These days, it seems any guy who is big in stature is calling himself a bodyguard or Executive Protection Specialist. I receive resumes all the time and sadly the information contained is usually along the lines of: 6″5′, 400 lbs, forty time 4.5 bench press 450 Ibs. There’s usually not much more.
The truth is, any time a client is actually in need of brawn means that someone wasn’t using their brain. And that someone could be you–if you think that this career is about weight-lifting and packing heat.
I recently had the great pleasure of working on a detail to protect former President Bill Clinton on a visit to my state. It was a highlight in my long career serving as an Executive Protection specialist for many reasons–first, Mr. Clinton was a gracious and genuinely nice man to be around, and secondly the Secret Service team was made up of incredibly well-trained, professional and awe-inspiring gentlemen. Now, let me share something very important with you–the Clinton detail team Leader was maybe 5’8″ and 160 pounds. Not what you might look at and call physically intimidating. No doubt, he’s physically fit and probably above and beyond the average EPS in skills requiring physical confrontation–but here’s the thing:
He will probably never need to utilize those skills.
Why? Because the successful EPS will spend the majority of his/her time and effort anticipating potential problems. He manages to keep the individual to be protected–whether a President or the lead singer in a rock band–out of harms way by preparing for every possible scenario. The time spent on working out at the gym is of no value, if a bodyguard doesn’t understand the importance of these important skills and personal traits:
- Ability to avoid and deflect confrontation–if your energy and focus is on a physical confrontation with a stranger, your client will be unprotected from others
- Advance work–knowing the location the client is visiting, knowing emergency exits, planning the route
- The ability to follow directions to the letter and to communicate clearly and specifically
- Detail-oriented: Always planning and thinking ahead
- Ability to “blend” with others–thereby drawing less notice to yourself and furthermore less notice to your client
- Discretion–meaning, don’t share ANY personal information regarding your client with anyone
Let me address the last point, discretion. Of late, bodyguards to celebrities Kobe Bryant, Anna Nicole-Smith and Lindsay Lohan have chosen to talk to the press about their clients. I hope whatever big payday they’re expecting is worth it, because it is career suicide to discuss your employers’ personal habits. It is a classless and unprofessional thing to do. If your client is doing something illegally and you have a problem with that, then you need to make a decision for yourself as to whether or not you want to work with those circumstances.
In addition to being in poor taste, the bodyguard who shares personal details about an individual is also potentially increasing opportunities for threats to that client. The more information the public has about a clients personal life and tastes–the more of a target that person could potentially become.
It is enough that celebrities are often held hostage in their lives by the general public. They are entitled to some privacy, just like everybody else. As a bodyguard or EPS, you are relied upon to do a specific job and paid extremely well to do this work, and if I’m being truthful here, part of the reason for the high paycheck is the understanding that you will keep your mouth shut. Earning more money from books or news stories by spilling sordid details about your employers private life is greedy, and breaks the trust factor that is so necessary in this line of work. Indiscretion reflects poorly on all of us.
Thanks for your inspiring and educating articles on bodyguard careers. I am 30 year old ex-military personnel, 1.70M in height. I’m interested in a career in Executive Protection.I want to know if Height and Age have anything to do with going into an EP careers? Cheers.
Thanks very much for your article. I have witnessed guys calling themselves EP specialist. I overheard a conversation at a major event in Los Angeles by supposedly EP Specialist. They were discussing very intimate details of former and present clients habits. I will always remember them and their faces and will never work with them again. I’m a 24 year veteran an take my EP responsibilities very seriously. Confidentiality is paramount in this business.
Such a great article. Very motivating to hear that high-end EP agents such as yourself and the USSS are applying these professional tactics. Happy to know that the knuckle dragging day are finally over. Keep safe, Doc
I am female, 23 years old, and wondering how to go about putting myself out in the body gurading world. I went to a credible bodygurading academy and am a black belt in two styles of martial arts (Karate and Jujitsu which I have been taking since I was seven). One problem I have to come to terms with is my height. I personally don’t think it hinders me too much since I’m strong for my gender (I can bench 230 lbs)and it may cause some to underestimate me giving me the upper hand, but at 5’4″, I’m left wondering who will be interested. Is this a legitimate concern?
The unfortunate part is, that the profession itself is portrayed as all muscle and punch.
I am gainfully employed and successful within one of Australia’s elite bodyguard companies 538 Pty Ltd, I provide executive protection services to some of Australia’s top executives for some of Australia’s top companies, as well as other high profile individuals within the entertainment industry and corporate environment.
