What EXACTLY do you do?!

Welcome to my very first blog post-this will either be a lot of fun or an unmitigated disaster. Depending on the feedback, this will be one of many to come or the first and last. Seriously.

I would like to think that after 20+ years as a Special Agent in the US Secret Service and over 14 years in a leadership role with an international oil company, I am comfortable and capable of successfully operating in just about any environment. I learned how important it was to play well with others and get along with a diverse array of cultures, norms and predispositions in order to accomplish organizational goals, often under very stressful conditions. So all these experiences have made me who I am and permit me the opportunity to provide valuable service to others. The key for me in business is translating "what I have done" into "what can I do for you".

But whenever I introduce myself to someone for the first time and pleasantries are exchanged I'm inevitably asked, "so what do you do?" A question of this nature is standard fare around the world and should not be difficult to answer-except when I tell people I am a "security consultant". That's when I quickly get the follow up question, "What EXACTLY do you do"? Usually the follow up question is delivered with a slightly tilted head, often accompanied by a frown or pursed lips for added effect. So of course being the trained investigator that I am, I quickly recognize that more information is needed and I respond by referencing the usual terms of art such as risk mitigation, asset protection, security program development, threat assessment, etc. In most cases, these terms of art that I am so familiar with come across as a foreign language to the recipient. It didn't take long for me to start asking myself how it could be that a subject I am so familiar with be so nebulous or confusing to so many. In my prior careers, such as when I was an agent in the US Secret Service and people asked me what I did, I simply told them I was a Special Agent in the Secret Service-enough said, right? Everyone knew or thought they knew what a Secret Service agent was and did. Side note: if only people's imagination was reality!

Or when I was in charge of the security department for an international oil company I told them I was the Senior VP of Global Security which was usually self explanatory:

But now that I occupy a professional role which cannot be easily visualized or related to, I have found that I need to communicate differently with people-not only to be understood but also to be successful in business. So now when I am asked, "you're a security consultant, what EXACTLY do you do?" I have a very simple explanation: I help families and businesses protect what's most important to them. Boom, super simple, something everyone can relate to. (Sorry no GIF for a security consultant). This one liner usually elicits follow up questions but unlike prior introductions where people are trying to figure out WHAT I do, the new line of inquiry I get from people usually pertains to HOW I employ my past experiences to solve current security issues and more importantly HOW I help families and companies prevent future issues.

With social media and so many different channels of communication in existence today, there's no shortage of experts giving advice to so many. That's a good news-bad news story in that some of the expert advice being so freely shared is excellent while some is mediocre at best, downright terrible at worst. While I am a continuous learner and occasionally humbled along the way, it is my intention to further professionalize the security industry by promulgating sound security advice to prevent and solve security issues, preferably in that order. That's what security consultants are supposed to do.

So that's what I hope to begin doing in this blog, sometimes with a little humor which people in my business are not known for, and with good reason. I've never been reluctant to share my opinion on anything but in this case I will reserve it for subject matter I actually have experience, training and standing to comment on. I've learned many lessons and validated many concepts that I believe are worth passing on to my readers and my clients. Whether you are a corporate security director, a family office director or private individual my desire is to help you avoid unnecessary grief, spend your money wisely and better understand what the term risk really means in practical terms. Stay tuned, and let me know what's on your mind as it relates to security and reducing your risk exposure.

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