Reflections on an African Coup d'etat

Uncategorized Aug 24, 2020

Monday Security Memo

Intellectual firepower for security professionals

Reflections on an African Coup d'etat

This past week, the world watched as yet another coup d'etat unfolded in Africa.  This time in the country of Mali.  A previous coup occurred in Mali back in 2012, leading to an influx of Al-Qaeda fighters flooding the region.  It is yet unknown as to what effects the overthrow (and arrest) of former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita means for the troubled nation.

For clarification, a coup d'etat is defined as the removal of an existing government from power, usually through violence.  The word itself is French and translates to "blow of state."  Overall, there have been roughly 200 coup attempts on the continent since the 1950s (with a 50/50 success rate).

During my twenty years of international security consulting/contracting, I have had the opportunity to experience two African coup d'etats.  I had a front row seat...

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SMD - Subs Must Deliver!

Uncategorized Aug 17, 2020

Monday Security Memo

Intellectual firepower for security professionals

SMD - Subs Must Deliver!

 

Years ago, before I opened up my own consulting firm, I worked as a subcontractor to train a group of Fortune 500 executives who were about to travel to a war zone.  The client had paid nearly US $40,000 to receive one day of instruction from me and a highly-decorated former intelligence official. 

Because of the audience - and the money involved - I prepared and rehearsed my training modules for weeks in advance.  I opened the morning session by laying out the threats that the executives would likely be facing.  I acted, essentially, as the warm-up act for the Big Gun instructor, so I tried to be entertaining and informative. 

I spoke for three hours, including breaks, and I used a lot of recent statistics, visual aids, relevant stories and even some humor.  The students seemed engaged, and the...

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Seizing Undefined Opportunities

Uncategorized Aug 10, 2020

Monday Security Memo

Intellectual firepower for security professionals

Seizing Undefined Opportunities

 

When I was just starting out my career within the Intelligence Community, I was fortunate to have several experienced CIA mentors provide me with direction.  The tragic events of September 11th had just occurred and the world was in a state of disarray and paranoia.  It was not dissimilar from the uncertainty we see today - but, at least back then, the United States was completely "united" (at least for a little while).  

During these early days, I had an old CIA bomb tech for an office mate.  "Mikey" was a great guy, with a wicked sense of humor, who had been around the world and back.  Whether it was an African coup, a terrorist attack in the Middle East, or a revolution in Latin America, he had been there, done that, and had gotten the t-shirt.

One day while recanting a funny...

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Keep Punching! Once in a Decade Opportunity

Uncategorized Aug 03, 2020

Monday Security Memo

Intellectual firepower for security professionals

Keep Punching! Once in a Decade Opportunity


Since moving back to Florida a year ago, I decided to take up the sport of boxing.  I don't formally compete mind you - I am a little too old to be squaring off against younger foes in the ring - but I do enjoy a hard workout in the gym.  One of the mottos that I've incorporated from the boxing world into the security consulting world is the phrase, "Keep punching!"  While it may sound overly simplistic, these two words are exactly what it took for me to survive my first decade as an entrepreneur. 

As any small business owner would agree, you can - and frequently do - take a metaphorical "beating" on a regular basis (i.e., cashflow problems, legal issues, fierce competitors, etc.).  There were plenty of days that I felt like Rocky Balboa (in the original movie) where Apollo...

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Security Consultants vs. Security Contractors

Uncategorized Jul 27, 2020

Monday Security Memo

Intellectual firepower for security professionals

Security Consultants vs. Security Contractors

In over 20 years of working within the Intelligence Community, as well as the private security industry, I have come across many misconceptions about my profession.  On the intelligence side of the house, there is an obvious misconception that spies drink martinis, travel to exotic locations, and engage in adventures similar to that of James Bond.  When in reality, the majority of intelligence officers (myself included) prefer a smooth scotch, travel to some real "armpits" of the world, and honestly spend more time typing reports than Miss Moneypenny.  

When I transitioned into the private security world, I also found a major discrepancy... knowing the difference between being a security consultant and a security contractor.  Unfortunately, the terms seem to be used interchangeably, yet...

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Reflections on a Decade in the Security Consulting Business

Uncategorized Jul 20, 2020

 

Monday Security Memo

Intellectual firepower for security professionals

Reflections on a Decade in the Security Consulting Business

Exactly ten years ago today, July 20th 2010, my company, Security Management International, LLC was officially formed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  At the time, I was a naïve 37-year old guy, who thought that I could take on the world.  I vividly remember standing on the balcony of my one-bedroom apartment in the city of Rosslyn that day, overlooking the Potomac River and the shiny white monuments of the Washington DC National Mall, and imagining what I could accomplish by the year 2020.  It’s amazing what a decade can do.  

Today, as I write this issue of the “Monday Security Memo,” I am sitting on the back porch of my waterfront home on the island of Siesta Key, Florida.  I’ve graduated from the rat race of city living to a...

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Security Industry Stereotypes: Kooks, Cowboys & Conmen

Uncategorized Jul 13, 2020

Monday Security Memo

Intellectual firepower for security professionals

Security Industry Stereotypes: Kooks, Cowboys & Conmen

We are living in an era where even the mere mention of a stereotype is viewed as prejudicial.  While I will forego any debate on whether or not society may be going overboard with political correctness, there is one stereotype that I'd like to address... and that is the perception of security professionals.

Whenever I tell someone that I work in security, more often than not, they will respond with, "Oh, so you're like a security guard?"  While I like to think that my two Master's degrees, years of training within the Intelligence Community, working in over 100 countries, and consulting for two-dozen Fortune 500s qualifies me as more than a security guard, my typical answer is, "Sure, something like that."   

...

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How to Be a Business Judo-Master

Uncategorized Jul 06, 2020

Monday Security Memo

Intellectual firepower for security professionals

How to be a Business Judo-Master

My senior year of college I took a Judo class.  I had already graduated early from Michigan State and had an extra year of eligibility remaining on my football scholarship.  As a result, I spent that year taking mostly elective courses that seemed interesting (and easy), such as scuba diving, football coaching, classic cinema and the ancient martial art of Judo.  

My Judo sensei was a tiny, 60-year old, Japanese-American man who was previously the head coach of the US Olympic Judo Team.  Suffice to say, he enjoyed using his oafish football player student (me) as his demonstration dummy to showcase each day's lesson.  At only 5 feet 6 inches, the sensei would deftly kick my 6'4" 235-pound butt all around the dojo, to the delight of my...

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Two Words That Keep Me Going

Uncategorized Jun 29, 2020

 

Monday Security Memo

Intellectual firepower for security professionals

The Two Words That Keep Me Going

I have been uniquely blessed to have had many tremendous mentors in my life... from my father, to my former coaches, to my previous bosses.  Like most people, I am always trying to capture any small nugget of wisdom, from people whom I respect, that can provide me with a competitive edge.  Because let's face it, life is tough and everyday we need to keep pushing ourselves - and our loved ones - forward.  

Playing for legendary college football coach Nick Saban, he would repeatedly tell my teammates and I, "Mediocre people don't like high-achievers and high-achievers don't like mediocre people."  This simple phrase has helped me to avoid getting caught up with the over-populated crowd of naysayers, who spend their days feeling sorry for...

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The Playbook: The Value of Process

Uncategorized May 28, 2020
 

Global security consultant, Luke Bencie, discusses the value of having a process to run your global consulting firm. 

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