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How to level up….easily…

Riyadh 2010 (24)It’s 2230 hours somewhere in East Asia. The principal has finally gone to sleep and you have put her chief of staff to bed, as well as the two folks from the communications division that tagged along on the trip.  You’re in your room mulling over the schedule for the next day because the local branch of the company has made some changes to the schedule and the boss approved.  Satisfied that you have an understanding, you decide to get some sleep.  As you get ready for bed, you hear something going on outside the window, most likely down in the entryway. You think “Radio” but then realized they are not allowed in this country for foreign teams. Texting your partner, they indicate they are trying to get your local support on the phone.

Quickly running options, you say, “Get the cars around to the side checkpoint and call me back in 5 minutes.” Pulling on your polo and grabbing your small bugout bag the hotel phones rings. It’s the principal. She wants to know if your tracking all this. You calmingly state you are and that she needs to stay put, you’re coming to her. She asks about the staff. You say they should be in their rooms and she replies the last thing they told her was that they were going to the lobby bar for a nightcap. She wants you to organize everyone into her suite and hangs up the phone. As you’re moving you pick up the cell and call your #2 thinking, this detail just got a lot more complex…

What do you do? How would you plan? What contingencies are running through your mind? Are there any locals you can call? What’s my network like? Can we make it to our safe zone? Why did they go get a nightcap when you told them not to?


Understanding the experiences from incidents and trials others have had helps us plan our own details and future contingencies.  The aim of the International Protective Security Board (IPSB) is to spark these types of exchanges thru education and networking activities. Building a positive and deeply rich extended group of contacts is helpful. At times, I have needed everything from language support on a person of interest who popped up (long story) to suddenly having to change out an entire local provider at the last minute (more long stories).

Come meet up with other fellow practitioners and share stories, break bread, extend friendships and engage in new professional contacts. We are going to have a full range of speakers and will be covering a wide range of issues, from tactical to the strategic.  I’m personally excited to see the new tac-talks that are coming.

This is an event by practitioners, for practitioners. It doesn’t matter what school or group you came or work with… this is our industry’s time to come together. Mount up and come be part of the conversation this December 2nd and 3rd in Vegas!



~Chuck Randolph

July 2016

Priorities and Requirements: a Primer for Leaders

Show up. Chat with co-workers. Perform tasks. Respond to emails. Work on a Project X, Y or Z. Make Phone calls. Attend to tasks. Have a cup of coffee. Scan internet. Put it to bed…wake up, rinse and repeat.

Every day, people everywhere perform and repeat this pattern, or something similar to this.  It’s not a bad thing.  Come in, do work, socialize a bit, eat, do more things and then call it a day.  Every once-in-a-while things get taken home or the occasional early/late meeting is attended to account for an international colleague.  Generally, we know this as work…  and it is, for most. – It is a requirement.

Riyadh 2010 (24)

contemplate your team’s priorities.


You…you, however, are a leader.  Those tactical things I just referred to as “requirements,” they are items we are expected to perform and they make up the reason that we were brought on in the first place.  Ensuring mission planning is done, making sure we have met our weekly plans, attending meetings and reporting out on activity, etc. etc.  These are activities that, while a major motion for a lot of our team, make up one part of what we as managers (or leaders) must execute on.

Mentoring, thinking, tasking, tracking, advising, spending time and strategizing…these are activities which drive us as leaders.  They are the things we need to get done in order to move our organization forward.

They map to larger ideals like:

  • Culture Change
    • Reinforce a climate of communications, collaboration and innovation that creates a “bias-for-action”
  • Knowledge Management
    • Establish an environment to capture/refine/share organizational knowledge
  • Strategic Business Planning
    • Thoughtful, deliberate, timely and cost-effective decisions
  • Cross-Functional Alignment  
    • Improve overall efficiency through coordination and synchronization

It’s daunting.  When we were hired to be an agent or analyst it was fairly simple to show up, do the list, move on to the next item and check that block…MAKE A DOUGHNUT.  Now we have to do that and more… MANAGE AN EXPERIENCE.  It’s because we have a higher sense of responsibility to feed, manage and take care of this beast that we own. –  It is our priority.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once said, “If you’re going to do a job… do a job.”  Simply put, he was explaining to be a part of something, you need to be all in.  You need to give of and beyond yourself by… doing the deep work.

