When I first received the invite from Executive Protection Institute (EPI), I must admit… I was very excited, absolutely honored and a little bit worried. I was excited because I’d only heard of these guys out there in the executive protection game as one of the two top schools in the industry. Based on all the conversations I had been part of up to this point Executive Protection Institute (EPI) and Executive Security International (ESI) were referred to as the Harvard and Yale of the executive protection training cadres. Unfortunately however I have had some negative experiences with training like many other agents and I was worried that maybe this world-renowned and much respected school had fallen into tradition or even dogma to the point that it’s relevancy may have faded over the years. My primary mode of learning when it comes to the executive protection industry had simply been on the job training for the most part. I got my first security detail right out of the Marine Corps at age 21 and didn’t go to my first school until I had already successfully conducted executive protection operations in over 60 countries and seven years later. Much of what I heard was being taught in classes and things I’d seen were not necessarily relevant to what I was seeing in the private security industry. Many things were very State Department centric rather than being private security centric with regards to techniques, tactics and the amount of agents present in the drills for moving principles. If in fact my experience at EPI was not positive then I simply wouldn’t say anything about the school either way publicly. However Executive Protection Institute far exceeded my expectations and opened my eyes to many things I had not yet seen in our beloved game of executive protection.

I cannot express the amount of appreciation and respect I have for the teaching cadre at the school. They all did such a fantastic job. They all came a crossed as very professional, very thoughtful, inspirational and genuine. You could tell that they deliberately created an environment that would foster learning. Everyone was held in high regard, well-respected and encouraged to ask questions. This deliberate positive environment made it possible for us to more easily digest, comprehend and retain the very intense and extremely high volume of information they presented to us daily. A day at this course started promptly at 8 AM and continued beyond 12 AM into one or two in the morning. As a military guy I was expecting them to bring out the stress monster just for kicks but they never did and I relax because I realized it wasn’t their way of teaching… I think it really truly helped me learn better.

They trained us on virtually every component and sub component imaginable on and around the subject of executive protection. Topics such as emotional intelligence, financial management, health and mindset were not overlooked. There were courses around both hard skills and soft skills during this 100 hour journey. The volume of information was so intense and the time we spent so high-quality but rigorous that it honestly felt like I had just done a detail with these guys on the road by the time the course was over. You get close to people you work next to and I must admit this felt like a little family by the time it was our turn to leave the classroom and go back out into the world.

This course didn’t only teach techniques and tactics for executive protection but also gave you an extremely accurate understanding of what it’s like to be on the job as an executive protection agent. This is one of the primary reasons I would recommend this course to anyone getting into the game. Many courses you go to may teach you the right techniques and tactics but you will leave there was no concept of what it’s really like to do the work. I had a hard time not saying amen to so many of the statement’s instructors made about how the real world works because the content was so relevant to how things are on the job. Because you get to learn from such an assortment of different instructors who are all operating at the top of their respective game either in the government or private security industry. There’s something for everyone to learn from this school no matter where you are in your private security career.

Beyond all of this you will become an alumni of the “Nine Lives Associates” if you graduate. The Nine Lives Association (NLA) is a special brotherhood of alumni who are committed to delivering a special kind of professional service. This membership and brotherhood widens the agents sphere of relationships and thus their opportunities also multiply as a result. There are NLA members also known as “cats” in many very high places all throughout the private security industry so it is an absolute honor and to be considered a very prestigious achievement to join our ranks upon graduation.

It has been a very long time since I had experience this feeling of family after training with anyone or any group and it was a beautiful thing to experience on graduation day at EPI. I came out of this course not only feeling in my heart but knowing in my mind that I am definitely going to perform at a higher level as a private security agent moving forward as a result of my time at this learning from this fine institution.

Special thanks to Mr. Jerry Heying for being such a fantastic industry leader and the many contributions he has made to the private security industry as a whole and future generations to come.

