In classes, we often hear, “Hey, I want to go to Iraq and run details for $1,500.00 a day…will your training help me?”
First, let me say that there aren’t many details paying that much any more (I know of one and you have to know the detail leader to get hired). Second, my answer is always, “This training certainly won’t hurt you, but you should find out who holds the contract for that particular assignment, and go take their course!” This will enable you to learn their systems while allowing them the opportunity to grow comfortable with you .
You should seek out training from competent instructors, but almost as importantly, from professionals who make their living in the environment that you want to join. As I mentioned previously, some of the skill-sets are transferable, but you have to admit that there is a world of difference between club-hopping with a rap artist and working a speaking event with the King of Spain and the Chair of the Federal Reserve.
In our methodological review and revolution we put training into a business process and determined first and foremost, “Know the elements of the job you want”; and train accordingly. Once you know where you want to be, it will be easier to identify the skill-sets that you will need to be successful. In our programs, we like to work that out with the students in advance of the course, so that as we cover the material, we are playing into their hand. The academic portion of the course focuses on an explanation of protection (historically and operationally) so that attendees have a realistic understanding of and appreciation for the components that they’ll be learning about for the next 40 to 80 hours.
By breaking the aforementioned core elements into modular lessons, we are able to expand or condense them consistent with the needs of the student and/or client. In short, these topics can be one-hour survey courses or two-day advanced training components. This also made it easier to format their delivery to meet military drill periods, college academic semesters or organizational time and budget slots.
We integrate hard-skills throughout the course so that students are not sedated by incessant lecture. This also allows us to cover the wide range of defensive tactics over an extended period rather than saturating students physically and intellectually by throwing six to eight hours of DT at them in one setting.
Our goal is to provide a firm foundation of academic and practical exercises in the first forty hours so that a student can begin to build experientially as soon as they hit the streets (Table 3). Then, after the specialist has an opportunity to gain practical experience, they are better positioned to return for the advanced (OPOTA Level II) course. Subjects to which they were introduced in the Level I program, such as Threat Assessment, are studied in more detail in the advanced program. Even critics can see that listening to a clinical forensic psychologist explain the effects of personality disorders in an assessment of an individual’s potential for violence…without the assessor having met any crazy people yet…is often wasted training.
The infusion of experience also makes for a more informative session for all attendees and instructors, as they are now able to effectively apply academic learning to a real world situation. It is the same type of difference that we would see in a briefing with a person who memorizes a road map, versus a person who has driven the routes and knows the landmarks. The person who has “been there” adds value to the discussion.
In conclusion, know where you want to end up. Goal planning becomes so much easier when we have a final target in mind. Avoid the Alice in Wonderland dilemma of asking if you’re on the right road, because in reality, if you don’t know your destination, then it really doesn’t matter what road you’re on.
Seek out professionals in the business who are making a living, doing what you want to be doing, and ask them what type of schools they recommend. Tailor your behavior and appearance accordingly. What works in Hollywood doesn’t work on Wall Street.
Read. There is a phenomenal amount of information available via the internet and in books published by some qualified authors. I always recommend that prospective students read at least two protection-related books prior to signing up for training so that they really understand what protection is about and decide if they are cut out for it. It prevents misunderstanding and saves time later when people show up thinking that this is some sort of SWAT training, and they leave disappointed.
Call the school and ask them what their academic focus is, and ask for a couple of successful student references. Many years ago, I was attempting to fill a manger-level protection position in a large company I worked for. To support my recruiting efforts, I contacted a very prestigious protection school and asked them for some resumes of their graduates. They sent me three; two truck drivers and a barber. There is nothing wrong with driving trucks or cutting hair for a living, and I was impressed that these three supposedly graduated at the top of their class. However, just because a school has hype and visibility, doesn’t mean that they are magically going to find jobs for their graduates. Schools must be honest with their students and explain the type of experience clients are demanding. For management level jobs (six-figure) corporate America wants relevant experience. This event caused me to wonder if the school was properly vetting or preparing their students, or just accepting anyone with a check book.
There is something for everyone in this business. We don’t all have to be martial artists or crack shots. Use your strengths and life experience to your advantage. Right now, I’m training pilots in bomb search and protection skills so that they can understand and augment itinerant details when ferrying execs to cities like Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Johannesburg and the like. In this penny-pinching day and age, it is easier to train existing personnel to support protection than it is to have your budget slashed and not be able to supply anyone or anything. By the same token, if you are an IT person or a financial wiz, you can find a place in protection; ask around. Don’t miss an opportunity to educate others who can support your career or programs; most of the time, they don’t understand why you do what you do.
Be ethical today. If you lack personal integrity and ethics, your reputation will follow you tomorrow. If you prefer to go on CNN talking about your last client running naked through her house, try not to be offended if other clients prefer not to use you. At the same time, don’t ever break the law; if you’re protecting…say…the Governor’s daughter, and she’s hooking up with her cocaine source, your presence in the room can get you in trouble. She’s probably got an income tomorrow…you don’t.
Best wishes, and try not to burn out too soon!