Often I get asked from people “how did you get started in the EP industry?” or “what does it take to do this job?”. So, I thought I would answer that question with posting the first chapter of a publication that I am in the progress of writing to assist new or aspiring EP Specialists.
These are only my opinions based off what I have seen and experienced, however I believe making the “Decision to Protect” should not be made lightly:
Chapter 1: The Decision To Protect
So, you want to be a bodyguard, executive protection specialist (EPS), personal protection specialist (PPS) or one of the many three letter identifiers that basically mean the same thing? Great!
It’s a rewarding job, not only financially, but personally as well. Before you make the decision to pursue this career, there are a few things to consider:
Why do you want to be a protector? Do you thrive in and seek out challenging experiences? Do you have prior law enforcement or military skills that could be an asset in the EP industry? The reason I ask is because there are RIGHT and WRONG reasons people get into this business, in my opinion.
If your sole purpose is to wear cool shades, a black suit, and sport an earpiece while carrying a firearm, perhaps you don’t have the correct idea of what it is we do.
Also, don’t think you’re going to start off making $600 a day. I can’t tell you how many times I have worked for FREE, just to gain exposure. A lot can be said for being paid with experience instead of money.
Bottom Line – Be honest with yourself, your TRUE desires, and your capabilities. Do not let your ego jeopardize the life of yourself or another person.
As with the military, law enforcement, or any agency that has immense responsibilities, values and character should be at the forefront of every agent’s actions. Without integrity, personal courage, selfless service, and knowing your duty, you will fail. You must show not only the client, but also those with whom you work, that you are capable, honest, and fair.
No Team Leader or Agent In Charge (AIC) wants to work with a liar or someone they don’t believe “has their back”. No client would hire you if he/she were worried that you are stealing from him or her while conducting estate security.
I’ll put it this way: Let’s just say you’re a junior EP agent and have been assigned to stand at an emergency exit that leads to a stairwell at a venue. You’re sole job is to ensure no one enters said exit. No, it’s not a sexy position.
You’re not the one escorting the client through rope lines or getting photographed by the paparazzi. Does that make your job any less important? Without a sense of duty and selfless service, you might think to yourself “No one’s going to come through this door anyway, I don’t need to pay attention”. You might even go as far as leaving your post, allowing security vulnerabilities exposed.
This may sound trivial and almost common sense. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t have common sense.
Do you like to gossip? Are you the first one to post what you’ve heard, seen, or experienced on Facebook?
If so, put a stop to it. You will learn VERY quickly in this business that clients expect complete confidentiality. They deserve it and are paying for it. Our job is not just protecting a client from physical harm but also from embarrassment and liability. If you struggle in this area, maybe a better job would be a tabloid journalist.
We’ll talk more on this subject later, as it is absolutely crucial in the EP industry.
Perception is everything in this business:
- You must ooze professionalism.
- You must be able to demonstrate capability and reliability.
- You must have mental and physical toughness.
No, you do not have to be 6’5” with biceps the size of a tree, however if a client looks at you and doubts whether you will be able to provide the desired level of security for him/her, you have a problem.
The ability to speak and write professionally and courteously is invaluable. Remember, you have the potential of working directly for corporate professionals, for example. These are people that most likely have advanced degrees, manage multi-million dollar companies, and have to communicate concisely.
You MUST be able to do the same.
If you are 40lbs overweight, speak as though you have a 3rd grade education and you’re clothes look like they were fragged by a wrinkle grenade, what do you think that says to the client about you? Our appearance and demeanor speaks volumes about us. Remember, we are not club bouncers – We are highly trained, attentive, and intelligent professionals. We must project confidence at all times.
Here’s another thing to keep in mind. Not everyone is going to like you! The EP industry is a customer service driven industry, and the client might have an idea of what he/she wants. Maybe they don’t want someone with a military haircut. Maybe they only want personnel on their detail that are over 6′ tall.
These things happen.
You can’t be everything to everyone, but what you can do is ALWAYS put your best foot forward. Always show your employer and the client what you have to offer in a professional and dignified way.
Have Realistic Expectations
If you think that you are going to complete initial training and immediately be working for A-list celebrities or Fortune 500 CEOs, think again. Be prepared to “pay your dues”. Yes, you will find yourself in unsexy jobs; maybe even start out in estate security until you gain experience and your reputation grows.
I’m not saying that it is impossible, depending on where you live and work, however very unlikely. Plus, like I said before, you must be honest with yourself. Do you REALLY think that after initial training you have what it takes to negotiate a hostile crowd, know how to identify pre attack indicators, or have perfected in/out drills in motorcade operations? Maybe you are that good, who knows?
Chances are, you are going to need to hone those “soft skills” and perfect what you have learned.
You might work for rich people, but chances are, you will not get rich doing this job. Yes, EP work can be lucrative under the right conditions. However, it can also be a “feast or famine” job in a very competitive market. There are a few celebrity bodyguards out there making six figures, however that is the exception, not the norm. If protectors get paid so much, why wouldn’t they have protectors themselves? Think about it.
If you aren’t good with managing your money, you might want to remedy that soon. You might get a great contract and make $5k in a month, only to go the next five months looking for work. That’s the reality, and you need to be prepared for it. This is definitely something you need to consider before jumping into this head on.
I’ll delve into this a little deeper later, but here’s the big takeaway: In this job you never stop training. Believing that you can qualify with your firearm once a year and be “good to go”, is a recipe for failure.
If you think you don’t need to practice drills and develop countermeasures with your team on a consistent basis, you’re wrong again.
Like I said before, we are HIGHLY trained professionals, and we have to stay that way to be prepared for anything. This is non-negotiable. Clients and employers are not stupid. They are going to know very quickly if you’re the real deal.
Getting your certifications, initial training and endorsements are just one step in the continuing journey of remaining relevant.
This simply has no place in the EP industry.
If you have an addiction of any kind, it has to go. Even simple things one might not think of. For example, if you’re concentrating on your next smoke break, are you really paying attention to the man in the crowd that could be pulling a knife out of his jacket?
If you’re hung over from a night of drinking, are you mentally capable of making split second decisions with life or death consequences? What if you need a cup of coffee (or six) before you’re “ready to face the day”?
If there is something in your life that you just “can’t live without”, you need to let it go before going head first into this. There are some protection companies that even test for alcohol and nicotine, for example.
Deciding to pursue a career in which your ultimate duty is to protect the wellbeing of another human being should not be rushed into. Look past your ego for just one second. Really think about what that entails and whether you truly have the mentality, maturity and ability to have that responsibility put on your shoulders.
Like I said before, not everyone is cut out for this business. There’s going to be a reoccurring theme in this book: be honest with yourself.
Trust me, if you aren’t honest with yourself, your actions, choices and mistakes will expose you.