Getting into and managing yourself in the industry can be daunting. Whether training to obtain or hone skills, looking for that first assignment or managing a team, your attitude and approach to the work is everything. How do you know if you are even on the path? Stoic philosopher Marcus Arelius wrote, “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” With mindset forward most in mind, here are six constants to ensure you’re in it for the long haul and focused on achievement:
I – You’re Interested
Being in the protection industry means you need to maintain a wide study of many areas. Not only news, but business and tactical trends. Because you are forward leaning, you have a routine that allows for time to understand the world(s) you work in and want to be involved in.
II – You’re Diversified
In this game, there are no one-trick-ponies. Being interested also means being diverse. Opinions about strategies and tactics can be polarizing (a quick search on social media shows this). However, you look at things with a fresh set of eyes, understanding you need to be wary of your own bias before jumping to any conclusions. While operations are similar, they are very rarely the same and our approaches to and the way we conduct them (although influenced by history) should strive to be customized accordingly.
III – You’re Disciplined
The adage reminds us that, “Slow is Smooth. Smooth is Fast.” You know this and embody it. You approach vector is never haphazard but well thought and intentioned to reduce risk and promote opportunity.
IV – You’re Positive
Things aren’t always going to go the way you planned: an opportunity to adapt. People are going to let you down: an opportunity to see who else is hungry. You may fail: an opportunity to learn. In other words, you have a mindset that understands negativity exists but isn’t enveloped by it. While not a Pollyanna, you step back and look at things with a fresh set of eyes whenever you can, always thanking and giving gratitude for those who are also on the path and have assisted you on your own journey.
V – You’re Healthy
Physiological ability is part of this game. You are taking time to ensure you unplug and that you have the functional capability to move and to be ready for opportunity and any action required.
VI – You’re Humble
Everyone’s a hero in their own mind and quite happy to talk about it, right? Wrong. You are quiet and confident, staying true to yourself and others who are also the path.
Dwayne Johnson reminds us to, “Be humble. Be Hungry. And always be the hardest worker in the room.” He’s right! You are on the path and therefore have zero time for the broscience of hobbyguards. It’s not about likes or luck… it’s about the relentless pursuit of the protector’s path, striving to be better today than yesterday. That’s you.
That’s it. Stay True. Be Humble. Keep Your Head Down!
Was just talking to a good friend and fellow vet about this show. It got me thinking about this blog. Decided to re-post it. Long Live Classic Magnum PI!
In December of 1980, the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) gave us a series that ran for eight seasons. Based in the Hawaiian Islands and starring Tom Selleck, Magnum P.I. focused on a veteran who, after returning from the Vietnam War,who came to live and “work” as a private investigator/security consultant.
Ostensibly, the show was about Magnum’s escapades as an investigator and security consultant who often could be seen coercing/ teaming up with his best friends Ric, TC and (arguably) Higgins to sort out the problem-of-the-week. While it could be occasionally goofy, Magnum P.I. received accolades for its portrayal of veterans and, on occasion, how it dealt with hard issues.
“I know what you’re thinking…” Why bring it up here? What does this have to do with leadership? Actually, I think there are a few observations about the fictional Thomas Sullivan Magnum and his stalwart band of companions with which we…
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While the idea of digital transformation has many concerned, there are opportunities within the protection industry which should have any practitioner excited for their prospects to assist in and support detail management and risk mitigation.
Two emerging ideas worth discussing are those of Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence/Machine learning:
Augmented Reality (AR)
In 1968 Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull teamed together and created a head mounted display they called, “The Sword of Damocles.” (TM, 2019). Although cumbersome and bulky, it displayed computer graphics over a worn display. Flashing forward we have witnessed the AR phenomenon of people huddled around a street corner or a park fountain to catch a Pokémon or virtually placing piece of furniture in their home to see what it might look like. Protection work is predicated on the idea of advance work. In considering the concentric rings around a protective operation, the work done in the outer loops to prepare is crucial to ensuring risks and black swans are planned for – consider AR.
When writing about use cases, Forbes Magazine contributor Bernard Marr stated, “With AR solutions, [tourism] agents and destinations can give visitors more information and signposts to their destinations.” (Marr, 2019). Consider the possibilities of using applications to support advance work and AR’s benefits as practitioners don or use a device to identify what the route would look like during a special event, understand and setup ‘virtual’ checkpoints for convoy operations, mark evacuation routes and ultimately manage a common information space (CIS) between the ground team and a reach-back function.
