Reporting for Leadership Teams: The CP Journal Dashboard

December 6, 2017 in Training

In a recent post on The CP Journal Blog, “How to Leverage Our Content for Your Team,” we highlighted how organizations use our online courses as continuing education for their entire teams. In that post, we mentioned the dashboards and reports that we offer to organizations with large teams participating in our online Tactical Analysis Training Program®.  Since then, we’ve received some questions about ways in which organizations can keep track of their team’s progress and course results while training with us. We wanted to go ahead and share how the dashboards and reports are built, what they can include, and the way teams are using them to ensure everyone in the program is improving their skills in behavioral analysis.

The dashboards that we build, customize, and provide for our online clients at The CP Journal are a compilation of course results for each user going through the modules within our training courses. For every team that chooses to train with us that also wants dashboard capabilities, we set up access to a shared database that shows the team user list and their progress through the program.  Some of the content is automatically fed onto the page, and course results are included once people complete the modules within the courses.  The details on each user can be as basic or as detailed as our clients want, and the course results can include results from any or all quizzes and tests embedded in the program. These features make the dashboards highly customizable and easy to understand because we only include the information that each client really wants.

These dashboards were originally created at the request of Continue reading »

Defining Success in Your Personal and Professional Development

December 1, 2017 in Learning About Learning

This article is part of an ongoing series to help subscribers of The CP Journal’s Practice Section pursue mastery in behavioral observation, situational awareness and decision-making.

For self-driven learners, one of the biggest obstacles to making the most out of the time and money you invest in your development is not having a clear picture of what success looks like. When the end goal for your training or education isn’t clearly defined, it can be hard to know what skills need to be developed in order for “success” to be reached. It can be challenging to track your progress. It’s difficult to attain a high level of confidence in what you’ve already learned. From my conversations with students who have gone through our Tactical Analysis course, the problem isn’t in knowing that having a clear goal is helpful, though. It’s in knowing how to put that goal into words.

Opposite Ends of the Spectrum: Thinkers and Doers

One of the reasons why we love working with members of the military, police officers and security professionals so much is because they are some of the few groups of professionals who truly understand the fact that learning a skill is not enough. For them to be successful, they have to be able to put what they learn into practice. They are people with their own skin in the game and who constantly (and willingly) put themselves into situations where there are life and death consequences for failing to solve a problem. For them, proving knowledge by Continue reading »

Expanded Learning Opportunities with the New Practice Section

November 29, 2017 in Learning Resources

In the four years since we first released the online version of our Tactical Analysis course, our students have continuously told us that they want more opportunities to practice reading behavior. After years of experimenting with different options and months of testing and tweaking, we’re very excited to announce the opening of The CP Journal’s Practice Section within our online Academy.

Learn More About the Practice Section

What It Is:

The Practice Section is an area where members can access exercises to practice reading behavior and develop their abilities to establish baselines and recognize anomalies. Each exercise can be completed in less than 10 minutes, making it easier than ever to practice assessing the four pillars of behavior and our baselining methods.

Why We Built It:

It would be easy to say that we built the Practice Section because our students and customers have been asking for it, but that would only be a part of our reasoning. We built it because, in order for our nation’s protectors (and those looking to ensure their own safety) to become true masters of behavioral analysis, they need more than one book or one training course. Putting our lessons into practice is a key component of pursuing mastery and becoming elite. Creating a training area where protectors can do this from the safety of their home or office and practice for as long or as short a time as they need has been a longtime goal of ours that we’re thrilled to bring to fruition.

Who It Is For:

In designing the Practice Section, we had a specific type of person in mind. The exercises are for people who want to go beyond what we teach in our courses, what they read in Left of Bang: How the Marine Corp’s Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life, or what they learn on our blog. It is for the people who want to drill and develop “soft skills” in the same way they practice other more tangible parts of their profession. It is for the people who want to put in the work to become an elite observer and improve their decision-making.

How You Can Join:

Subscriptions for the Practice Section start at $9.99 per month or $99 per year.

