; and Bad.  Plain and simple.

You have the Big Schools”, who’s names are well known and respected in the industry.  If you have no practical work experience or training, then you should probably go through one of these to get the needed credibility on your resume and to begin your network.

Then you have the "Lesser-names", who don’t have the same name brand recognition as the “Big Names”, but they offer a comparable (some times better) training experience for the money.  If you are looking to keep your skills fresh, need to network, or don’t have the wherewithal or desire to spend money on the “Big schools”, then this may be the way to go.

Then, sadly, we have the Bad”.  The reality is that we have far more “Bad” training than anything else in this business.  And for someone who doesn’t know any better it’s very difficult to tell who the players are with out a playbook.

My recommendation is get references from prospective schools and training institutes... for example, who have they trained, and what are their numbers.

Get references from those in the industry... get their feedback.  Do your homework or you will get burned.

If you are serious you will want to get at least one of the big EP schools under your belt, one of the big Driving schools under your belt, and supplement them with as many of smaller” quality” schools as you can muster.

Keep in mind that training should never stop, and you should dedicate yourself to this concept early on.  This will build your resume, keep your skills fresh and develop your network.

Keep in mind that there are thousands of prospective Protection Agents who go through various training programs around the world every year.  Yet only a handful of these people will be successful in making the transition into this field.

Why is that? Because they’re simply aren’t enough jobs out there to meet the demand.

Also, because most training programs don’t want to ruin the illusion of “The Bodyguard” mythology.  To tell you that you may not make it in this business is counter-productive to their financial “bottom line”.

For more frank and honest insight see the next posting in this series : IMAGE PROJECTION.

So You Want to be a Bodyguard *(part 2 of 3)

(This series of postings courtesy of K. Fitzgibbons)
IMAGE PROJECTION :  If you are currently an LEO and you are serious about transitioning into the private sector, while you are with the department get as much Executive Protection training or practical work experience as you can get while you're still in.

The USSS runs sponsored training for certain LEO's and Departments. Does your states Governors detail run sponsored training?  Many do.  The DOJ runs 'Dignitary Protection' courses in many states, and even if they don’t offer one in your state, sign up for one in another, and go there to get the 'Official' training on your resume.

With that said, I would also still recommend seeking out as many 'Private Sector' schools as your availability and budget will allow. 

I always recommend to people who are interested in the business (but have no training or experience) to read a quality book on the subject.  At least this way you didn’t just spend $3,000.00+ dollars finding out that it's more than kicking arse and taking names".

By no means can a book replace training, but it can provide a degree of education before you make the leap on to an expensive career path.

The second requirement is experience.  But if you don’t have it how are you supposed to get it?  Ahh that’s the age-old question isn’t it?

The bottom line is, if you haven’t done this work in an “official” capacity (i.e., LEO, Military, Government, etc), then you're going to have to get someone to give you a shot, and the only way to do that is with the proper training and networking.

If I have a position on a Protection Detail and I have two candidates in front of me, one is a civilian with no relevant training or experience and the other is an LEO who spent time on the local Mayor’s Detail and has attended the Secret Service’s protection training module, who am I going to pick?  Easy, the LEO.

Now wait, what if I have a civilian who has invested in himself, received quality training and has worked in the field vs. a Leo who spent his career on patrol and has no relevant experience or training?  Again easy, I go with the civilian.

I want and need 'protection' experience, and if you don’t have it you need to at least show me you’re training.  If your former Military or LEO and you have no relevant training or experience, you need to realize that your competing with guys who do, and until you get some of each, you're less marketable then your competitors.

If you’re a civilian, the toughest part will be getting your shot, but don’t expect one if you haven’t invested in yourself.

The next requirement is 'appearance'.  Many qualified agents will not get the calls or the jobs, because they don't look the part.  You must spend money on your presentation.  Your watch, your shoes, the cut of your suit, it all means something in this business.

I once interviewed with a former Secret Service Agent who ran a very successful Protection Agency.  He would not hire anyone that wore a cheap watch or didn’t shine their shoes before the interview.