That’s the thing, though.  What is my j-o-b?  Your job is to help conceive strategy, be thoughtful and deliberate, to understand your line of effort, listen and, above all else, take care of your people.  After all, they are the ones fulfilling the requirements as we work on our organization’s main priorities.

Intelligence Analyst – Five things your boss is thinking but may not tell you: TWO is surprising and FIVE is vital

1 – I’m also a critical thinker, I just may not use the same vocabulary as you

Hey, I may not use the same language, but I’m also analytical (I may just not realize it).  By doing operational analysis, I’m developing courses of action (COAs) and making mission assumptions based on the facts in front of me.  When on an operation or in an emergency, I’ll be using what I have gathered and developing COAs based on pre-thought scenarios and trends that are manifesting.  Just like you, I’m a critical thinker; please, remind me of that from time-to-time.

2 – I need you to help me, help you, to help me

Your request for information (RFI) process may not be the same one that I am familiar with.  I also may not fully understand how to ask for what I need or am unsure of what you can do.  Therefore, I need you to take the lead in this dance .  Show me what you’ve got and suggest we walk through the operations plan (OPLAN) together.  When we do that, listen and ask questions.  As an operator, I may not care about the form you need filled out, I do need your insight and keen eye towards pattern analysis to see something I don’t.  Honestly, I need you to be my partner and educate to develop me.

3 – Sometimes, I need you to slow down

You can get excited, I get it (and I like that about you). But, if I’m excited and your excited and we are all excited….well, I need you to be the one to slow down and make sure we are paying attention to detail and managing the little things which always come up in the form of Mr. Murphy – and his damnable law.  Offer up some advice, ensure you stuff is double-checked before you hit send and be that calming voice .  I’ve got a lot going on and sometimes I may just need to see someone being outwardly steadfast.

4 – You don’t have a crystal ball, I know that… let me know what you think anyway

I get it, you’re not 100%.  Guess what, neither am I.  I don’t need you to be all knowing (although, secretly I wish you were). I just need you to give me the best understanding you have and say the same.  If it doesn’t go down the way you describe, I may get cranky…but I don’t blame you (I’m probably blaming myself).  No one expects the black swan’s arrival, but I need you to tell me when you think conditions may be right for impending issues.

Finally, and most important…

5 – I trust you

From the mundane to the insane, you’re my go-to! I may always not say it, but you are.  I have a healthy trust in your abilities.  This is why I ask you to brief first, set the tone and put a ‘realistic’ filter on what’s happening.  The interwebs opened up a whole new meaning to the concept of ‘breaking news ‘and I can’t always be sure they affect our situation.  I know you have my back, you understand my needs, and will tell me what’s important in the din.  Because you’re intelligent, professional, curious and thoughtful… I trust you.

this is dedicated to the my favorite analysts…

A Quick Thought For Leaders Trying to Be Strategic…

Educate To Develop” and “Delegate To Develop“-  two principals to embrace in your efforts to be more strategic.

Give guidance, direction and intent.  Fight the urge to do it all.  Remember, empowering five people to do five things is just as important (if not more) as one person who tries to micro-manage everything.


WP_20140724_19_19_31_Raw 2

Take time to explain your objectives

How To L.E.A.D!

Here are four quick thoughts to help you, Oh Leader, think and set your course…after all, leaders need to L-E-A-D!