To learn more and view sample exercises:

View the Practice Section

As always, get left of bang and stay there,

Patrick and Jonathan

How to Leverage Our Content for Your Team 

November 13, 2017 in Training

Here at The CP Journal, we’re often asked how protectors can leverage our content to make it effective and actionable for teams of people within their organization. More specifically, they are looking at how best to take the education of an individual person and scale it to a larger team and, in some cases, their entire organization. Because of the frequency of this question, we’ve outlined some of the most popular ways here. If you have other ways that you’re scaling our content out to your entire team, please let us know so that we can share that information with the rest of our audience and empower even more people to learn the skills that we teach.

First and foremost, many organizations purchase our online Tactical Analysis Program® for their entire team.  The benefits that our clients see in using our online course for their teams is that they know they can trust that everyone is seeing and hearing the same message, that individual team members can view the content on their own time and re-watch any modules as often as they like, and that leaders can see where there were deficiencies during the training that need reinforcement as an after action review. We offer organizational pricing and dashboards for leadership, making it more cost-effective and easier to get everyone on their teams trained efficiently.  Dashboards are customizable report cards that we share with team leaders to see who has been set up with access and who has completed the program. They also display course results to track how well everyone did on the quizzes and tests throughout the program.

If this is beyond the scope for your team, many organizations make Continue reading »

Weekly Profile: Articles about Red Queen Problems, Trust, On-Demand Dog Walking Problems and More. Week of 10-22-17

October 22, 2017 in Books and Resources

The Weekly Profile: with the goal of helping to find common ground and innovative solutions by learning from people and perspectives in the military, business, technology, security and more. 

Here are five articles, podcasts or videos we read, watched and listened to this week and wanted to pass along.

1. “ The Red Queen Problem: Innovation In the Defense Department and Intelligence Community.” This War on the Rocks article is written by author and entrepreneur Steve Blank to highlight solutions to many of the problems the government faces when trying to innovate. Beginning with a comparison between the approach to innovation we could use during the Cold War with the threats we face today (and how that impacts innovation), he moves into six problems and solutions that can help move organizations past simply putting the word innovation into their mission statement and then continuing with business as usual.

If you are familiar with lean manufacturing concepts or how it relates to product development, you might notice that his check for “solution/mission fit” is the same as companies searching for “product/market fit” and while at first I thought the author was just trying to relate it to the website’s military audience, after thinking about it, it really does translate the lean concepts from a business setting and into a military/government focus. As one of the major goals for The Weekly Profile is to help our subscribers find common ground between the problem they face in their field and how people have faced similar challenges in other professions, this article was one that had to be included and shared this week. You can read it here.

Follow On Reading: If you enjoyed this article, we recommend that you take a look at the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, which expands on the innovation cycle that Steve Blank discussed. While there are some aspects of the approach to product development that should be thought through by people working with the government or with first responders – specifically knowing where the consequences for undeveloped ideas lands and whether you will be putting someone’s life at risk – for those looking to bring innovation to the DoD or Intelligence Community, it could prove to be a great resource. You can learn more or pick the book up on Amazon by clicking here.

2. “These 13 Exercises Will Prepare You For Work’s Toughest Situations.” In what she calls “dynamic empathy,” the VP of Content for Nerdwallet (a finance focused website) explains how you can quickly gain an understanding of how a colleague feels so that you can figure out how to act on it in a swiftly changing environment. Using 13 different scenarios that she used to learn the skill, she has created lists of questions that you ask yourself (this is an internal exercise) that can be prepared and thought through ahead of time to ensure you are prepared to consider other people’s motivations in tough situations.

If you are getting ready to give a performance review, take a look at Scenario #1 in the list. When managing conflict and attempting to de-escalate a situation take a look at Scenario #8. If you are building and instituting new processes, consider Scenario #4. Having issues managing up and working with your boss? Consider Scenario #2. If you are an instructor or trainer, look through Scenario #5. Negotiating? Scenario #6. Regardless of your role, there is a high likelihood that one of the 13 scenarios in this article can help you and that is why we recommend you take a look at this article, which you can find here.

3. “Podcast: A Counterintelligence Expert’s Five Rules To Lead and Succeed.” Robin Dreeke, a former Marine Corps Officer and an FBI agent who had a career in doing counter-intelligence work with their behavioral analysis program, talks with Brett McKay about his new book The Code of Trust. We found his interview to be very interesting as he takes a look at some of the techniques that go into validating others and actually building trusting relationships. While mistrust of people, companies, governments and products seems to be pretty rampant today, Dreeke’s approach isn’t about doing anything that gives people a reason to walk all over you, simply trying to be nice to others or dishing out flattery. It is about thinking about situations from the other person’s perspective and being able to address their needs, their concerns and allow them to accomplish their goals, which in turn, also works out for you as well. You can listen to the podcast here.