Key Considerations When Building Out Your Insider Risk Program

Is Insider Risk something new, or something we need to look at in a new way? Traditionally we have put in place measures to protect the perimeter, to control access into our buildings or our systems. Why did we do this? We saw the biggest risks and threats coming from external sources. In a “less connected” world this made perfect sense. We housed our assets and managed accordingly. However, the world has changed. We are more inter-connected than ever, and in many ways, we’ve optimized against the external threats. We have become experts in “perimeter” protection. We cannot rest and let down on the perimeter, however, the perimeter being the primary focus has left us vulnerable in many ways. This paper discusses how we design our internal controls, both in physical and system realms, as we evolve our understanding on where risks really exist, and how we believe people might behave. Employees stealing physical or confidential information from their company and/or place of work is not new, however, the complexity of the environment that we protect is no longer simple, and the stakes are high. Our reputation, our credibility, and in some cases the financial viability of these organizations are at stake.

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The Balancing Act Between Soft and Hard Skills:

EP MindsetWhat Every Executive Protection Pro Needs to Know

Security is a legitimate concern for politicians, celebrities and high-profile executives. These days, many turn to executive protection professionals to navigate threats and keep them out of harm’s way.

These protection agents come from diverse backgrounds; some have law enforcement or military experience, others do not.

Which should you consider when hiring? That depends on your preferences and beliefs. Clients may view those with military or law enforcement experience as overly aggressive, opting instead for a candidate who they assume will adopt a softer approach to their safety.

When it comes to personal protection, the best approach often includes a mix of the soft and hard, regardless of background. But it can be a delicate balancing act.

Practicing the art of avoidance  

Let’s review hard and soft skills to better understand the need for balance.

Some hard skills are obvious. Professional protectors must be physically able to protect the client and have the necessary training regarding firearms and defense to keep the client safe against immediate threats.

But they are more than just muscle. Protectors do everything in their power to avoid problems by conducting risk assessments and taking precautions or countermeasures to mitigate or limit exposure to especially harmful situations. We call this the “art of avoidance.”

For example, executive protection professionals routinely scout locations in advance to define optimal arrival and departure points and employ route analysis to minimize risks for vehicle and foot traffic. Preparation and planning trump brute force, which is often viewed and used as a last resort.

Another benefit to planning? The protector’s preparations can often maximize time for the benefit of the executive. Time for all of us is a valuable commodity, especially for those who require protection.

The priority, then, is to create a productive environment for the client to live and work safely, with a much-reduced need for the application of force. Strive to establish a clearly defined protection program focused on avoiding problems before they become problems. Doing this can even reduce liability.

Risk assessment, advance work, intelligence activities, surveillance detection, and physical security processes are just a few disciplines that may be defined as soft skills.  Qualified protection specialists are familiar with all of these, plus many more.

Don’t overlook the obvious 

There are other traits that are often overlooked but equally important. These so-called social skills include the ability to communicate effectively in both oral and written formats, and its importance should not be discounted. To know the audience and to communicate appropriately is essential. In many circumstances, a soft and pleasant tone as opposed to a gruff and authoritarian manner is the most effective means of communication.

The actions of the professional can affect the success of the protector/client relationship as well. Professional protectors work best when they are seen when needed, and not seen when they are not. The protector should strive to blend in around the client, drawing attention away from themselves, the executive and the environment.

It’s no secret why the best protectors are compensated the most. The operations they manage are seamless; the details they oversee run smoothly. Not only do they perform the tasks at hand, but they go the extra mile: Cars are always there, luggage is always picked up on time, the elevator is always waiting, planes are always prepped, and drivers always know where they are going. These too, reduce risk, but also add value, as the client sees these preparations as ways to save time and money.

Follow the Scout Credo

Lastly there are certain recommended soft skill traits I like to refer to as the “Scout Law”: be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Each of these traits apply in the protective mission of protectors. Each has a value clearly applicable for protectors.

Protection agents are more than just guards or sets of eyes. These trained professionals require a broad-based skill set in order to be effective. Striking the right balance between soft and hard skills is the necessary first step to a successful protector/client relationship.

Jerry Heying, CPP, PPS, CST
International Protection Group
International Protective Service Agency
Executive Protection Institute