L – Light the Path

Set the course. Stop and think about where your organization is going. What does your group/team look like in 12 months, 18 months or 24 months? As much as you want and like to be in the trenches with the troops (c’mon… I know you do) your job is to set tone and expectation. Be honest with yourself, are you doing this? If not…. Right now write down…”In 12 months, my group will be [fill in your vision here]!” Make a few notes on what projects or things might be needed to get you there and you have mini strategy session going down…well done!

E – Educate to Develop

Guess what leader… people know you have what it takes. Teach someone else and watch them figure it out. Building your leaders, builds your bench and builds resiliency. Sometimes it sucks…you want to be that tactical person who is seen as “checking all those blocks.” Leaders however, should be thinking three dimensionally.   Teach your crew to cook, don’t just hand them a lunchable.

A – Accept Your Place

Being in charge…it “aint so easy.” While fulfilling, it can be lonely and tough. Not everything you do will be understood, initially accepted or liked; do it anyway. Sometimes your folks may not appreciate you; care anyway. Be the person you want them to be. As the boss, you need to know when to back away and let the team be the team. You’re needed, but your presence may not always be required. Get over yourself and get on with it. Being the leader is best judged in those moments when honor, candor and hard decisions need to happen. Be the person you envision.

D – Delegate to Develop

Once you have you have sorted some of the above, it’s time to pass out some work. Give your team some assignments. Make sure they understand the task condition, standards and intent. Encourage them to ask clarifying questions; be patient and thoughtful in this. Once you have done this “GET OUT OF THEIR WAY” and give them a chance to sort it out. Trust me….if you have picked the right folks and empowered them… they will come to you if they need some help. Guide your group in their quest. Likely, you’re finding yourself in this journey, too.

Thoughtful Leadership is what's required for today's manager

Thoughtful Leadership is what’s required

Security As A 4G Environment

For many years security operated in a 3G environment. This concept of ‘Guns, Gates and Guards’ were the three legs of the chair on which physical security sat. Perched and monitoring for nefarious activity, practitioners surveyed the landscape with a keen eye on all they could see or physically interact with. This traditional model was best suited to an operational schema that focused on managing threats that manifested themselves in “traditional” fashions; threats existing in a physical space could be comprehended and interacted with accordingly. Subsequently, Security Intelligence reporting was focused on traveler threat briefs, kidnap, crime statistics and extremist activities.

In the periphery, the concept of what we now call “cyber-security” was evolving and growing in both risk, response and relevance. Hackers and IT-based attacks, while present, were generally less prevalent and sequestered to the inside pages of the newspaper. In 2007 the world watched as Estonian financial and government sectors were ravaged by a cyber-onslaught which was deemed to be the work of Russian hackers. Subsequently, MacAfee, the computer security firm, indicates there was new malware introduced every 15 minutes in the year 2010. By 2013, new bots, bugs, rootkits, spyware, Trojan horses, etc., were being introduced every second. Growing parallel to this threat vector was an exponential increase in available data and information made possible by the spread of access to the internet and migration into the cloud. This shift has been both an intensely exciting and frightening time for individuals, corporations and nation states.

Corporate Security organizations are evolving, too. Recognizing that each threat is no longer exclusive, IT and physical security sectors are aligning, intersecting and interacting in a 4G world; ‘Guns, Gates, Guards AND Gigabytes.’ Security Intelligence monitoring and reporting has also matured in the 4G environment. Insider threats, phishing and hacktivism now share the same rail of reporting that was traditionally held by geopolitics, transnational crime and terrorism.

Companies abilities to track, monitor and mitigate threats will also continue. Efforts within information tracking continue in fusion as we open news seats at the sharing table in order to do our part to keep people, facilities and intellectual property safe within this ever growing reality.

What will the 5G environment resemble? Only William Gibson knows:

We have no future because our present is too volatile. We have only risk management. The spinning of the given moment’s scenarios. Pattern recognition.”

~ William Gibson


Bodyguards and Functional Fitness: Why practitioners should care about how they move

Let’s step away from the strategic for a moment and discuss a base level issue which affects everything we do… health and fitness. Realizing many may have already decided to “swipe left” and move on to another spot, I’m asking you give 3-5 minutes.