4. “Crime as Jihad: Developments in the Crime-Terror Nexus In Europe.” This article from The Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point looks at the connections between criminals becoming involved in jihadism using data from Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, England and France and the striking percentage of people who had criminal records before traveling to fight in Iraq or Syria. As the authors to the article point out, it isn’t just the fact that they are criminals that is important, but the reality that their criminality is relevant to their extremism, how they radicalize into violence and how they operate once radicalized.

For those of you who are students of terror and the threat that these individuals and organizations pose, this article takes a look at how the Islamic State has been encouraging “regular” crime. It highlights a few cases of criminals-turned-jihadists and looks at where future research needs to be focused as we consider the fact that of the 580 people sentenced in Europe in 2016 who had ties to terrorism, the average sentence was only five years, which connects the risk level of terrorist attacker with our calendar. You can read the article here.

5. “Wag, The ‘Uber for Dog-Walking,’ Is Drawing Uber-Like Scrutiny.” Here is a bit of a lighter article to end this week on. This Bloomberg Technology article takes a look at Wag, the on-demand dog walking company that is reported to be raising around $100 million dollars in it’s third round of financing. The problem however, is that “every time a pet dies or goes missing, Wag and Rover (a similar company) take a public relations hit,” which is starting to cause concerns for investors. Yes, you read that correctly. A problem that the company is facing is that there is an actual risk of a dog going missing or dying during their walk. Apparently, this has become a big enough problem where the company has stood up “a dedicated team to handle dog rescues.” It has gotten to the point where one former customer (who allegedly turned down $2,500 and a trip to Disney World in compensation for her dog going missing on a walk) received a threatening cease and desist letter from the company after she turned to social media to voice her concerns about the company. You can learn more about the story and read the article here.

Until next week – get left of bang and stay there.​

Patrick and Jonathan

If you’d like to get The Weekly Profile in email form, in your inbox, on Sunday mornings, please subscribe at this link.


The Weekly Profile: Improving Social Skills, Reactions to Active Shooters, Chess Experts in Finance and More. 10.15.17

October 18, 2017 in Books and Resources

The Weekly Profile: with the goal of helping to find common ground and innovative solutions by learning from people and perspectives in the military, business, technology, security and more. 

Here are five articles we read this week and wanted to pass along.

1. “How To Prepare Your Family For An Active Shooter.”This article from The Secure Dad website embraces the same concept of an article we included from Jeff Chudwin about police ambushes a couple of weeks ago: while the goal is always to get left of bang, there could be times when we can’t observe the attacker ahead of time and have to be ready to take action once something begins.  Andy Murphy, the author of the article, has been very supportive of Left of Bang but acknowledges a similar reality to the police ambush article in this write up about how to prepare your family for active shooter events.  In these situations, being right of bang isn’t a result of complacency or being caught in Condition White, but because you never were able to see the assailant ahead of time because you weren’t in the right position. Even though it isn’t ideal, it doesn’t mean you should waste a split second trying to figure out how to react either.

In this particular article, Andy Murphy uses his experience as a sports videographer and his access to stadiums and arenas to help think about the run, hide, fight reactions a person should be ready to execute if they find themselves in a situation with an active killer.  In the run section, he highlights a simple, yet effective way to prepare and rehearse that escape route.  In the hide section, he hits on something often seen in active shooter scenarios where people trying to escape end up in a room without an exit (something that occurred in the Pulse Nightclub attack). And in the fight response section, he reminds us how hard actual fighting is, and how, if you are unprepared or untrained, it isn’t as easy as it looks in the movies.

As you read the article, don’t limit the application of this particular article to stadiums either. It isn’t just that you want to find the vendor areas so that you can escape – but that you want to think about alternative routes you may not normally think about (such as how employees are moving around this arena without being seen). Don’t let domain dependence slow the learning but keep the applications of the article broad in mind as you read through it.  This is one of the top articles this week for a reason and for subscribers looking to keep their families safe; it isn’t one to skim through. To find, read and think about the concepts in this article, you can read it here.

