KEEPING YOUR EDGE: Can I Get Some Work?

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By Elijah Shaw, President ICON Services
About the author

Hands down, this has to be amongst the most confusing phrases in the Close Protection Lexicon. Bad sentence structure aside, the words themselves illustrate a disregard for the complexities that go into working the Executive Protection craft at a high level. As an active operator, business owner and training provider, at least 2-3 times a month I open up my in-box to a message that reads, “Can I get some work?” I found myself really stopping to think about what that person was really saying to me, particularly those that I have little to no previous association with.

To me it means that you think so little of what I do, that I would put someone who I do not know personally, or even by trusted referral, to watch over my client just because they said what equates to a magic word. I mean it has to be magic right? The individual is saying it because the expectation must be for the decision maker to just roll over, discard all of his protocols and procedures and just open up the floodgates because they asked nicely, right?

But maybe I’m being too hasty, maybe the people that say, “can I get some work?” mean they are highly qualified so I would be stupid to pass them over? But if they are so qualified, why is it that they think that decades of established business practices fly right out of the window when you are dealing with EP work? Quick, stop what you are doing and picture someone walking up to Bill Gates or Warren Buffet and saying, “Can I get some work???” How successful do you think they would be in scoring employment? So why is it ok in our industry?

One of the problems I think is the rise of social media. The World Wide Web is an amazing place to connect people from all around the world in a way unlike anything that’s ever been accomplished in our planets history, however that connectivity can also be a double-edged sword.   Just because the internet, and specifically social media, has allowed us to eliminate some of the long form methods of communication in favor of a short hand way of getting in front of a decision maker, it doesn’t mean we can’t be professional when the time comes.

I’m sure everyone has heard the expression, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” I’d advise all in the “can I get some work” camp (hereto referred as CIGSW) to pay strong attention to that advice. Depending on a variety of factors ranging from the method of communication i.e., the phone or text messages, to simply if the decision maker has had a tough day, CIGSW can come off as arrogant, unprofessional, shallow and even weak.

Yes, I want assets on my team, but I’ll share with you a secret, I choose the assets way more than they choose me. If I notice a person that I think would make a great addition, I will approach them when the opportunity is right. Usually my vetting process involves me getting the recommendation from a trusted source that already knows the individual. Outside of the hard skills such as tactics, physical prowess, martial arts, etc., communication and etiquette are very high on the list of the type I want to employ or recommend. That’s pretty straight forward, so imagine how I feel with someone try and hits me with the magic word, CIGSW? Is that supposed to be some form of post-hypnotic suggestion? Chances are it’s just coming from a place of “not thinking,” but the problem is I want THINKERS on my team.

In all of my Keeping Your Edge columns in this magazine, I try and give Protectors something to noodle and reflect on. I try and do this from a place of, “here’s a path to developing (or maintaining) successful traits that bring longevity in this industry.” With the exception of a few Super Ninja’s, at some point or another everyone needs a jumpstart or a helping hand, let’s just make sure we do not poison the well with CIGSW before the conversation truly begins, and lets leave the magic words to the magicians.

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