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The incident-the mistake-the lesson-#1

Let me set the record straight- an opinion to me means nothing unless it is based on real experience.  Too often people have strong opinions on matters in this industry and this craft based on nothing but a feeling.  SAVE IT!  There are certain people, that when they post, blog, or tweet that I pin my ears back and soak up the information.  Since the onset of this blog I have noticed many of them forwarded, shared and passed long to other specialists and company owners in the business.  I want to make one thing perfectly clear.  My opinions are strong and rather absolute based on one main factor-My EXPERIENCE.  That experience is part-in-parcel due to mistakes, hiccups and hurdles that I have made or had and dealt with.  To that end, I have decided to share some of them.  Every true leader has made them and the best of them have come away from each of them with 2 things: 1-scar tissue [mental] and 2-lesson learned.  The scar tissue is the constant reminder of the incident and the lesson learned is the ability to alleviate doing it again.  Albert Einstein described Insanity as: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

To that end I have decided to pull back the veil and share some mistakes I have made and the lessons learned:

The Incident:

About 6 years ago me and Minister had traveled to Sin City 4 days before our client was to arrive with his wife and children.  We were going to be providing protection to the eldest child during a sporting event that would last 1 week for the preliminary games and possibly another 3-4 days for the playoffs and finals.  Upon our arrival we looked at the schedule and brackets and separated the known locations and broke down every possible playoff scenario and where they would take place.  This sporting event would have over 200 teams traveling into the city, all seeking the touted AAU championship trophy.  The venues were spread far and wide, from possibly playing at UNLV to even community centers in the urban areas of Las Vegas. 

After every possible venue was identified we split up and ground out the protective advance work.  Each evening we gathered, went over any issues and immediately started our individual reports for the book.  Each and every day up until the 4th day the process was repeated.  On the 4th day we got in one car and ran every route, visually identified safe havens and hospitals and it took the entire day without stopping to eat a meal.  When we returned we put the book together and refitted to meet the client and family to brief them on the week.  After the meeting we would drive the eldest child back with us to meet with his/her team that was staying at the same hotel we were already in.

This was far from our first rodeo in Vegas and both of us are very familiar with the flagship hotels and most of their heads of security.  So when we were briefed that the client was staying at the Private Villas at one of them we wrote off identifying if the Villas were separate from the main hotel and casino.  Surely, private villas that have the same name of the hotel and casino are easily to get to through the lobby.  All we need to do is get there early enough to walk to them from the inside.

The Mistake:

After getting suited up we left our hotel 1 hour prior to the scheduled client briefing.  Traffic was a monster at 1900 hours and it took all of 20 minutes even using the back streets that run parallel to the strip.  We finally arrived on the main apron and greased the palms of the parking staff to keep our car on the hotel apron.  We both entered and asked the concierge how to get to the private Villas.  His facial response said it all, followed by, “Huh?”  “Private Villas” I said again.  “Hold on, let me find out” he replied.  Internal YELLOW Flag goes up and puck factor 3.  He came back and said, “They think [who is they] its in the back but you cannot access it from the hotel.”  OH SH*T!

When run back to the car, get the keys and get on the trip to Flamingo Road.  As I am driving Minister is on the phone with the security office of the hotel tring to obtain information on where the entrance to the Villas are.  No one in the office knows but they say it’s directly behind the hotel/casino with a guard gate.  As I am driving on the dark road I am passing numerous guard gates.  Mr Murphy is in full effect but I refuse fold under the pressure.  Instinctively I turned down a dark driveway that was covered by palm trees, making almost a palm tree cave drive.  I approach a guard gate occupied by an older well uniformed guard.  “I am here to go to meet the XXXX family”  We give him our names and we are permitted to pass.  As I continue the driveway I am trying to come up with the best apology ever because we have never been late with this client.  I approach a circular driveway that was occupied by top dollar luxury vehicles and park.

I grabbed the trip book and we sprint to the door, pick up the telephone and dial their Villa.  NO ANSWER!!  As I peer through the glass door I can see butlers and waitresses milling through the marble corridors but it is apparent they are instructed to not open the doors.  The doors are only to be opened by the residents from their villas.  I call again- NO ANSWER.  Within seconds of the second call I get a text from the client-“Where are you guys, you are never late”  I responded that we were at the door but no one was answering.  The buzzer to the door rang and the door slowly opened on its own.  We walked the marble halls with dorian and corinthian columns and approach the private door.  When she opened the door she said, “I told **** to listen out for the phone.”  She assumed that we had been out there the whole time and it was the failure to hear the phone that made us late.  I let that story ride.

The Lesson:

What I did here was totally against everything I stand for in this profession-ASSUMPTIONS!  By assuming the Villas were part of the hotel/casino I was guilty of my biggest pet peave-BEING ON TIME.  We were so caught up on the brackets and possibilities of the entire upcoming week I dismissed the client briefing as an important factor of the chain of events.  The reputation we had with the client may not have been ruined but it would have ruined our record of being on time with just one incident that I took for granted.  To this day, this is the first time I’ve shared this with anyone except EP school students as an example.

7 comments

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  1. Josh

    Much respect to you for opening up and revealing the issues surrounding that detail. A lot of people in your position would never admit to making a mistake due to an overinflated sense of self-worth or an ego they can’t get out of the way of. I’ve learned more from my mistakes than any book or powerpoint. We learn..we grow and get better.

    I understand the time thing as well. If you are “on time” you’re late in my book. If your shift starts at 0900, you should be there at 0845 to for a proper briefing so come 0900 your ready to work!

    1. Eric Konohia

      On time means ON STATION, not walking in the door

      1. Josh

        A lot of so called “Pros” don’t seem to understand that.

  2. Leon Adams

    Eric,
    As usual, warrior, a wealth of information. Thanks for sharing. Hope to make it up there sometime soon when time permits.

    Leon

    1. Eric Konohia

      Leon
      We will hook up soon

  3. Raffaele Di Giorgio

    Outstanding lesson:

    It takes discipline to write SOPs for a details, it takes true character to hold ones-self to those standards.

    Old FTO of mine once, told me. “if you want to enforce the law, you should first learn to obey it.” He only had to tell me once.

    1. Eric Konohia

      Thanks Raffaele, welcome back home.

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