Every Protector yearns for the point in their career when they can lock in their dream client: One that will respect their work both professionally and financially.
That is the brass ring in our business, AKA the sacred cow, however, on the road to eating Filet Mignon, there are bound to be several Big Mac’s along the route.
So, as we proceed on this journey to success, we have to make sure we navigate the potholes, namely, doing the job as required without becoming too comfortable in our role, leading to potentially disastrous results.
Throughout my career, I’ve seen an unfortunate occurrence happen time and time again. An agent works hard to reach an established position with a client and after a length of time, sometimes months, sometimes years, they do something that gets them removed from the Detail. Now there is absolutely no doubt about it, some VIP’s are just temperamental, and their need for security, or the removal of their current team could change based off of a number of different factors, none of which could have anything to do with job performance. It could be financial, coming in the form
of a phone call from the business manager who advises the Protectee that he has been overspending for the past 12 months and there have to be some budget cuts. When faced with paying for their 2nd Lamborghini or paying for security services that perceptually they may or may not need, some clients will choose the wheels with little hesitation.
In other cases, the separation of services is justified, say the Protectee had a specific threat against them and they were utilizing your services until that threat was mitigated (i.e., a stalker that was jailed) they may then scale back security or suspend it all together, such is life in the business world, and as I always say, even high net worth individuals count their dollars – about certain things.
However, another example leading to separation of services it the worst simply because it could have been avoided, and that’s the dreaded monster of complacency that seems to strike some in our profession. It’s like after a while we forget how badly we initially wanted the assignment, not to mention all of our promises that, if given the opportunity, we would be the hardest working, most diligent agent ever. Instead, we start of sharp as a sword, and slowly over time we become duller and duller until we have about as much value as a Toys-R-Us prop in the real Trojan War.
Particularly in the entertainment sector, I can see a direct correlation between this type of complacency and the status of the Protectee. Meaning, if we are working with the next big thing since sliced bread and the artist demands, from private jets to 5 star accommodations, are immediately taken care of, sometimes the trickle down effect makes us feel like we too are a star. If that’s the mindset, consciously or subconsciously, then it will start to affect how we go about our days. I mean, if the artist is always 15 mins late, why can’t we be? If the artist gets free clothes and other merchandise gifted to them, what harm can it be to ask for some for ourselves? The slippery slope then becomes easier and easier to slide down and everything is great… all the way until the client or their senior handlers notice that you are enjoying yourself a bit too much, especially as they are paying you to be there.
The other group I see it with in entertainment, is Protectors working with new artist who themselves don’t know how they are supposed to interact with security. The client is overly accommodating, and the agent takes advantage of that to their long-term determent. While there are some “buddyguards” who have survived in this business, most, have found themselves unemployed once their client came to the realization that if they are paying someone a professional wage they need a professional service, not a new friend. When that agent then gets the rug pulled out from under them, their response is often shock, disbelief and even anger. However, if they were to look objectively back on the situation, they might see that they might have painted themselves into a corner by allowing the VIP to view them and how they carry themselves in a different light.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying there is only one way to interact with clients. In fact, I am a firm believer that you have to have different approaches to different client types if you want long term success in this industry. With that said, it’s vitally important that whatever your approach, you always present yourself in a professional manner that can’t be picked apart. That does not mean you can’t have a personality, or enjoy some of the fringe benefits that sometimes come with the job, but we do need to makes sure we do not sacrifice long term stability for short term comforts.
Keeping Your Edge – Don’t Get Comfortable
By: Elijah Shaw
Elijah Shaw is the National Director of the North American Bodyguard Association and an international security consultant.