Raising the bar

Several months back Tommy Smith called me to mentor him in this business. As I’ve said before this was the first time someone had come out and asked me that even though I may have been an unwitting mentor to specialists in the past. We spoke daily and I tasked him to do several things to help his understanding of the craft.

He attended the BPI Security and MTMS EP course and did very well as expected. Since the course he received a call to service and realized the BPI adage, “Stay ready so that you don’t have to get ready.” He had a few hurdles that got in the way. In the end I took full responsibility for that hiccup.

Yesterday I had to travel to Florida to attend meetings and assess some client issues. On this specific project I have incorporated retired USSS Agent Larry C to assist. Larry has been very instrumental with BPI Security since its birth and has been a mentor in many ways. As a responsible mentor, I asked Tommy to shadow us yesterday to see the inner workings of how things go down at the 30,000 foot level. It was also a good opportunity for Tommy to get a chance to listen, talk, ask and learn from the countries highest level of protection- a former USSS agent that served under and protected 4 former Presidents.

As I watched Tommy throughout the interaction I could sincerely see a look of disbelief as if he was saying to himself, “How did I get to this point.” Larry gave him perspectives from the official side and how it translates to the private side. He also stressed the importance of being able to think outside the box in the private sector because of limited resources. Tommy’s face expressed the, “I heard that before look.” For me, validation of what I have been saying from a third party was important for him to hear. I never felt that I needed him to hear that from Larry to confirm what I had told him but to hear it from another perspective gave him a well rounded view.

As Larry told him how he developed the USSS fitness program and the several positions that he held on the shift along with the countless lead advances he had done, Tommy looked like he was star struck. On a more personal level Larry told him about the private companies in the country whose security programs he had developed it was clear that this guy was the real deal to Tommy.

Ironically while we were talking over coffee Larry’s phone rang and it was Mark calling about a training program that he wanted Larry to help develop. You can never over emphasize how vital it is to have experts like this as a colleague, affiliate, counselor and mentor. You are fooling yourselves to think you can make it anywhere in this industry without having dexterity.

The whole mentor thing was new to me and there was no blueprint on how it is supposed to be done. All I know is that helping serious specialists is a duty and obligation for everyone in the position to do so. I have given several example of how it has worked. Just last month I spoke about Stepfan Williams of Nuimage Protection, then there is Reno Raines of Security Risks Group and just yesterday there was a great comment left on the BPI Security blog by Bruce Dixey who I connected with some assets in Europe with an upcoming trip.

I am calling out all the experts and company owners to raise the bar and help raise the level of this industry. It’s our industry, rise up and lift as we climb


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  1. Rich D.

    I truely belive in the “mentor” sytle of teaching. Its one thing when a drill Sgt. is screming tactics at you expecting you to jump at what he is screaming. It is also another when you have a (and I’m going to mention the SEALs because they are cool), seasoned SEAL next to you calmly explaining your next move quietly, and pointing to objectives not normally seen by someone untrained.

    At this stage in my life I have truely encompassed the mentor style of training. And an event that really sent it home was when one night responding to an accident. Driver severely trapped and unconscious. As I pulled up in my HUGE tool box, I find a Captain of a truck company screaming at the top of his lungs at his men to perform something only HE, (the Captain), had in his head. His men were doing everything the Captain did not want done, in their effort to stop him from screaming.
    I walked up, and made eye contact with the Captain. I asked him to SHUT UP, and step back. And with a calm voice, I ask his men to cut and spread where it needed to be done, and in the end the patient lived.

    Walking the recruit through the tasks, and showing them the “other” things to look for will forever be filed for further reference.
    My 2 cents!!

    1. Eric Konohia

      Thanks Rich. You are absolutely correct And yea the SEALs are cool.

  2. Tommy Smith

    Yesterday  was truly an experience of a lifetime! Not just because I had the opportunity to meet, listen, learn and ask anything I wanted to  Mr. Larry C. The experience was unique because I was able to hear a legend in the industry validate everything Eric has taught me this far. Also, I was shocked at how modest Mr. Larry C. was and how much he expressed his admiration for Eric and how he learns just as much from Eric as Eric learns from him. I thanked Eric for allowing me this opportunity. I know that my experiences and knowledge thus far into this industry have been in my eyes incomparable to some other agents. I owe all this to Eric and his commitment to make me an all around specialists. He (Eric) is definitely one of a kind! I am truly blessed to have met Eric and I know that the only thing left for me is to go up from here.

    1. Eric Konohia

      So that you know Larry said, “Tommy is intent on learning isn’t he?”. He picked up on your ability to understand and translate what you were unsure of into a valid question.

      As me and Mark told you. “you have it”. You are a rare breed amongst so many who are not willing to do it the right way.

  3. Frank M

    Hi Eric,

    I would agree that you mentor many people without knowing it, I myself have asked you many questions in order to aid my professional development.

    I remember the seating plan you described in your blog to use when planning an AGM. The positioning of specialists and the closed front row was something of real value to somebody with no experience of this task.

    The four elements of the Commando Spirit (Royal Marines Commando UK) are; courage, determination, unselfishness, and cheerfulness in the face adversity, you display all of these attributes through your blog; but you continue daily to be selfless with your knowledge, network (Paul Voillis), and most importantly your time.

    I continue to learn from your blog and count you in many ways as a mentor.

    Thank you for your contribution to the security community, have a great weekend.

    Kind regards,

    Frank Morey

    1. Eric Konohia

      Thank you very much for the kind words. Stay safe across the pond my friend.

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