On the ground, when coupled with a reach-back, the prospects for AR could mean taking the idea of force multiplication to the next level. Point of view overlays, medical information, real time traffic and/or advance warning, etc. It all adds up and allows a CIS to be overlaid where it is most needed to support operations.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
Teams and individuals are collecting more data than ever. Operations managers, Agents, Surveillance Detection Teams, Drivers, etc. are amassing a large amount of open and ambient data. In lieu of going into a data warehouse or lake, it is left at rest and uneasily accessed for synthesis, lessons learned and other back-of-house operations. As is, it is not useful or useless for future operations and planning as it lays mired in an information bog. New capabilities however allow us to harness and marshal our data for placement and consumption into our own predictive systems. Thru a supervised learning process, our structures can learn, understand and forecast activities or issues we may have based on the inputs ingested from earlier operations.
“Supervised machine learning algorithms can apply what has been learned in the past to new data using labeled examples to predict future events. Starting from the analysis of a known training dataset, the learning algorithm produces an inferred function to make predictions about the output values.” (Expert Systrem Team, 2019)
Say you have an upcoming detail and your protective intelligence framework now includes some type of machine augmented process by which prior Issues of Interest (IOI), known logistics and other administrative topics (i.e. safe zones) pre-populate in order to help the operational planner focus, based on context from past actions. Ultimately, we want to be able to home in on the most important part of any detail; planning, risk mitigation and execution.
These concepts combine to help create a better protective system as practitioners and those who support them have a broadly shared view “…sensors, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and predictive policing are also starting to contribute. These can provide a much wider and more accurate real-time common operating picture across the response team, enabling commanders to deploy their resources faster, more efficiently and with greater precision,” (Atkinson, 2019). But just as (and maybe even more) important in the digital age is the common information space (CIS). Confusion leads to operational fog and that leads to potentially dangerous issues which has detrimental effects to the detail. Working from a CIS fueled by digital transformation will allow protectors to streamline, focus and force multiple their efforts. We are at the cusp of an emergence in the protection world that will see more hybrid activities manifesting in the digital environment.
What are you seeing on the horizon?
Atkinson, J. (2019, April 2). Critical Communications Today. Retrieved from criticalcomms.com: http://www.criticalcomms.com/features/situational-awareness-first-responders-police-video-analytics-machine-learning-ai-vr
Expert Systrem Team. (2019, Apr 15). Expert System. Retrieved from expertsystem.com: https://www.expertsystem.com/machine-learning-definition/
Marr, B. (2019, Mar 1). Forbes. Retrieved from Forbes.com: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2019/03/01/the-10-best-real-world-examples-of-augmented-reality/#d559da642d81
TM. (2019, April 9). thinkmobiles.com. Retrieved from Think Mobile: https://thinkmobiles.com/blog/what-is-augmented-reality/
The Protective Security Industry has gained more visibility over the last 5 years than it ever has. From the generic “protector” label the industry now spans multiple slices and requires those working inside have a higher level of acumen, operational mindset and intellectual stamina. With an idea to promote the interests and professionalization of the close protection trade, the International Protective Security Board (IPSB) was formed as a non-profit in 2016.
Focusing on raising awareness, providing education and developing the industry, the IPSB culminates its yearly activities at the annual, “Close Protection Conference.” This two-and-a-half-day event brings protectors from all over the globe together to share best practices and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs).
As a founding member, I’ve been involved in setting the agenda and ensuring attendees receive the most relevant information to help promote and professionalize their capabilities. The IPSB was crafted to help understand and drive positive change. Personally, it’s been exciting to see the content change and grow, as the industry grows.
Managed entirely by volunteers, this year’s conference included a keynote by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) Director, Jared Maples. A world-wide intelligence briefing started the day and there was an interview with a close protection provider who managed to evacuate a protectee during an attempted ambush overseas.
Panel discussions on developing practitioners, how to prepare a post incident playbook, interviewing persons of interest, international operations, celebrity protection, working with large sporting events and divergent protective operations were spread out over two days. The event also provided multiple networking opportunities as a well as a career fair and a special event for women in the protective industry.
