Category Archives: UK bodyguards

Executive Protection – Realities of the Industry and the Ugly Truth

I haven’t written in a long time, so I thought to say goodbye to this Year with an old topic. The real world of Executive Protection with all its truths and myths.

Many newcomers in the profession have a completely different idea of what the profession is, based on what they have heard or what Hollywood tells them it is. This lack of “truth” either leaves them disappointed or leaves them vulnerable to making mistakes while on duty.

It is common in our industry to see many of our colleagues posting pictures on the internet social media sites of “selfies” taken in first class airline seats or in the client’s private jet. More selfies show them with their feet up on a suitcase claiming ‘’another flight’’, or posting from 5 and 6 star hotel rooms or from the finer restaurants, or next to a limousine parked next to a jet.

The reality is that the majorities of these pictures are either staged or were taken while not actually working a security detail. I have seen colleagues, ask or even offer to pay  to stand next to a private jet. They put on their best 100 dollar suit, shiny 30 dollar Timex watch and 12 dollar dark sunglasses and “pose” next to someone else’s 10 million dollar jet. And I have seen aircraft tail numbers show up in these photos and for fun, ran the numbers, located the owners, and even tracked the flights.

The reality is anyone can pose anywhere and anytime and make it look like they are working. Anyone can ask a limo driver to take a picture of them next to that limo. When you are in such dire need to brag about your job to others that you put your client’s health and safety at risk, who in our industry would ever work with you or recommend you to others?

If I could only call out the people I know who were on vacations with their families and they post pictures pretending to be on a detail. I even know people who traveled to third world countries to meet their ‘’online’’ girlfriend or boyfriend and they posted pictures as working a detail in those countries.

The reality is, when you work for someone, it is rare to have a first class airline seat next to them on a 6 hour flight. Most clients, no matter how wealthy they are will book you an economy seat. Yes, there are a few clients who will book first class for their CPOs but to qualify to work for these clients you must already be well established in the industry and have a plethora of industry history and references.

The reality is that when you work with a well-trained team, you will work on rotations and schedules that allow for only two things: keeping the client safe and getting to bed to get enough sleep to be able to do it again tomorrow. Anyone who has the time to ‘’enjoy’’ taking pictures has probably too much time on their hands and maybe isn’t working at all.  And if you are working alone, you cannot spare the laps in attention to your client to focus on yourself.

I have been in rotations where after work I was so tired that I didn’t have the energy or interest to call my family. This is usually due to working long shifts alone which is a situation worth discussing in another article.

The reality is when your client travels, they may be working or on vacation but if you travel with them, you are always working. You will always get less sleep than your client. When they finally retire for the evening, you are up another few hours planning and preparing for the next day. When they wake, it might be because you are responsible for waking them, which means you are up a couple of hours before them.

While working, you have to focus on your client’s needs. Finding time to eat and go to the bathroom is not your client’s responsibility or even on their mind. If you want to eat, you have to find your own way to do it quickly. If you need to empty your bladder, you have to leave sight of your client and return quickly. If it is not safe to leave your client, then you choose to either hold it, or make other arrangement. This is hard enough as a male but as a female, it is nearly impossible to improvise. Again, a subject for future articles.

The reality is you will need to find time to eat, sleep, shower, go to the bathroom, write reports, call your family, pay your bills, clean your clothes, charge your equipment batteries, train, stretch, exercise, and accomplish other normal life tasks and all outside of the client’s view.

You will find yourself doing things you wouldn’t do in your personal life, because you have to adapt to your client’s activities. And you will need to be an expert in your client’s extracurricular activities to enable you to not just accompany them but to identify threats to their safety. Riding elephants or horses, scuba diving, skydiving, hunting, mountain biking… And if you know you are not qualified, learn when to partner with or hire your own replacement for the activity.

You will find yourself in presence of heated family conversations and you are asked to take a side.You know its unprofessional to choose a side and you have to find a diplomatic answer within seconds. You will see behaviors and listen to words that will challenge your own personal and professional ethics. And again you will adapt or fail.

You will find yourself in challenging environments too. (I developed asthma working in Mumbai), you may get food or water poisoning, malaria, and even get worms from food.

You will have to work with people who have no training or they have been trained differently than you. Some “professionals” in our industry are great with weapons or driving but have no concept of controlling body odor. They speak 4 languages but can’t drive a car, they can cook any meal out of any cookbook but can’t provide first-aid on an insect bite or gunshot wound.

The reality is that people who come from different cultures and have different perspectives regarding punctuality, performance of their duties, and the common traits of professionalism have no clue that every decision they make from their clothing, language skills, hygiene habits and skill are all measured by the clients who would hire them.

