Mike Brown is one of those individuals who has found success as an operator by envisioning where he wanted to end up and trusting the process to take him there. In his time in the industry, he has earned his stripes and now reaps the rewards running a successful business and managing the protective detail for a very well-known public figure. I speak to Mike to learn some of his keys to success.
As the President-Elect wrapped up his speech, now joined onstage by his extended family, my attention was on the members of the United States Secret Service who were close by. I thought of these men and the job that they were tasked to do. Not knowing them personally, I wasn’t aware of their political affiliations, were they a Democratic like Biden, or a Republican, rooting for the current President, Trump? They, like every other citizen of the country, were allowed to cast their votes, and could have picked either, or none. However, at that moment, on that stage, I don’t think it mattered. These agents, surely knowing the risk associated with the occasion, were focused on the task at hand: The safety of their protective charges, no matter their personal political affiliation.
What were some takeaways you obtained from your past line of work? And how have they helped you in the private sector realm?
When I look at the totality of what we do in this industry there are quite a few takeaways. From having dealt with the irate couples during a domestic dispute to negotiating a business deal the importance of not only verbal judo but communicative and interpersonal skills tops the list, followed by the skills I learned from collecting evidence at a crime scene where attention to detail was key.
You and I know each other on a personal level but for those that don’t, can you give us an insight about your background and how you broke into the private sector?
All my life I wanted to go into Law Enforcement, I wanted to be the closest thing to a superhero. possible. Sounds funny , but it’s true. I started working loss Prevention at 19 and after graduating the reserve police academy I started working the night clubs eventually leading my own team at 21. Soon after I was introduced to Executive protection and I thought it was something I could be successful in and decided to jump in industry with both feet.
Throughout my nine years of experience in the Executive Protection (EP) industry, I’d like to think that I’ve achieved many significant accomplishments.
Having traveled to over 30 countries, building executive protection and estate teams, embarking on 10 major worldwide tours and transitioning from field agent to Director of Security. Despite my successes, I’ve still felt like a student at best, but now finally considering myself a Specialist. Naively, many young protectors are eager to consider themselves “specialists” without undergoing the proper mentorship and gaining the practical experience needed to hold this title.
An excerpt from the best-selling book, An Introduction to Celebrity Protection & Touring by Elijah Shaw & Dale June. To get the full book, order at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles or Ebooks.com. Limited Signed Editions available at www.ArmsLengthAway.com
Almost without question, if you are a musician, the recording process is the part you love. This is where they get to be creative; it’s where they take an abstract concept and make it a sonic work of art, one that hopefully will generate revenue. While it can be hard work for the artists, for most it’s a labor of love. They have the ability to get paid and earn a living for doing what they enjoy most.
In the previous instalments of this ongoing series, we discussed the challenges faced by Protectors who work with entertainers that spend at least some portions of their career involved in stage performances.
These challenges can take the form of unintentional harm coming by way of a prop, stage equipment, or something as simple as a slip and fall caused by a long dress and high heels.
Whenever we can, we as Protectors must try and anticipate, correcting or counteracting the occurrences that can cause this harm. This is usually done during the Site Advance at which time we do a walk-thru of the areas that the VIP will be visiting, in this scenario, the stage. It is at that time we will perform a visual inspection of the stage and the props, go hands-on with items the Protectee might come into contact with, such as the guard railing, and enlist the help of experts to answer questions that are beyond our realm of expertise, such as how the overhead lights are connected to the scaffolding.
Spend any significant amount of time providing protection for entertainers involved with stage performances, and you will likely encounter one of this segment of the industry’s biggest headaches, the stage crasher.
The motivation for these individuals comes in various forms, some are “super fans” who see getting on the stage with the celebrity as the ultimate form of expression of their loyalty and support. They often refer to it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and despite common sense, the threat of ejection, arrest, or sometimes worse, they still needed to make the attempt.
regret that comes from knowing that you could have done more to support a person in life, even if just by offering a kind word or two. Some might think a topic like this has no place in an Alpha industry like Close Protection but consider that a large part of our ranks are pulled from both law enforcement and the military. We can all see how helpful positive reinforcement has been for those stressful careers.
Celebrity protection is in some ways a unique market, however, in marketing, the more specific you can be, the more successful you will be in finding customers. This means that it’s helpful, sometimes necessary, to research, develop, and define a niche, carving out a select piece of a bigger industry to specialize in.
It’s the final wrap up of the last day of your Close Protection training course. It’s been a long, and at times grueling, process but ultimately rewarding on multiple levels.
Along the way you’ve met some people you have really gelled with (and a couple that you have no plans on staying in contact with once class ends.) Overall, you enjoyed the experience, feel like you have gotten your moneys worth, and can say that you have some new, “tools for the toolbox.”
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.
2017 has been an interesting year for politics, particularly American politics. On these shores, we had an election for the history books, one which pitted the wife of a former President against a billionaire reality show host.
Are we as protectors, just giving lip service to the physical nature of the craft? Yes, this is a thinking man’s game and the best muscle to work out is the mind, however, are we really preparing for that “Moment of Truth,” the one we hope never happens on our watch, but that we nonetheless have to plan for?
I’ve always tried to make sure I ask and answer that question before I write about personal experiences in public settings. In light of that, I must admit I thought about this one a bit longer than most, but felt it was worthy to share because one of the purposes of The Circuit Magazine is to inform and educate while offering unique perspectives within the Close Protection community.
“Elijah, I’m glad you choose me for the assignment, just so you know I have to be home on the 15th as my son has his little league try-outs.” I’ll have to be honest and say, if the assignment extends past the 15th, I’m likely going to use someone else from the outset. Why? Because VIP clients appreciate familiarity but the rotation of celebrity protection agents does not project stability, instead, it implies just the opposite.
An Introduction to Celebrity Protection and Touring is a book by Elijah Shaw and Dale June and is reviewed here by Miguel DeCoste
My take is that in the Close Protection industry, our Armchair Quarterbacks are oftentimes doing the business on multiple levels to varying degrees of success, but instead of enjoying that success and motivating and inspiring others, they spend a noticeable degree of time criticizing every play someone else makes.
A stable career in Corporate Executive Protection, more often than not with standard hours, reasonable expectations and a healthy benefits package, or the wild and unpredictable world of Celebrity Protection with its Long hours, temperamental clients, and a job description that includes pretty much everything but the kitchen sink.