His thought process was one of looking at agents as his clients would - first impressions count.  And if you didn’t care enough to shine your shoes, or if you weren’t successful enough to buy a nice watch, then you weren’t worth his time.

Say what you want, but this is more the norm than the reverse.  He was just honest enough to come out and say it.

Fortunately for me, these were lessons that I learned long ago, and we made each other a great deal of money

Much of what we do is based on first impressions and presentation.  You may be "Kevin Costner" incarnate from “The Bodyguard", but if you don’t look the part you wont get the respect or the shot to prove yourself. 

If you look professional, you’ll be viewed as professional, and that’s half the battle. Perception is key and your ability to do the job will be determined within the first two minutes of companies and clients looking at you.

Here’s another pointer, criminals need not apply!  If you have a criminal history you will not go far in this business.  Regrettably, there are companies in this business that do not do their due diligence or background checks, and undesirables can sometimes slip through the cracks.

Legitimate companies wont hire you if you have a criminal record, so don’t bother.

Other skills or requirements that MAY help you get a position, depending on the company and/or client, are :
  • Military training

  • LEO training

  • Emergency medical training

  • Defensive Tactics training

  • Computer literacy

  • Concealed weapon permits

  • Weapons training and familiarization

  • Licensing

  • Insurance

  • Investigative training

  • Languages

  • Other specialized skills such as skiing, scuba, pilot, etc.

For more insight, see the next posting in this series : NETWORKING.

So You Want to be a Bodyguard *(part 3 of 3)

(This series of postings courtesy of K. Fitzgibbons)

NETWORKING :  So far we have covered what you need to "do" the job, but how do you "get" the job.  Sadly, sometimes it's more about "who" you know than "what" you know.  Executive Protection jobs are not handed out in the local classifieds (most of the time). 

Protection Details are usually referred from one person to the next, detail-to-detail, etc.  If you don't know how (or who) to network with, your skills as a protector will not mean much, because no one will ever get to see them.

You must be aggressive, just handing out business cards is not enough. If you network in a small pond you will work in a small pond. 
The larger your circle of associates the larger your circle of influence will be... the bigger your job pool.

You have to network with people who do the work. You need to cultivate relationships and trust.

The attitude in the industry is very secretive and protective, not just in relation to clients, but in relation to "territory".  It's the "less work for me principal”... "if I help this guy then there’s less work for me."

They only way around this is developing relationships and providing quality services that make your contacts look good.  But you have to give not just take.  If you hear of a job that you can't do, refer it to someone you know.  You'd be amazed at how willing people are to help you, once you've helped them.

The most successful networking will happen during training and working.  The more you do of both, the bigger your network will be.  If you have worked with someone, and they like you, they will refer business to you before they refer business to someone they have met at a trade show.

While we're on the subject of networking lets talk about associations.

The benefit of 'associations' is the exchange of information and networking opportunities.  The idea being that the more people you know the more knowledge you have at your fingertips, the more resources you have available to you and yes the more referrals you can give and get.

The Director of Security for XYZ Corporation is not going to look at your resume and say "Yes, he's a member of the ABC, hire him right away" sight unseen.  But maybe this same Director is also a member of ABC and you met him at the national conference, you did a little quasi-bonding with him there, stayed in contact with him, and now they have an opening on the team.

See where I'm going here.  The key is to choose your associations and affiliations well.  You don’t want your name associated with an un-reputable group.

Also these groups can be expensive, so pick the ones that fit your expertise and AO.

Be advised though, until there is a true governing body for Protective Services - which I doubt there ever will be - the letters mean very little.  Other than certain state requirements: PPS, PSS, PSA, CPS, CPO, etc are just letters that follow your name.

Something that is not touched on often, but unfortunately is very important is location….. Location, Location, Location.

Straight up, you are not going to have as many opportunities in Indiana or Nebraska as you will in California, Florida, or New York.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of successful operators in all ports of call, but if you're in a none-metropolitan area you are in for a tough uphill battle.