2. ”How To Help An Employee Who Rubs People The Wrong Way.”A large portion of the client work that we do at The CP Journal involves some element of making more informed decisions about people and their safety. But we also spend a good deal of time helping people use the common elements of human behavior in areas outside of a security environment as well – such as how they can be used in conversation.  In this Harvard Business Review article about how to tackle awkward conversations, the author shows how it can cause some interpersonal challenges for managers and leaders who recognize that they need to address the problem of employees who rub others the wrong way and provides a few ways to prepare for the encounter.

As the articles drives to the point that the best way to deal with these situations is through thorough preparation, the four pillars of behavior that we write about on our site and teach in our classes can help you think about how to prepare. From decisions about what behavior you are going to display during the conversation, what type of behavior you are looking for as feedback from the person and how you set the conditions for the conversation using group behavior, the environment and the collective mood, the universal and uncontrollable elements of behavior provide a great compliment to the strategies discussed in this article, which you can find here.

3. “How the CIA Staged Sham Academic Conferences To Thwart Iran’s Nuclear Program.”This ProPublica article is an excerpt of Daniel Golden’s book Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universitiesand takes a look at some of the ways and reasons why intelligence agencies use academic conferences to lure the top minds from a range of scientific disciplines into a position to be recruited. As it can be hard to gain access to Iranian or North Korean scientists in their own country, by sponsoring conferences where they will speak and present research, intelligence agencies create a reason for them to leave the safety of their own borders and create opportunities for conversations that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them.

With an explanation about how shell companies are used to actually host the conference (so that the CIA’s name isn’t plastered all over the place), examples of how it has worked well (recruiting Iranian nuclear scientists to defect) and ways it has gone wrong (assessments of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program), this article offers an interesting look into the world of intelligence collection and recruitment. You can read it here.

4. “Wall Street’s Best Kept Secret Is a 72-Year-Old Russian Chess Expert.”In this Bloomberg Pursuits article, James Tarmy profiles Lev Alburt. Alburt spent the early part of his life as one of the most important Russians for his ability to beat other people at chess. After being disenfranchised by Russian politics, he defected, first to West Germany and then to the U.S. Since then, he has built a business teaching the game out of his New York City apartment to some of the wealthiest and most influential people in business and finance. You can read the article here.

5. “How To Get Started With Physical Security: A Guide For Startups & Small Companies.”With so much conversation about the challenges in security, so many articles about innovative new products and so many sales pitches about what you need to protect your company, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of choices you have to sort through as you seek to protect your company from harm. This article from our friend Ami Toben is written for the small companies who have grown to the point where they need to begin thinking about how to stand up a security function.  One of the biggest reasons why we recommend this article is because it stresses the importance of, and the need to, first understated what you are looking to protect before you begin thinking about how you are going to protect it.  While it often seems like common sense, it is one of the biggest mistakes we (and Ami) see and leads to a great deal of wasted money, time and ineffective security. You can read the article here.

Until next week – get left of bang and stay there.​

Patrick and Jonathan

If you’d like to get The Weekly Profile in email form, in your inbox, on Sunday mornings, please subscribe at this link.


The Weekly Profile: Social Vs. Asocial Violence, Pilot Licenses, Digital Currency And More. Week Of 10/8/17

October 9, 2017 in Veterans, Business, and Security

In the Weekly Profile that was sent out yesterday, we know that some of the links weren’t working, which we apologize for. In case you encountered that problem, we have updated all of the links, for all of the articles, here.

If you aren’t currently a subscriber, the Weekly Profile is an email that we send out every Sunday and is made up of five articles, podcasts, books or videos that we have either watched or read during the week and felt were worth passing along. The goal for the Weekly Profile is to help those in the military, first responder and security professionals find common ground between the obstacles they are facing each day and how other people, in other fields, have dealt with similar problems.

If you are interested, you can sign up to receive the Weekly Profile in your inbox each Sunday here:


The Weekly Profile: with the goal of helping to find common ground and innovative solutions by learning from people and perspectives in the military, business, technology, security and more. 

Here are five articles we read this week and wanted to pass along.