Yes I have experience (over 25 years) across a broad range of martial arts and self defense disciplines including Karate, kickboxing, boxing, and close quarter combat. I am also qualified and licensed as a Bodyguard and in Conflict Resolution, Defensive Tactics, CIT (Cash In Transit), Baton & Handcuffs, Firearms, as well as well as being one of 538’s Head Trainers in Protocol & Etiquette, Advanced Protective
Formations, and Advanced Bodyguard techniques.
I am also 5″7′ and 75Kg. Yes there is a place for everyone, and in some situations, and under certain circumstances height is important. I have worked doors at nightclubs where I found my height could be an issue (The intimidation factor). However in EP my height, size, and qualifications have allowed me to operate in a very rewarding environment. Executive Protection.
Executive Protection Specialist
538 Pty Ltd
Depends on the budget and planning. Taking on a solo job compared to a government based job with 20 bodies is completely different. I have utilised female EP staff to be with the Principal and as protocol made it difficult to get closer to him and not being a small was thankful for my college degree in business to be able to assume the role of a business adviser with 1 Principal who has never told anyone otherwise of my pseudo role.
Dressing the part to blend in makes the difference and it could lead down to how your tie is done up to your choice of watch or shoes as to how well you blend in with the others. Some EP staff are ex military and their training dictates everything from how the dress, talk, use a bathroom and stand around to those who have adapted their experience to look appear to blend in more.
A large male with more gold than Mr T is just a status symbol as a flash car is to a young wannabe and to be honest it is window dressing like the need to have 200 bodyguards when in reality only 10% would be required. Overkill to show the world – I am someone special.
Thanks so much for the post Mark,you remain a pro.
Good Job and i totally agree. In fact i was somewhere with a client and they had so called bodyguards wearing jeans and t-shirts..no radio’s… and they was telling us they had all the cetif and creditnals..well make a long story short PD came behind stage and was doing a sweep and checked my team and we had everything they needed on the other hand That clients security got arrested for not having ccw’s… When will they learn!
I am impressed after reading your article. Myself, i am an aspiring EPS who is actively looking into joining the elite world of executive protection. The propblem that i have seen so far is that most places want people that have served in the elite military jobs like the navy seals, army rangers etc. I am in the military but i do not belong to any of this job description and would like to become an Executive Protection Specialist. Any advice on how to go about this.
While I agree that a security detail for the President is very different than that for other celebrities, I think you completely missed the point of the article–that to succeed long-term in this field requires more than physical size and strength. Certainly, size as an intimidation tactic is effective, but physical force or use of weapons is always the LAST resort. My point was the importance of having some intellect and good common sense in managing situations. Planning will help to prevent the need for using physical force. What I’m suggesting is that people who want into this field, develop skills IN ADDITION TO handling firearms and hand-to-hand combat. The ability to remain calm, focused, and to use verbal skills to diffuse escalating situations is important. The ability to foresee and predict potential problems is essential. I am talking about management, not muscles. Sadly, alot of guys who are just big (and often angry) think they should be a bodyguard. There’s more to it than physical strength.
By the way, my stats: Ht. 60 Wt. 260
First of all, I find the illustration offensive. The implication that size is unimportant in all cases is 100% off base. The President’s security needs are VERY different than other high-profile, celebrity principals. Most EPS will never fire their weapon, but will have to use physical force on occasion. Most clients don’t have hundred-man teams. If you have a 3 man detail and are required to take on attackers in a night club, size is VERY important. Also, psychology 101 will tell you that intimidation will prevent many “opportunity” attacks.
There is more to EP than planing to avoid confrontation. If planing was everything, EP training would not include hand-to-hand combat and weapons training. Perhaps the author should come-to-terms with his small stature before writing his next article.
Been busy working my current detail and wanted to say thanks and good luck with future projects. This was a great read and it is all about us as professionals, to train the client in the true meaning of Executive Protection. It is great to see that you are getting comments from true pros in our line of work. Hope we will talk and meet soon in the future.
Great comments to all. Three words!! CODE OF ETHICS….Not only do we protect the physical safety of our clients but we’re also their confidants. The one thing that sets me off more is seeing a bodyguard or protection specialist profit from a clients misfortune. On a different note..I have been covering CEO’s and dignitaries most of my career and I’ve been interested in getting into celebrity protection. But., alas..I wasn’t big enough. Now I’m 6’4 and 235 lbs. and I don’t consider myself little in any respec, but it’s good to know that the celebs are wising up, and choosing professional protection agents over the brawlers and gun junkies. Stay safe all….