The reality is that true professionals will not let themselves be photographed by others and certainly would never photograph themselves while working. And they will not want to work with those who do.

Professionals will know the difference between ethics and etiquette and follow the rules of each. Doing anything to compromise your client’s business or personal privacy is not just a mistake, it is a catastrophic attack on my industry and my ability to earn a living in it. I will continue to counter these attacks with my articles.

Professionals will know how to dress for any occasion their clients may invite them into and know how to negotiate with the client to avoid unsafe activities and conditions.

Professionals will know how to do one-hundred things in the company of their client that will never be acknowledged or appreciated and a thousand things near their client that will never be seen or known.

The reality is if you seek recognition in this industry for the function you are being paid to perform, you are not a true professional and have no business in the Executive Protection Industry. You will be looked upon as a cancer to those of us who remain silent and invisible while in the company of our clients.

 

Denida Zinxhiria

Founder & CEO

Athena Worldwide LLC

Athena Academy

Nannyguards

http://www.athenaworldwide.com

http://www.nannyguards.com

 

 

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Being a Close Protection Operative: Your relationship with the client

Sometimes maybe you wonder what kind of relationship you are allowed to have with your client because of the nature of your profession. You are spending many hours with him, sometimes good moments, sometimes bad. You are the one who is in presence in his important business meeting, or in his ‘’private and personal meetings’’. So what is the role of you in those kinds of situations?

I have been asked many times by new professionals how they can deal those kinds of challenges. ‘’what if my client asked me to go for a drink with him? Should I accept?’’ or ‘’ what if my client ask me to do things that are out of my responsibilities?’’.

If you are a female close protection operative then be prepared to deal with even more difficult situations.

First of all, it is very important and primary action when you accept a job proposal to do all the necessary Intel about your client’s case. Try to learn as many information you can about the client, his/her family and professional background, (in our days with the internet is very easy to gain a lot of information). Do your own research on the threat level, no matter what client is revealing about the threat he/she is dealing you need to do your own threat assessment based on your work education and experience, so you know what situation you are dealing and most important what is the threat level.

Times are hard and security industry is a cut throat work industry…but you must not accept any position just because someone is paying you well. Ask from your client to be honest with you, you are there not to make him reveal his secrets and feel embarrassing but to understand the true risks and take action. There are different risks levels for different people (pop stars, politicians, businessmen).

After you have done your threat assessment ask from your client to have a conversation, explain him the real situation, don’t hesitate that you will make him be afraid. He needs to know exactly what he is dealing with and what else he may need to do, or what different actions he need to take. After he has understood the threat level, explain him what are your responsibilities. Don’t rely on the fact he has worked before with previous close protection operatives and he will know. Also do not expect all your suggestions on security matter that will be taken into consideration from all the clients, some are open to hear from security professionals and trust their opinion, some let’s say will give you just few ‘’tools’’ to work with and you have to adjust to it.

During your working hours you have to be serious and pay attention on your duty, not paying attention to the lady at the bar.

You are not there to eavesdrop when your client has business meetings or any other dates.  Whatever you see or hear during your duty remain secret. This is something you have to mention to your client. We don’t talk about our client’s personal life or professional details to others (remember how unprofessional is for some bodyguards to reveal their ex clients personal hot details to the press after they have been fired or quit, if you were in a need of a bodyguard would you hire someone like them? I’m sure you not). First is not ethical, second is not professional, third it will cost you your reputation in security industry.

Keep secret from others the identity of your client. Even if it is ex client, don’t brag about who your client was. If someone wants to hurt him he will come to you for details. So silence and privacy are the most important characteristic of your job.

As a close protection operative your job is to protect client’s life and image. You are not there to: take your clients clothes from laundry, carrying his briefcase, shopping bags, etc. How can you protect his life when you are carrying his briefcase? How long it will take you to drop the briefcase and take out your gun to shoot if it’s needed? It sound unprofessional but we are seeing it even today that some colleagues are doing it.

Don’t be afraid to say NO when you are asked to perform duties which are out of your role, the client is hiring a bodyguard not a maitre or a battler. It makes you more professional to deny something like this instead of accepting it and put in danger his and your life. He has hired you to provide security services not any other kind of services.

That’s why it is very important you earn your clients professional respect. He must see you as an educated, well trained, experienced and professional person, and that’s only up to you to earn it. If your client respects you then any of your suggestions over the work are will be accepted by him positively.

Keep secret from others the identity of your client. Even if it is ex client, don’t brag about who your client was. If someone wants to hurt him he will come to you for details. So silence and privacy are the most important characteristic of your job.

Now what about your relationship with your client? Should it be strictly professional or also include a friendly relationship?