1. “Secrets In the Sky.” This is a two-part series from the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Division about gaps in the FAA’s processes to protect our country from the sky.  Part 1 of the series takes a look at how easy it is for foreigners to register a plane in the United States through the use of shell companies and trusts, resulting in a town in Texas (a town that only has 2,500 people) that has over 1,000 registered planes, yet not having an airport or a suburban home in Georgia, the address for the mother of a person who runs an aircraft registration company, having over 200 planes registered to her address unknowingly.  While the price to buy a plane has undoubtedly gone up since 1969, the price to register a plane has stayed the same – only costing $5 to register a plane with a United States identification number.  Why do foreigners try to register planes in the US and not provide accurate information about the owner? Because in many countries around the world, planes landing with a US registration number aren’t screened very thoroughly because there is a perception of legitimacy and the perception of regulation, making it an attractive investment for criminals.

Part 2 of the series looks at the lack of oversight for people with a pilots license – resulting in a number of terrorists, convicted drug traffickers and people who have been caught trying to smuggle jet parts into Iran maintaining their pilots license.  Once you have earned your pilot’s license, you have earned that credential for life and people are only removed from the system for crimes and infractions that are self-reported. Because pilot’s licenses don’t have any biometric information on them, or even a photo of the pilot, the licenses lead to a high degree of identify theft because they simply aren’t checked or verified at many airports.

This is one of the longer articles we’ve read this week, but it is worth the time to learn about a portion of our government that we often don’t give too much of a though to.  To read the story about how a federal agency has refused to implement changes mandated by law and by congress for the past 13 years, you can find Part 1 of the series here.

2. “Liberate Your Team With Clearer Processes.”Processes, whether in business, the military or in first responder organizations often come with a negative connotation.  Many will talk about how processes bring more bureaucracy with them, but as this article shows, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Processes can free people up to do their jobs with less oversight when used properly. For organizations looking to improve the way they use processes to empower teams to take action in the absence of explicit guidance, this article has a few recommendations for ways to evaluate what your organization already has in place.  With explanations about why identifying bottlenecks is a good thing, the role of the bigger picture and how processes allow for consistency in decision making, we recommend that you take a look at the article here.

​​​​​​​3. “A Hacker Stole $31M of Ether – How It Happened and What It Means For Ethereum.” Back in July of this year, the world of digital currency experienced the second largest heist in their short history.  What makes this attack unique and interesting isn’t the fact that it was so large, but how much money the hacker could have gotten had another group of “good-hackers” not gotten involved and stole the remaining $150 million of vulnerable money themselves before the criminal could.  Once the breach was identified and the method of attack was determined, the white-hat hackers in Ethereum’s community exploited the same vulnerability in the digital wallets that the thief was using and drained those accounts of $150 million before the thief could get to them (they have since returned the money to the owners).

When hearing about how the attack was stopped some people have asked, “Why did the white-hat hackers have to first steal the money? Why couldn’t they just fix the underlying problem with new code and an update?”

The reason for this is because the blockchain is still pretty young and resembles the software world before we could update our apps and computers automatically. It resembles the time when a company shipped their product every 6 months instead of every few weeks.  As a result, once a smart contract is out there and implemented, it is out there for good and can’t be updated. Hackers (and anyone with access) are able to know how much money is in a contract and have all of the time they want to find a vulnerability that is worth exploiting.  If you are interested in learning more about digital currency and the blockchain, this article is pretty non-developer friendly (you can easily skip over the technical sections and not miss any key points), and provides a great case study worth considering.  Thanks to J.F. for sharing this article with us and you can find it yourself by clicking here.

​​​​​​​4. “Skills vs. Behavior.”  For self-driven learners, the difference between skills and behaviors is an important concept to consider as the distinction is often what can lead to determining your way forward when pursuing mastery in a field. A skill is being able to do something successfully but is limited to doing that one thing and at that one moment in time. Behaviors, on the other hand, are being able to put skills to use and are often exemplified by people who can drop what they are doing, learn something new, and be successful using that new skill.  Behaviors lead to success over the long-term and in a number of different contexts while skills are a bit more limited to short-term success. Even though this article is written in context to businesses and investing, I added it to this email for its application to learning and how it can help you think about what you need to work on to not just master a specific skill that is relevant today, but to practice the behaviors that will allow you to thrive in your career in the future as well (even though we don’t know what that will actually look like). Skills are much easier to track and measure than behaviors, but not everything that is quantifiable is an accurate predictor of success and you can read the article here.