Per capita you will have less EP clients to pull from. So you have a few choices:
  1. Try to get on with the biggest detail in your area (if there is one). 

  2. You can expand your service offerings.  If you offer Investigative services as well as protective services, or open up a “Uniformed” division you will be giving yourself additional income opportunities in your area when EP is slow.
  3. Find a company that is willing to fly you around the world for different jobs... it's possible, but less likely. 

  4. MOVE.
 Again it's your choice.

There are 3 reasons that this business is referral based : Ego ; the Wanna-be's ; and The Risk.

1.  This business is overrun with ego.  You can’t walk into an industry trade show or into a training session and not feel it.  Everybody is "sizing" up the competition, and everybody is an expert in everything.  People will hire people they know vs. hiring people they don’t know because the unknown threatens many in this business.  Sometimes it's for good reason, which leads us to number two.

2.  There are far to many "wanna-be's" in this business.  You cannot trust what you see on paper or what you are told about people’s backgrounds at face value.  Many of the individuals who claim to be experts in everything, have no practical training or experience in any of it.

So who do you trust? You really have to "vett" your resourses, and that takes time and effort.  Sometimes it's just cheaper and easier to utilize the people you know... because at least you know what your getting.  Which leads to point number three.

3.  The risk.  When I say "risk" I'm not talking about traditional "Condition White-Black" or whichever scale you use.  I'm talking about the risk of using an unproven commodity.  Because of our perceived role in the economic food chain, security is not always given the respect, credit or appreciation that it should.

Generally we are viewed as a "cost center" and not a "profit center"... meaning that most decision makers don’t see the money we save or the loss we prevent, only the money they spend.

Security can be viewed as a profit center, but that’s a whole different subject, in most cases we are not.

This is one of the only businesses where the better you do your job, the less valuable you seem.  Oh don’t get me wrong when "IT" hits the fan your everybody's "Daddy"... but when things are going well your expendable.

In most cases 'security' is always the first place someone will skimp or cut, or the last thing people will budget for.  Why?  Because in a perfect world, people wouldn’t need us.

So when someone is paying for security, usually they're doing so begrudgingly.

With this in mind, everything you do is analyzed; security is always under a microscope.  What this means is our positions are tenuous, anyone can lose their job for any reason, at any time, and when one bad agent can cost a whole detail their jobs, it's a big risk to take when hiring a "New Guy".

Keep this in mind when networking.  Much goes into the dynamics of this business - it is not black and white.  The good guys should get the work and the bad guys should fade away... but that’s not always the case, and all of the above is at least part of the cause.

Now, once you're working in the field as a Protection Specialist, you have two equally important areas requiring constant attention. 

The first is of course your skills as a protector. Your most important job is to keep your client safe and secure.  To do so you need to keep your skills sharp.  Protective services skills are perishable, and if you don’t keep them fresh they will spoil.

The second area of importance is your image, and the value-added contribution you can make to your employer.

This area is often overlooked. Remember your clients and bosses perceptions are the only ones that matter.  You may think you are doing a great job, but if you are the only one who thinks so, then the work calls will stop coming.

Keep in mind that the people you work with on assignments will be the “sounding board” for the supervisors of any given company.  When they want to know how you work, they will ask your co-workers.

Remember that egos are fragile in this industry, and people are territorial over work and the lack there of.

The general attitude is this : the better he looks the less work for me.  So if you give someone an excuse to talk bad about you they will.

Try not to ruffle feathers, this industry can be run by the Good Ol’ Boys Network, and you very well may end up working with people who may have no idea what they are doing.  They are strictly working that job because they ”know” somebody.

These types are usually the ones who know it all, and because you are the newbie, any disagreement will be taken personally.  So go slow in the beginning - don’t make waves - and only speak when spoken to.

So, there you have it.  What have we learned?  If you are serious about getting into the business, spend less time/money on CQB, shooting and secret ninja techniques, and spend more time/money on learning how to do the job first.