To be honest being in this profession for 11 years now, I have found it hard to answer it myself. Every one of us, client or close protection operative, we are different, have different social background and if you add to that a different culture then be ready to deal more difficulties.

What I use to do far now is imagine there is a line, on the left is the Strictly Professional, and on the right is Friendly. I decide to operate somewhere in the middle. From my personal experience I found out when I was acting strictly professional the client was ‘’afraid’’, my position there was to make them feel safe but when you appear ‘’untouchable’’ they believe you don’t understand their fear or you don’t feel what they’re going through. It is very important for them to feel you understand them. Is not easy to be the client….Sometimes they will open up and talk to you and you must show you can hear them.

From the other side if you go on the right side and be Friendly…then automatically your professionalism level will be down on your client’s eyes, not because he doesn’t trust you anymore but because your professional suggestions in future won’t be dealing as in a serious way. Have in mind how Psychologists work, they cannot offer professional counseling to people who belong in their family or friends and one of the reasons is that’s because sometimes listening someone who is out of your environment and an expert in that specific part gives his words more credibility and makes him more reliable.

Not to mention if you pass the friendly level, your client will start to ask for favors or do things out of your duties again.

It is understood that you may have to have many hours with the same person, your client. Can you start and have a friendly chat or gossip? NO, talk to him only when he talks to you or you have to say something that include his safety. During the hours you are spending with him you may need to have lunch together, this is ok, but remember to pay at the beginning in case you need to leave quickly. Your relation also with his family members will have to be the same. Don’t look too friendly cause both of you will be emotional involved and maybe it can cost you your viability. Don’t look too untouchable because he will think you don’t care. Have a middle position toward your client which is addressed by professionalism.

Alcohol? Well we don’t have to mention why it is forbidden during your duty hours. But if your client calls you for a drink or coffee while you’re not on duty what would you do? In that case you have to have in mind why he is calling you? Does he see you as a friend or do you think he is flirting with you or he just want to talk about your work? You have to take the decision by using your common sense and professionalism.

And last but sometimes the most dangerous trap a close protection operative may fall is to have sexual relationship with his client or the client’s wife. Remember Kevin Costner in the Bodyguard movie sleeping with his client? Oh yes art sometimes copy real life.

Being emotionally involved with your client no matter how unprofessional we see it, it has happened with some colleagues. We can’t judge someone’s heart, but we must make you aware that in a relationship like this the one who is in a negative position is the client. And that’s because he/she is ‘’depended’’ on you. Just imagine it as a relationship doctor-client. However if you think you found the love of your life, someone else can take your professional place and you can always protect them from another perspective.

Now if you are a female close protection operative then you better be prepared to deal also with some cases of sexual harassment, either from your clients, their family members or even your colleagues. Sometimes there are people who believe that because they hired you to protect them you are there also for ‘’extra services’’ (that’s a belief some clients have in countries with a different cultural treatment on women). There have been cases like those which have been unreported to authorities but a common secret within female professionals. This is something that is up to you how you want to deal with and how far you want to go with it.

Denida Zinxhiria

Athena Academy Founder

http://www.athenaacademy.com

Female Close Protection Operatives Training, Level 1, September 1-9, 2012, Atlanta, GA

Athena’s Close Protection Operative certification is the next generation in Close Protection training. Our course has been adapted to meet the particular training and educational requirements, specific to female close protection operatives.

Basic Training:

Including:
-Principles of Executive Protection/Code of Conduct
-Solo Protector & in a Detail -Physical Security
-Protective Escort -Surveillance & Countersurveillance
-Protective Intelligence & Advance Operations
-Armed and Unarmed Combat/Krav Maga
-Anti-Terrorism (identification and and the terrorist cycle)
-Improvised Explosive Device
-Basic Pistol Training & Firearms Safety
-Event & Estate Security
-Behavioral Intelligence and Attack Recognition
-Dealing with Media & Paparazzi
-First Aid & CPR/AED

Our instructors are from Israel, Greece, and the United States. They brings ATHENA students unparalleled real world experience in protective service operations. Instructors that have served Prime Ministers, celebrities, CEO’s and other influential leaders will be teaching you.
We have an excellent success rate and once the course is completed we continue to work with our students to progress their development and assist their entry into the Close Protection world.

To learn more please visit: http://www.AthenaAcademy.com/

For additional information and applications please e-mail: charla@athenaworldwide.com

Athena Academy official FB page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Athena-Academy-International-Female-Security-Training/267075996663008

Course cost is $2,000 with payment schedules available to those who qualify. Deposits for this course are $500, and full course fees paid 3 weeks before starting date.

Application date open until July 30

Close Protection Operatives aka Bodyguards, do you know who they are?