5. “Social vs. Asocial Aggression.” While this article was written for the Art of Manliness website over a month ago, I didn’t get around to reading it until after last weekend’s attack in Las Vegas, but it is certainly one worth considering in light of recent events.  Applying concepts from his book When Violence Is The AnswerTim Larkin describes social aggression as the quasi-violent scenarios that are geared towards asserting some form of social dominance, gaining an advantage or elevating a person’s social status.  That is why so people watch the fight with the bully at school – because they want to see what happens and the new hierarchy that will result from the outcome.  Asocial aggression, on the other hand, has nothing to do with reestablishing the social order but has the goal of wrecking the order.  Because there is nothing being communicated in these situations, people don’t stand and watch, they run, hide or fight. With social aggression, pain and violence are the by-products of the situation, but with asocial violence, death and destruction are its purpose. With a discussion about how to tell the difference between the two forms of violence, how to respond when you encounter it and how you can help the country get left of bang by minimizing the ways social aggression can turn into asocial violence, you can find and read the article here.

Until next week – get left of bang and stay there.​

Patrick and Jonathan
The CP Journal ​


Changing the Odds in Personal Safety: The Benefits of Revolar

September 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

In one of my favorite books about personal safety, The Gift of Fear, author Gavin de Becker dedicates an entire chapter to the “survival signals” that can help people recognize the actions indicative of someone with sinister and violent intent.  As de Becker describes how predators use a variety of tactics to gain control over their intended victim, he provides a number of indicators that can help people get left of bang by recognizing how people might try to get a person to lower their guard. When you identify a person who could become violent towards you, how quickly and decisively you take action can have a significant impact on your personal safety.  What you do in that moment will determine how well you are able to protect yourself from the danger you have identified.

While the decision you make about whether to confront the person, attempt to de-escalate the tension or remove yourself from the area will be based on your perception of the situation and how much danger you are in, for people looking to take control of their personal safety, letting others know that you need help is one of the most impactful ways to begin to take the power away from the person who is threatening you. By letting other people know that you need help, the power dynamic begins to change and the odds of you being able to ensure your own safety go up.  Take a moment to visualize a situation where you might need to do this, though.  How will you actually let people know that you need help?  This is a question worth considering as it is critical to have both a plan and a method by which you can alert people when you are in danger.

The Default (and Ineffective) Method

For most people, the way that they would alert other people that they are in danger is by calling them on their cell phone. But take a moment to think about all of the steps and the actual logistics that go into doing that.  While you are dealing with and face-to-face with the person who has made you feel threatened, you would need to take your phone out of your pocket or your purse, unlock it (often by typing in a passcode), open the phone app, find the person you want to call in your contacts or recently call list, call them, wait for them to pick up, and then explain to them what is going on, where you are, why you need help and what you need them to do.

All of those steps, while simple under the stress-free conditions of everyday life, become incredibly time-consuming when you are facing a potential attacker or concerned about your safety.  In addition to this process forcing you to take your eyes off of the person that has made you uncomfortable so you can dial the phone (taking your eyes off the person is the last thing that you want to do), you may not know exactly where you are or even make it clear to the threatening person that you are calling for help.  Add in the fact that the call itself might confuse the person you are talking to and that our 911 systems can’t always track locations from cell Continue reading »

Beyond Security: The Collective Mood and Customer Service

September 20, 2017 in Applying The Observations, Assessing The Collective, Veterans, Business, and Security

This article was originally written for the International Security Driver Association.

I recently posted an article titled “How Security Leaders Can Influence the Mood at Venue Entrances” discussing how security leaders can improve their ability to protect event sites by creating orderly processes that people move through while entering a stadium and venue. The core lesson was that establishing corridors at entrances and helping people to feel safer and more comfortable during their entry allows for more opportunities to proactively recognize threats and prevent violence. Beyond security applications, however, the concepts have also been used by businesses looking to reduce the number customer service problems they face on any given day and can help close protection professionals communicate with event managers and owners about why to consider changing how people enter a venue.