The program is no longer about all things tactical. It has evolved to a place where topics range from subjects such as legal ramifications and compliance issues to diversity and agent development. Today’s practitioner has evolved beyond the bullet catcher, they are much, much more and this conference promotes all of it. I’m proud to be part of helping this evolution and amazed at all those who work in this field and give their time to help educate each other. The multi-national company I work for continues to be a, “learn it all organization” and the IPSB fits directly into that “Growth Mindset.”
I’m always humbled by the amount of people who take time out of their schedules to join and participate. Interacting with seasoned and brand-new practitioners is a great way to start the end of the calendar year and get excited for new opportunities during the next.
Hope to see you next year!
If you are a protector, you are wedded to the warrior path. You may not call it this as it seems fashionable to downplay this aspect of the industry; but you are. Whether you are new or old-in-the-tooth, these “BEs” should unwaveringly be part of your DNA:
I – Be honest about your abilities
Master Sun Tzu stated, “Know thy self, know thy enemy.” First and foremost to that is knowing you. Realizing your strengths and ensuring you maintain them is as important as the truthful conversation you have with yourself about your weakness’. Ignoring fallacy and only focusing on strengths is a path that starts with excuses and laziness; It is not one for you.
II – Be tireless in your pursuit
Every day is both a challenge and a reset as you relentlessly pursue the disciplined path. Will you stumble… yes. Will you achieve success…yes. Will you be tested… ever moment! In this quest, no one cares who is first, it is who gets after it each and every day that matters. Even in the face of defeat, the one who gets up laughing and says, “is that all you have got” is the one to watch. Because you see, it’s not a race to be first, it’s a marathon that never ends. And along the path, one continuingly finds themselves and their calling.
III – Be true to your actions
Warriors should be warriors; unabashedly so and proud. Not arrogant, but confident in their calling. Quiet professionalism is not hiding who one is nor is it being braggadocios, it is merely being that calm problem solver who is the eye of the storm.
IV – Be steadfast in your relations
“Greatness is the amount of time you were able to invest into cultivating your ground,” Sunday Adelaja. Your network is your life. Like a garden, it must be cultivated every day. Weeds take form and insidiously take root. Beware of them and take time to remove them lest they take over and rot what you have sown.
V – Be voracious in your learning
Every day is a chance to learn and expand. This should include many things and not just those of martial background. Being a protector means being polymathic in your interests. Education does not equate to having a degree, it equates to having a curious appetite and feeding yourself, daily.
VI – Be balanced in all things
A life of always being on the edge is not the path. It is an illusion of readiness which will ultimately lead to burn out and falling from the path. It is not the way. In our work, we use time and energy toward the protection of something else. It is therefore important to devote a certain amount of energy towards protecting and caring for those who support us, and also ourselves. In this, we are reminded of why we chose the path and for whom we are ultimately on it for.
VII – Be disciplined in, “the way”
Every day without fail we must be resolute to these principles (and others). If we fall, get back up and start anew. This is what truly sets us apart, for it is progress that is our mark and no other creature’s. “Weakness is strong. I must be stronger,” Jocko Willink.
In 2016, the founder of The World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, suggested we were at the beginnings of what he coined “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” (Shwab, 2016). The latest industrial revolution is an amalgamation of the technological and physical with implications beyond the immediate industries involved. Schwab stated, “The Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country” (Shwab, 2016).
As Schwab suggests, this has been a disruptive factor across all sectors of industry. We have and will continue to witness the evolution of existing threat vectors and the creation of new ones. Regardless, this should give pause to leaders within the corporate security community who must examine the potential impacts of these threats while continuing to manage their own group’s transformative pathways and staying relevant to their industries. As the company and business change, so then does the work of security leaders and the business of security.
Here are three issues for consideration:
Corporations as a Geopolitical Entity
Companies have been affected by politics, and history contains examples of corporate entities engaging on the geopolitical stage. Historically, the South American Chaco War (and corporate involvement) brought us the important Supreme Court case United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. that helped define the powers of the executive branch as the main conductor of foreign affairs (oyez, 2018). More recently, corporations have felt the effects from polarizing political events, both domestic and foreign. Most notably, Facebook (FB) has come under scrutiny, being asked to defend its ability to mitigate issues involving foreign tampering as well as issues with data privacy, squarely placing it on the geopolitical stage.