Many people seem to have a confusion about what a CPO is. Because is one of the professions that doesn’t have specific standards to follow, unfortunately there many non professionals who are giving the bad image in our industry.

A Close Protection Operative is:

– The person who is in charge to protect his/her client’s life and interest.

– Have gone through specific Close Protection Training, so be aware of ex-law enforcement personnel, ex-military, ex-federal agents, and generally any ex- in something professionals who want to play in security industry field UNLESS they have specific Close Protection Training as well. Everyone has a specific training experience and field of knowledge, if you have a heart condition you will seek help from a Cardiologists, you won’t go to see an Orthopedic although they are both doctors, you need the one with a specific specialization, so why not doing the same when it comes to your safety?

– As the person in charged for his/her clients safety his suggestions over the security issues and plans must be respected and followed from the client, his family and his colleagues. Don’t make harder the work of someone who is there to protect you.

-Being a CPO mean you will be with your client and in present in many important personal or professional decisions or incidents will may follow. So your duty as well is to be discreet and silent about what you see and hear. There are enough many cases already of ex bodyguards who found the author in them and started putting in a book their ex clients ‘’spicy personal details’’. Professional and acceptable? I don’t think so.

A Close Protection Operative is Not:-A martial arts pro or black belt holder necessarily. In order to work as a CPO you must be in a position to know basic fighting techniques in order to protect yourself and your client. Be able to react in any possible attacks during your duty. But that doesn’t mean that you must have a black belt in any kind of martial arts or have practicing for years. Yes some Close Protection Operatives has gone through many years of training in martial arts practice and may have gain black belts but that is a result of their life and works prior their occupation with security industry, or as a personal choice. Have in mind when you start working as a CPO you won’t have that much time to attend any full time martial arts classes. So you need to learn something that will require less time but also be as much effective it can for you to use in real life and situations.

So a CPO is not a killing machine with a license to kill or beat anyone up.

-A CPO is not a Federal Agent or Law Enforcement personnel, they don’t have any access to any ‘’governmental sources or databases’’ or even ‘’call the brigade’’ options (unless some of them have the right persons in the right positions to gain any information out of the record), in some countries they have no rights more on duty than a simple citizen in his daily life. So don’t try to play the authority when you are not the authority. You must do your best to do your job and keep your client alive with what you have while not falling on a citizen’s rights. By that said you cannot do any body research or arrest anyone! Last incident in Greece, one of the CPOs of a Parliament Party Leader, threaten his clients supporters that those who will come closer to him at 1 meter will be arrested! And that while his client had a public speech.

Don’t think just because you are working in security industry that Law Enforcement personnel are your colleagues and should deal you like one. If they want to help your while you are working that’s more than fine but you can’t require or demand it. You need to follow their directions and orders when you are not in your client’s territory.

-A CPO is not a gang member, a doorman or a wrestler. Yes there are some cases when people who belong to ‘’night activities’’ have been hired to protect clients but that’s up the clients choice and belief that they can protect them better and know how to deal in hard situations. False and wrong idea… yes.

-A CPO is not responsible to carry his/her client’s shopping bags, laundries etc. Not only because has not been hired for that job, but doing any other activity or carrying anything will make his/her reactions slower if any attack occurs. Many clients require it, so refuse it by being polite and explaining the reasons.

Female Close Protection-Bodyguard Course, Atlanta, GA, September 23-30, 2011

Athena’s Close Protection Operative certification is the next generation in Close Protection training. Our course has been adapted to meet the particular training and educational requirements, specific to female close protection operatives.

Basic Training: Level 1

Including:
-Principles of Executive Protection/Code of Conduct
-Solo Protector & in a Detail -Physical Security
-Protective Escort -Surveillance & Countersurveillance
-Protective Intelligence & Advance Operations
-Armed and Unarmed Combat/Krav Maga
-Anti-Terrorism (identification and and the terrorist cycle)
-Improvised Explosive Device
-Basic Pistol Training & Firearms Safety
-Event & Estate Security
-Behavioral Intelligence and Attack Recognition
-Dealing with Media & Paparazzi
-First Aid & CPR/AED

Our instructors are from Israel, Greece, and the United States. They brings ATHENA students unparalleled real world experience in protective service operations. Instructors that have served Prime Ministers, celebrities, CEO’s and other influential leaders will be teaching you.
We have an excellent success rate and once the course is completed we continue to work with our students to progress their development and assist their entry into the Close Protection world.

To learn more please visit: http://www.AthenaAcademy.com/

For applications please e-mail: charla@athenaworldwide.com

Athena Academy official FB page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=44528524966&ref=ts

Course cost is $2,000 with payment schedules available to those who qualify. Deposits for this course are $500, and full course fees paid 3 weeks before starting date.

Application date open ntil June 30.