Even though customer service might not be a close protection professional’s primary concern as they prepare for protective operations, being able to demonstrate to a venue’s management why a change to the entry processes can help to make a business more profitable can go a long way to garnering a venue’s willing participation in making those adjustments. In addition to creating the conditions that allow security professionals to successfully recognize threats, the corridor style setup can be used influence customer satisfaction during an event because it begins to lead them towards comfortable behavior from the moment they arrive. To demonstrate the difference in customer satisfaction and the level of stress present at an entryway, consider the difference in boarding processes between two competing airlines.

Example #1: The American Airlines Model

Consider an American Airlines flight boarding at Denver International Airport. While it isn’t a completely unstructured situation because there are assigned boarding groups, passengers wait in a crowd just beyond the ticket scanner for their boarding group to be called because there is no further order established within each of those groups. The result of this process is a semicircle setup where you have a crowd of people all trying to get as close as they can to the gate attendant so that they can board at the front of their boarding group as soon as it’s announced. Due to a lack of any corridors that clearly separate each boarding group from one another, there is an element of an “every man for himself” mentality where goal-oriented behavior begins trumps norm-oriented behavior as people jostle and push their way towards the plane.

One of the problems with the semicircle setup is that, as the passengers in late boarding groups form a crowd near the entrance, it creates Continue reading »

Preparing To Lead: Repetitions in Project Planning

September 6, 2017 in Veterans, Business, and Security

Millennials often get a bad rap as being a generation full of entitled, timid leaders with no critical thinking skills. While it is easy to generalize the actions of a few people you’ve met, heard about, or seen in the workplace to be representative of an entire age demographic, in my experience I find that there are a many more millennials who want to put in the work to become leaders within organizations and influence change in the world, even if they aren’t explicitly talking about it. For future leaders, whether they’re millennials or of any other generation, having a vision of where you want to take an organization is only one piece of being a leader. Learning how to put together the plan that you will lead your team through to success is what puts people in a position to actually succeed as leaders.

The Challenge of Preparing to Lead

As Jason Fried, the co-founder of Basecamp, discussed in a recent article, “On Being A Bad Manager,” learning how to manage and how to lead is a lot like learning how to play an instrument in that observation is not a substitute for doing. Just because you’ve listened to great guitarists on the radio doesn’t mean that you can play like them the first time you pick up a guitar. Being a leader is no different. You can observe people higher up than you in an organization, but that observation doesn’t prepare you to step into their shoes and perform at an elite level. Simply seeing others do it is not a substitute for actually doing it yourself.

Spending time as a leader is a critical piece to learning what works and what doesn’t work when guiding a team However, as Fried points out in his article, newly promoted managers and leaders often don’t have the benefit of learning “how to play” in the privacy of their basement; they are being viewed and evaluated as a leader starting from their first day on the job. Of the many challenges that new leaders face, answering the question, “What skill can I develop today before I am put into a formal role so that I am ready when opportunities present themselves?” is what should focus preparation.

One of what I view as the most important parts of developing as a leader is also developing the ability to effectively plan. Planning is just one of many areas that impact how capable a leader is, but it’s one that is often overlooked. To be clear, the type of planning that I’m talking about Continue reading »

How Security Leaders Can Influence the Collective Mood at Venue Entrances

August 24, 2017 in Applying The Observations, Assessing The Collective

When seeking to prevent violence and identify attackers before they launch an assault, leaders in the security industry can take steps to establish conditions at the entrances to venues that lead to successful threat recognition strategies. As my co-author Jason Riley and I discuss in our book, Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life, establishing the baseline for an area so that you can search for anomalies is an essential first step to building a proactive threat recognition process, but what can you do when the baseline isn’t the type of behavior that you’d prefer in that type of situation?  By influencing how safe people feel in an area and creating positive atmospherics, leaders allow professional protectors to recognize anomalous behavior with a greater degree of accuracy and less effort.  If you would like to transition the collective mood at the entrances to your stadiums and arenas from having negative atmospherics to having positive atmospherics, one way to do that is by shifting the component of “orderliness” that people perceive so that your entrances seem more structured.