“In all forms of strategy, it is necessary to maintain the combat stance in everyday life and to make your everyday stance your combat stance. You must research this well.” – Miyamoto Musashi

When you boil it down, practitioners lives’ can be pretty mundane with occasional boughs of adrenal rushes brought on by unknown risks or complex problems manifesting in the most unexpected moments. Not ever having our heart rate up around the 175 beats and trying to perform means in an actual situation our cognizant senses will begin to give way to basic muscle movements. We are told, from day one to “keep it on a swivel” and to cherish mottos like the US Coast Guard’s, “semper paratus.” A bodyguard is made to; plan-and-wait-and-go-and-wait-and-go-really-fast-and-wait, well you get the picture. Between the waiting and going, are periods of foraging for food and trying to find some moments to either energize or get some rest. Easily sustainable for a short amount of time, but over the long haul, the toll is felt. Keeping your health up often becomes a, “if I get to it.”

What do we mean…fitness?

When I say fitness, I’m not talking about working out to star in the next Expendables, here. What we need to understand is training and health for the daily rigors of life and the job or a functional fitness. The former thought is both untenable and not germane to the job of protection.

So, with this idea of a functional fitness what is it that Close Protection Agents do on a routine basis? Top of mind – but not limited to is:

  • Stand (Halls and walls people!!)
  • Sit (Surveillance Detection anyone?!?!?!)
  • Lift/Hold (Heavy-ish) Objects (ever put your buddies gear or a starlet’s luggage in the rig)
  • Sprint (with a principal’s briefcase or managing the designate through a spontaneous riot)
  • Jog (anyone who has ever worked with a principal who is a runner just groaned)

While I’m certain we could come up with many more basic ideas of what we do (some could be specific to your particular detail) we can agree these are basic elements that make up or job ~ hell, they look like a lot of other jobs, too.


Make it an adventure

Several years ago, my team performed an experiment; we decided it was time to “re-learn” how to work out. Many in the group being former military, the observation being what instruction we received may have been arguably good for [soldier X] it was not necessarily a good for our jobs in close protection, ages (yup, said it) and overall lifestyle. As a result, we arranged training through a local CrossFit gym (aka a box) to learn/re-learn how to do functional lifting, cardiovascular and functional routines. For the next three months, the majority of the team went to a weekly class worked out between the instructor and our team. While there was CrossFit type activities involved, we were clear our goal was on learning the right way as opposed to the rigorous workout of the day (WODs) associated with this style of fitness.  Over the weeks and as we progressed, this idea of functional fitness really became highlighted as the way forward.

It’s about getting strong, durable, and relentless in simple, old-school ways that a man can train, test, and measure.” – Daniel Duane “Everything You Know About Fitness Is A Lie

Put the F(itness) in Function

Putting together a personal program which supports the primary aspects of our job is key. Most would suggest you always start with a baseline that begins with working with your doctor to understand where you stand. I’ll leave that to you and hope you choose a medical practitioner who understands your job and is a forward leaner when it comes to things like fitness and nutrition. Let’s assume you do this already; how do you get towards a routine that supports the function?

Our above list suggests we need to have a program that allows us to lift, pull, and perform at a decent cardiovascular level and sprint. Basically, a routine that encompasses:

  • [Weight] Lifting / Strength Training (Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength)
  • Plyometric Activities (Jump around…Jump around!!!)
  • Stretching (Namaste, people!)
  • Cardiovascular (the Slog)
  • High Intensity Training (intervals, sprints, breathing hard activities)

Make your routine about these things. I would suggest if you’re heading into the gym and the only thing you’re pumping out is a massive chest and biceps, try getting on a treadmill and running for 45 minutes – better yet – go outside! Conversely, if you are the marathoner… get into the gym and focus on some deadlifts or kettlebell swings. And both of you should incorporate some pull-ups, step ups or box-jumps.