Typically, companies choose to remain mostly neutral, openly preferring the calculations over profit-and-loss in lieu of issues involving power politics. But, the fourth disruption has brought us further into an interconnected world. A recent study suggests political risk is at a marked increase because of this interconnectedness. Through the power of technology, geopolitical activities which would be seen playing out over months now move “at the speed of social media” (West, 2018).
Activities thought to drive profits now have unintended consequences that are played out in the political and social media arenas, having lasting effects on the bottom line. Often this will occur unintentionally, but the politicization of much of our discourse has added social conflict to previous untouched areas. Whether at the behest of the company or not, the enterprise is more involved by great power politics than ever . Facebook’s monetization of data is standard for the industry as social media is free for the user, but this threw the company into the issue of privacy rights in the US and beyond. A simple calculation over profits cascaded into mass controversy. Even the recent debate over gun control created this problem. Delta lost 40 million USD in tax credits in Georgia because they ended their ties with the NRA in an attempt to side with their customers.
Once partitioned to a shadowy world, this idea of inform-and-influence activities coupled with cyberspace actions mean both large and small state actors can harness and produce similar effects towards adversaries, both real and perceived. Whether from interference during elections via misinformation and influence activities or cyber-attacks on multi-national corporations deemed unworthy, this new state of play suggests corporations have and will be on the same battle ground traditionally reserved for state-to-state activities . Writing for the Cipher Brief, Lieutenant Commander Robert Bebber suggests the following:
“Cyberspace is an entirely new strategic environment, one which has important distinctions from the traditional domains of land, sea, air, and space. Questions of sovereignty are ambiguous at best in cyberspace. The domain cannot be segmented into a military sphere and civilian sphere in ways that we do in traditional areas like land, sea, or air. One cannot declare a “war zone” in cyberspace for example” (Bebber, 2018).
Not just state actors, either. Disruptive groups whose causes may vary from criminal to extremism have continued to embrace technology for their own use, exposing and exploiting gaps.
And what happens if bad actors should set up parameters and then let ‘machine learning’ decide when to act, based on the environment and conditions. Jason Healy of the Atlantic Council states, “we should begin the real debate of whether and when our cyber weapons should make their own decisions about when to destroy on our behalf” (Healey, 2013). The physical aspects of a cyber based attack could play out in real time, offering a myriad of hybrid issues for both Chief Security Officers (CSO) and Chief Information Security Officers (CISO), alike.
Great Power Politics in the Digital Age
This virtual shadowy cold conflict (unlike its historical cousin, which played out in the real world) is far less resource intensive. With the ability to further bury one’s self within multiple layers, non-state actors and state adversaries can (and are) manifesting actions which have direct and indirect effects to a corporation. “Deterrence does not apply in a space where adversaries are conducting long-term, persistent campaigns – especially campaigns ‘operating below the threshold of military conflict…cloaked in deniability” (Bebber, 2018).
Congress attempted to help corporations in this issue with the introduction of the Hack Back bill that would allow corporations to go after hackers. However, this would privatize national security and law enforcement in a way not seen before, which might be necessary because of a lack of a “war zone.” In addition, the ability for attacks to conceal their origins and identities makes protective intelligence and counter-intelligence extremely difficult.
What’s required to manage risk in this fourth revolution, from a leader’s perspective? Security leaders need to accept the world we live in is now has moved beyond the traditional 3G (Guns, Guards and Gates) environment to encompass the 4G (Guns, Guards, Gates, and Gigabytes).
This means more interactions within areas we would not traditionally parlay into lines of business that include (but not limited to) areas such as; cyber, legal and/or finance.
Corporate and Risk Threat Intelligence teams have more in common than traditionally thought. Increased discourse among all relevant parties is necessary to detect anomalous behavior.
Multinationals are subject to a host of international regulations ranging from privacy and data security to sanctions compliance. It’s important for security leadership to understand what those are and how they could affect corporate activity in each area, including everything from business travel risk to due diligence efforts as a result of government sanctions.
The 10k risk report (or the private corporations equivalent) is a document each leader should study and promote within their own organization. In addition to financials, it essentially states what top risks the board (or corporate leadership) is concerned with and what their particular business interests are. This helps not only give direction for a coordinated response, but also helps drive scenario-based intelligence which can both create pathways and open doors for deeper conversations at the senior leadership level.
Connections with our traditional networks must continue to grow and strengthen. As risks manifest at an increasing rate, our information sharing and response times must improve.
