Several years ago I was listening to an audiobook on business that had this one piece of advice: the answer to every question you don’t ask is always no. To this date, I can’t remember the name of the book or the author, but that piece of advice sticks with me every day and I apply it in many ways. Here are some examples of how it may help you in Executive Protection operations, career success or for your own business endeavors.
Executive Protection Operations
If you’re conducting an advance, there are many requests you are likely going to need to make in order to best accomplish your job. It might be private backdoor access, enhanced security measures, private elevator service, reserved parking, or a myriad of other requests. When you are new to the industry or still developing a relationship with a contact, you may be hesitant to request certain things, however, there is one thing that is for certain; if you don’t ask for it you will almost definitely not receive it.
If you’re working with a client as the close contact bodyguard and have a security concern that can easily be mitigated by slightly altering your plans (arrival, departure, or proximity to the client, public appearance, etc.) you may be hesitant to advise the client of the situation and request a modification of operation. However, if you do not ask, you will definitely not be able to make your preferred adjustments. If you do ask, you might get exactly what you wanted and perhaps have just demonstrated some immense value regarding yourself, your position, or your team.
With both of these examples, it’s important to note that there is much more that goes into success in operations than simply making the request. You also must balance that with the other concern of asking too much and coming across as high needs, incapable or just being a nuisance. Experience, training, and a quick assessment of people will help overcome those types of challenges. However, remember as well, what you fail to ask for, you are more likely not to receive. Let me ask you this, what is in the best interests of your client? Is it better to be mildly uncomfortable or slightly inconvenience a site contact, than let something go unasked that may have an impact on your protection duties?
Corporate and Public Sector EP Career Success
This little concept is also very applicable to people working in the corporate or public sectors of Executive protection. Do you have a new training course you want to attend or perhaps an upcoming conference? If you do not request it, you are likely not going to get it (unless you book leave and pay for it yourself, but you still have to ask for the time off). What about implementing new initiatives within the organization? Every organization needs to continuously evolve to stay ahead of threats and keep up with changing times. If you have a great idea you want to get off the ground, the first step starts with asking for it, otherwise, the default answer is absolutely no – unless you in fact are the decision-maker, but in my experience, everyone reports to someone.
I will add that in all of these examples so far, it’s never a good idea to simply blindly ask. Gathering supportive information, facts and having multiple options is always going to help make your case. So the answer to every question you don’t ask is always no, but the more informed your “ask” is and the more you can articulate your reasons, the better your chances are at getting a yes. The last thing you want is the answer to every question you ask, to also always be no.
The Business of Protection
If you want to make a pitch to a potential client the first step is making a relationship and then getting a meeting. If you never put yourself out there, you are never going to get anywhere in business. So don’t be afraid of cold calls or requesting proposal meetings. Every meeting you don’t ask for is a meeting you never get. Every proposal you don’t ask for is a project that will never get off the ground.
Now don’t go out and start annoying people with all your project requests and business proposals. Yes, if you don’t ask you won’t get it, but if you put people off you might as well apply your time and efforts elsewhere. Reading a marketing book may be a better use of time. Start with developing relationships first, look for where you can add value, and then when you have all the information, a solid relationship, and a quality proposal, go ahead and make your request. If you take that approach you are more likely to get a yes than going other routes.
I am by no means perfect and have made a lot of mistakes in my life. That experience has caused me to force myself to improve wherever I can. You can’t do anything of value in isolation and more often than not, you need someone else’s help. Unfortunately, you cannot get that help unless you ask for it. It may sound simple, but I challenge you to reflect on your own experiences and see if you have missed an opportunity for further operational, career, or business success because you didn’t ask for what you needed.
Ask yourself if fear of rejection has ever got in the way of making the first move. Just make sure if you start increasing your requests, you do so with the right intent, at the right time, with the right information, and continuously assess to see if you need to modify your approach.
There is a lot of uncertainty in the world and there are only a few things that are for sure: death, taxes, and the answer to every question you don’t ask is always a no.