Mark very nice comment. And I agree with you 100%, in fact at this very moment Iâ€™m working on a project that will separate true professionals from the rest of the bunch. Take care my friend
It’s so unfortunate that so few people share these views. I work in a competitive market place in Ibiza-Spain ( amongst many Mediterranean locations ) – surrounded by CPO’s who’ve entered the industry with misguided motivations. I see, and I’m reliably informed that certain operators who under-cut our industry rates… are subsidizing their income by working hand-in-hand with Celebrity Photography Agencies. The Highly-Social Paris Hilton was routinely ‘Sold-out’ by her CPO on her visit to Ibiza last Summer… and an International Soccer player who just relocated to L.A. is regularly ‘Sold-Out’ by his personal protection team – to the tune of a nice Rolex watch.
All I can say is that clients and agents should be suspicious of unusually low rates for ‘Professional Services’… and check the Authenticity of the ‘supplier’ – not rely solely on recommendations from VIP-Fixers …
It’s a sad day when such “incredibly well-trained, professional and awe-inspiring personnel” are asked to compete with the likes of these ‘friends of Media’ types for ‘Private Sector’ contracts. Our Industry has been diluted by the growing presence of groups from ‘Non Related Backgrounds’ and it’s time for the Top-End Professionals around the World to unite under a ‘Truly Recognize’ Worldwide License…
Carver Myhand, II
Yo Huck thats good was wondering if Cockrill was still working for Clinton? I had the privilidge also a year ago on his book tour. Only a few professionals get this op so big ups to you. You deserved it. Your rep in this biz is spotless. Even your royal highness has mentioned you a few times to others but well keep that to ourselves. Hope I get the chance to work with you as well in the near future its a pleasure being in the same biz with you. When I grow up I want to be just like you. LOL See you on the stage or behind it my brother much respect and admiration for you. Keep thestandards high so the rest of us will keep reaching for your stardom.
Congratulations Hucky! Sounds like it was a Great experience. Keep up the good work!
Good Read. Been filling my spare time in with Strike Security work this year. I tell you it’s a BIG difference in the quality of personnel. While there are a few decent individuals, most to be thugs. I am currently on a stint in California and there is one fellow here who likes to brag about his time working with Triple Canopy, Blackwater, and Steele in Iraq and how much “EP” work he has done. Of course he throws out that “Daddy” is a general who helped him get his clearance (he has no military background). Problem is the man can’t take direction without pitching a fit. Recently I had to add a rotation into the posts because he couldn’t seem to stay at his (loves to “float” away to visit a buddy of his who is working another post). Got shitty and wanted to know when the shift leader was going to rotate with his postition (basic guard) and he was serious. He actually thought he should be “rotated” into a supervisor role when he can’t even follow direction. Mumbled under his breath about “kickin @ss” when he was laughed at during the shift change (where he made his statement). These guys are little more than thugs these days.
Congratulations on the high profile gig that you were able to land. The comment I am about to make is real and not meant to be offensive, so people please do not “shoot the messenger.” here it goes; a great majority of us in the business go by nicknames and monikers that help define the pereson that we are looking to portray. I have been in the business for years and have had the opporunity to work with several well-known clients as well as some distinguished foriegn diplomats. On several occasions I have attempted to hire “agents” that i personally know for a detail and have been instructed to find “agents’ who look and dress like the client. In other words those of us who stand 6′ 4” and better and who weigh in excess of 300 lbs we must realize that we are becoming dinasours in teh executive protection industry. i myself have “slimmed down,” in order to make my self desireable among the corporate clients that come my way.
Teh author who wrote the article is correct in many of his points. Extremely large persons who call themselves ‘bodyguards”aare now being passed over for “average looking security agents because many clients have determined that these “large’ security persoin rely upon brawn rather than their intellect.
I have witnessed first hand clients turning their backs on “agents” who are large in stature for “agents” who look like the average ‘joe.” My friends some of us must take teh necessary steps to ensure our survival in the security field. I have found one exception to teh above. Clients who are rappers and hip-hop artist tend to go for the large agents who strike intimidating poses but do not posses the necessary skills to do the job that they were hire for.
HEY CONGRATS ON THAT PRESIDENTIAL GIG,,,THATS WHAT WE TALKIN ABOUT A REAL CLIENT,WHO UNDERSTANDS REAL PROTECTION…MAN IT SOUNDS LIKE A FAIRY TALE…DO YO THANG DAWG!!!!
Good read. I worked with an individual who went on a talk show here in Toronto a few years ago and all the talk show host wanted to know was the intimate secrets of different celebrities that he had worked with. Needless to say he made a few negative comments about a celebrity which was broadcast to millions. This particular individual soon found that work wasn’t being offered as it once had been and eventually moved out to Australia.