Public-private partnerships rooted in information sharing traditionally focus on critical infrastructure. What is required now is the same “all source” approach to identifying and notifying of threats, especially when the digital layer is added. Having an “all defenders” approach will cast a wider net as well as reduce gap time from the 2nd and 3rd orders of effects stemming from hybrid activity.
Our relationships within this risk information sharing vehicle must mature, as the landscape does. National security threats to the government and state economy are also threatening to multi-national corporations. For example, North Korea has attempted to hack other governments in support of their interests, but they used the same technology to go after Sony for insulting their leader.
Embrace Digital Transformation
By embracing the 4th disruption and its related technologies, corporate security organizations can focus on their primary roles while reducing noise through automation and the digitization of their business processes. Director for Defense Intelligence Jack Shanahan suggests letting “the tech do the rote work, so humans can do what they do best” (Williams, 2017).
Digital transformation augments your current systems, people, and processes with a digital layer, allowing your best and brightest to focus on the core tasks of life/safety and the ancillary tasks of risk management. As Schwab states, “[B]usiness leaders and senior executives need to understand their changing environment, challenge the assumptions of their operating teams, and relentlessly and continuously innovate” (Shwab, 2016).
The 4th disruption may present challenges, but it also encourages innovation that can (and likely will) lead to greater abilities to see and defend against threats. As leaders, our jobs are to continue to educate ourselves and embrace transformation. Old ways may still be applicable, but we need to constantly challenge and drive ourselves (and our teams) towards approaching them with a new optic.
Our leadership must evolve, too. Generating clarity and driving innovation is our task along with continued sharing of best practices and lessons learned to help defend and deter though dissemination. Fortunately, many are up to the task and seek to learn from and work through the very issues noted, herein.
Bebber, R. (2018, April 1). The Cipher Brief. Retrieved from thecipherbrief.com: https://www.thecipherbrief.com/column/strategic-view/no-thing-cyber-deterrence-please-stop?utm_source=Join+the+Community+Subscribers&utm_campaign=1ffbf75823-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_04_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_02cbee778d-1ffbf75823-122526325&mc_cid=1ffbf
Healey, J. (2013, Apr 16). Huff Post. Retrieved from Huffington Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-healey/stuxnet-cyberwarfare_b_3091274.html
Oyez, United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation. – 299us304 (Supreme Court April 7, 2018). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1900-1940/299us304
Shwab, K. (2016, Jan 14). World Economic Forum. Retrieved from weforum.org: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond/
West, R. D. (2018, Mar). The CEO as a Geopolitical Officer. Retrieved from kpmg.com: kpmg.com/geopolitical
Williams, L. (2017, Nov 2). FCW: The Business of Federal Technology. Retrieved from FCW.com: https://fcw.com/articles/2017/11/02/shanahan-maven-usaf-ai.aspx
please note: comments herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any organization he is involved with.
Culture is more important than anything
It is the single most important element that any leader should obsess upon. It is created and exists even if you don’t think about it. Culture affects everything from esprit-de-corps to productivity. It’s also vitally important to gauge and ensure you and your key leaders are aligned as to how you are defining what it is and what you value, within your group.
As a leader, you are responsible for the culture of the team. It’s hard to shape and maintain and even harder to get back on track, once misaligned.
Everything is Phase 0 (shaping)
Words and Deeds have meaning, and problems occur when these things do not align. You and your leaders must strive to ensure you, “do what you say and say what you do.” Deviations of your ‘true north’ (no matter how small) create ripple effects amongst the greater team. In this regard, the team redefines the zeitgeist of the organization constantly… and usually when leadership is not around.
So – be certain you are matching what you want as culture to any actions as leaders.
Three-Dimensional Thinking is a Leader’s Prime Directive
When an opportunity presents itself (good, bad or indifferent) the first questions should always be, “should we keep doing the same thing…the same way.” Always stop and ask yourself, “What are other ways we can achieve” or “How can we refine the way this is done?” Even if the end-state is no change, thinking the issue through this way and forcing the conversation amongst your leadership is key to developing a growth mindset and instilling your cultural values.
If nothing else, remember you and your key leaders are stewards of your organization and company. Have full faith, respect and trust in your folks to, as Norman Schwarzkopf said, “Do what’s right” and hold the line on maintaining the culture of the organization.
How do you think about and develop culture within your own group?