No Cutting: Get To The Back Of The Line

Throughout my nine years of experience in the Executive Protection (EP) industry, I’d like to think that I’ve achieved many significant accomplishments.

Having traveled to over 30 countries, building executive protection and estate teams, embarking on 10 major worldwide tours and transitioning from field agent to Director of Security. Despite my successes, I’ve still felt like a student at best, but now finally considering myself a Specialist. Naively, many young protectors are eager to consider themselves “specialists” without undergoing the proper mentorship and gaining the practical experience needed to hold this title.

While doing some research and reading through different EP online forums, I’ve observed an unfortunate trend that has developed within some of our young protectors in the industry. After completing basic training and obtaining minimal experience, many new protectors are not seeking to advance their knowledge further, leading to stunted potential growth. Outside of the martial arts world, many view the black belt 1st dan as the highest level of skill. However, those who have studied the art understand that the 1st dan symbolizes a practical understanding of the basics that gives you a foundation to learn the true craft then.  Similarly, EP school provides the bare minimum basic training and knowledge of the Executive Protection Industry. This is where advanced training, mentorship, and practical experience bridges the gap, allowing a generalist to transition into a specialist. Without this necessary progression, a generalist does not learn the appropriate times and techniques in which to employ the tools they’ve gained. Through mentorship and experience, a generalist learns where they are proficient, as well as where their skills need sharpening.

When I graduated EP school at the age of 21, like the generalist I am referring to, I thought I was prepared to work with any client, anywhere in the world. Luckily for me, I had seasoned specialists that sat me down to teach me the process. These specialist mentors came from various backgrounds and worked in different protection platforms, such as high-net-worth individuals (HNWI), celebrity & entertainment, corporate, and dignitary protection. Fortunately, these seasoned professionals saw my potential while working in their respective areas. This presented opportunities for me to work with them in their details. These experiences gave me an understanding of the nuances of each of the different sectors. I quickly chose the celebrity & entertainment field because of my educational background in ‘Music Business and Marketing.’ Taking into account my age and personality, this segment of the security industry was the best fit for me.

Once I made my decision, I researched everyone in the field and began to develop my craft by taking the necessary training courses. I took a training course with Elijah Shaw and soon after I was working for his global security firm servicing high profile celebrities. As this was my first detail, I started from the bottom.  Initially, I worked the halls and walls, there was also security driving and even performing the work of what some might consider personal concierge/assistant. Experiencing this process gave me a greater understanding of the intricate working parts of a protection detail. I began to further my training and networking by attending summits and conferences. During one of these conferences, I met two men who would soon become my mentors, Eric Konohia and Avery Mitchell. Konohia took me under his wing and taught me the responsibilities of the person who sits in the front right seat (“FRS”). He fine-tuned my basic knowledge of executive protection and consequently turned me into a detail leader. Mitchell conditioned my mindset and developed my mental acuity. I would say the mentorship of these two seasoned specialists propelled me into being where I am today.

Approximately five years ago, Mitchell connected me with an opportunity that allowed me to showcase my years of preparation. I accepted a three-week detail assignment that soon became a full-time placement. Fast forward years later, and I am the Director of Security and also own a global security company.

I dedicate this article to young generalists in the industry, hopefully expressing the importance of not skipping the process of becoming a specialist. In this industry, the key is to stay the course, and eventually, you will have the opportunity to become a leader in the field. Over the past nine years, I’ve learned from my mentors, both from their successes and failures.

My advice to those just starting out is to be humble, welcome criticism, seek out a mentor, and always be a student. Following these steps will ensure your sustainability and relevance in the industry. Clients are often aware of the holes in the services being provided; as an Executive Protection Specialist, the services we provide should always be at an executive level. Be humble and enjoy the journey, there is wisdom in getting to the back of the line. Perfect your craft, wait your turn, and eventually, you too will move up to the front.

No Cutting, Get To The Back Of The LineBy: Michael Brown Jr., EPS, CAS

Michael Brown Jr., EPS, is a Certified Protection Specialist, Director of Security, and Agency owner.

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