My point being, examine where you are and what you’re trying to get out of it for the job. Take your ego out of the picture and look at it from a strict “I need to do ____ to do this job.”

While I remain a fan of the spirit of CrossFit, it’s important to note there should be a line (albeit thin) between the two terms. CrossFit has grown into a pretty massive industry. And while I think these athletes are amazing, functional fitness remains a very base level philosophy to me, wherein the executive protection industry is concerned. They are mutual, but I do not believe the two are exclusively so. In fact many functional type fitness efforts like movnat (Moving Naturally) or Tactfit (Tactical Fitness) are also beginning to make their presence known as well as the Phenom that has become Tony Horton’s P90X workouts.

Other Factors worth exploring

Eating Habit

This is probably the most important factor in maintaining your health (especially on the road). So many things written on this subject. Vinnie Tortorich’s idea of “No Sugar No Grain” is a good place to start if you have nowhere else to go. Another concept worth exploring is the free ranging “Paleo movement wherein eating “real foods” and not shirking off of protein is concerned. While I am not a doctor nor a dietician we all know in the middle of the night you sometimes have limited choices to refuel and grab three hours of sleep before you have to get back at it.  Honestly, if we know this is going to happen, we should plan for it. In the end, a little discipline and moderation won’t fail you.


A rapidly growing trend it reminds us that agents are athletes in our own right. While we aren’t going to making jump shots or running down the guy making a play for home plate, it doesn’t take a lot to imagine scenarios in which we must be able to move in a non-linear fashion. This requires we are limber and ready to explode those muscles. Also, we need the ability to keep moving after the moment and adrenaline have pumped out of our system while dealing with the rigors that the halls-and-walls routine takes on our bodies.


You’re laughing. I know it. More and more this idea of, as Tony Schwartz coined in The Power of Full Engagement, “energy management.” Your plan should include getting some down time. Even during a long detail, understanding when to shut off all the non-essentials to the detail and focus on relaxing and re-energizing is as important (maybe more so) than working out. Lack of sleep (over a period of time) does all kinds of things to you and has a distinct negative effect to you, tactically. Any fans of LTC Dave Grossman’s “On Combat” will agree.

We’re not meant to run at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time. Science tells us we’re at our best when we move rhythmically between spending and renewing energy — a reality that companies must embrace to fuel sustainable engagement and high performance.”– Tony Schwartz – The Energy Project

“Opera Non Verba”

This piece isn’t to say “what specifically to do”, but more about you getting outside of yourself. The most important factor is the point we take stock in where we are and what the endstate is for you and your team. It should be part of your operational and business plan… your routine.

Buds working out

Find someone to hold you accountable

You don’t need three hours a day in the gym to be functionally fit, either. Most of us are lucky to get 30 – 40 minutes of training. Make that count. Remember – sweat doesn’t equate results…results, results do. Focus on what you’re building and then, sustaining it. Here is my week. I often pair up with a teammate or a buddy for the interval training, too:

  • Monday – HIT Interval training (could be P90X3 or a WOD)
  • Tuesday – 3 to 5 mile run
  • Wednesday – Weight Training Circuit
  • Thursday – Interval Training/WOD
  • Friday –  HIT Interval Run and stretching or yoga
  • Saturday – Weight Circuit
  • Sunday – Walk or easy 3-5 mile jog (this is more about relaxation than anything)

Remember, we are talking about being a professional practitioner, if that bleeds into our personal life and makes us a better, parent, spouse, friend, etc. all the better. Please don’t fall into this trap of “I need to get fit to….get fit” either. The naked truth is this; bad guys don’t give a damned about your ego. In fact, they are counting on it to get in your way. That way, the day you need that extra seconds of speed… it will fail you.

We pride ourselves in honor and an uncanny ability to plan and maintain discipline. Shouldn’t our own health have the same protocols?

Keep your head down and get moving.