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.