A large part of my career has been spent working with High Net Individuals in the entertainment industry.
Over the decades I have seen many artists, label executives, managers and agents rise from relative obscurity, to monumental heights. For example, it was an amazing thing to have your Protectee ask you to pick up a 9 year old who’d won some local acclaim because of his singing ability, and take him to a meeting, then subsequently watch his meteoritic rise to arguably the top 1% in pop music, past & present.
Yet just as I’ve been witness to that, I have also watched those projected meteoric rises, crash and burn on ascent. In many cases, at the time of the upward trajectory, the artist/manager/label executive, had no idea their fortunes might change dramatically. So when there was a malfunction in the craft, for whatever reason, and they had to brace for impact, how they were rescued, had a lot to do with how they treated the people around them that helped with the mission.
While I know that was an extended metaphor, I also think it helped clearly illustrate the circumstances that some in our industry can find themselves in. The measure of success comes in many forms, and by whatever metric you measure individual success, there is a feeling of “making it,” that is undeniable. You might not be where you want, but you can tell that the fruits of your labor have paid off, and you can see a difference. That difference might be in the bank account, social capital, prestige, or a number of other factors, but you are clearly ahead of the race you were in.
What happens, however, is this lead can sometimes breed arrogance. While you might not have forgotten about the struggle that got you there, you may not pay much thought to the support of the people that have helped you along the way. Much like our Protectee’s who by the very nature of their position, might be self-absorbed and at times narcissistic, Protectors with a measurable degree of success can find indifference, or arrogance, standing on our shoulders.
A sports coach might say to his team on championship day, “no one got here alone,” however, rarely in our industry is there anyone to remind us, particularly at higher levels. Of course there are mentors, but rarely do they notice omissions. Ask yourself, no matter what your current stature is in this industry, how many people are around you that have been around you since the beginning? How many people do you have that you could call on in an emergency, or more importantly, would feel that they could call on you?
While social media has increased society’s connectivity, make no mistake about it, the higher you climb up the ladder, the harder it is for people to get in touch with you. While this is in no way a call to be accessible to everyone all of the time, we should take inventory and make sure that those that we call our “team,” feel respected and appreciated. There are a number of reasons for this, the biggest being that it is simply the right thing to do. However, aside from that, it’s a law of physics that, what goes up, must come down. So that stands to reason that the people that you treat equitably on the ascent, will also be the ones that you see again on the way down. Exactly how that descent occurs, (gradual, controlled landing, or crash & burn) is unknown, as it has yet to occur.
What we can do, is be mindful of our interactions, and in an industry full of Alphas, take extra caution to not take offence, where none might be intended. Additionally, we may want to actively help others who might not be in the same position we are in. Again it’s the right thing to do, but even if you considered it just a method of best practices for that inevitable day when things (accounts, clients, detail opportunities, etc.) don’t come as quickly or easily, you know you have individuals who want to see you win, or at the very least don’t want to see you lose.
Keeping Your Edge: Support Those You Meet Along The Way
By: Elijah Shaw
Elijah Shaw is the National Director of the North American Bodyguard Association and the CEO of ICON Global, and International Executive Protection Consulting Firm. Elijah, who has been featured in international publications such as Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, and Portfolio, runs the ICON Academy, an EP Training Program specializing in Celebrity & VIP Protection. He also currently sits on the Board of Directors of Executive Security International (ESI), the United States oldest Executive Protection Training School. His book, An Introduction to Executive Protection & Touring: A Guide to Mastering the Business of VIP Security, hit the Amazon best sellers list, and is available now worldwide.