To help security leaders determine what changes they can make to make people feel more comfortable as they approach stadiums and arenas, we can turn to the findings of an article titled, “Collective Phenomena In Crowds – Where Pedestrian Dynamics Needs Social Psychology,” that was published in the Public Library Of Science’s PLOS One Journal.  In this paper, researchers set out to better understand how the entrances to venues and buildings influence the collective mood. Their research was focused on answering the question, “What is the difference between areas that don’t have a controlled process for entry and those that do?”  When entrances don’t have an established process to get in, the result is a Continue reading »

Knowing What You Want in a Network: Lessons Learned for Transitioning Veterans

July 27, 2017 in Veterans, Business, and Security

There is no shortage of advice for military veterans who are transitioning from the armed forces into the civilian world about the need to develop a network in the cities and professions they’re moving into. From helping to get their first job to meeting people with specialized skills or who have information about opportunities, the benefits of having a well-developed network are easy to grasp, yet many of the transitioning veterans I talk with struggle to get this process started. The problem, I’ve learned, is that questions about what you should be looking for in your network are often ill-defined, and the need to “have a network” gets replaced by the “act of networking and network building.” These are two very different things. As a result, veterans (and many civilians for that matter) attempt to build their network inside organizations that aren’t likely to result in long-term relationships, making the transition from the military to business much harder than it needs to be. However, by knowing what type of experiences you are looking for an organization to provide, you can develop relationships with people who can do more than open doors or help you solve a problem, but can be people who you learn to trust.

You Don’t Really Network in the Military

Building a network during my time as a Marine Corps officer was never really a priority for me. Military units are designed to be self-sustaining, so there was never a need to go find the person who is the best at “x” because you likely already have someone filling that role in your unit. Even if you do need to reach outside of your unit for something, perhaps the assistance of an artillery unit for an operation, you don’t get to choose which artillery unit you want. It doesn’t matter if you know the commander, know how well their unit is trained, have worked with them before and prefer to work with them again. Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen don’t prioritize networking because, even if you did request a specific unit to support you, the one that you are going to get is the one who is closest to you and who is able to provide a good-enough level of support. Talking about the reasons why networking isn’t something you often see in the military isn’t a critique of the system. It is what it takes to provide decisive military power in combat. Yet this is the reality that forms the experiences that veterans often take with them from their days in uniform to the business world.

Even though many people in the military have friends and buddies in other units, these relationships aren’t the same as intentionally building a network in the civilian world. At least that’s what I thought as I left active duty. What I’ve learned in the five years since I got out of the military is that what I was actually searching for as I built my network were a group of close friends who I could trust and who had connections of their own that could be tapped into for help when needed

My Initial Misguided Approach to Networking

When I left the military, I also left San Diego to move just outside of New York City to start my company. I didn’t have many connections in the area, and I also didn’t really know what I wanted or needed in a network, so I simply started with what I figured to be a “ready – fire – aim” approach to making connections. In more formal terms, what I was doing was Continue reading »

Thinking About Situational Awareness Through the Lens of a Field Researcher

July 19, 2017 in Applying The Observations

Learning how to learn is a skill that often separates the professionals from the novices in a professional field. In the fast-paced and constantly changing world we live in, those who can quickly learn what is happening in a situation, especially once it changes, have many advantages over their slower moving peers. But how do you develop that ability? Learning how to learn isn’t just about picking up on new skills. It’s also about learning how to size-up and make sense of a situation. How do you learn the “way they do things here?” How do you learn what makes the people in an area tick? Whether your goal is to blend in and avoid attention or to identify opportunities to pursue gains, it begins by being capable of building your own map for the areas and situations you encounter. For protectors, guardians and warriors operating in locations where your ability to quickly and accurately learn about the situation can be the difference between success and failure, and it turns out that there is a lot we can learn in this vein from professional field researchers.

According to David Danelo, a Marine Officer, Iraq War Veteran and author of the recently released book The Field Research Handbook: A Guide to the Art and Science of Professional Fieldwork, field research is a simplified process of collecting information outside of a laboratory. While academic research often produces quantifiable results that come from controlling a limited set of variables and clearly defined datasets, I meet many people in the military, law enforcement or security industries that often question the applicability of that research. While academic research can be interesting and enlightening, the very fact that it is done within the controlled environment of a laboratory often makes professional operators question how it will translate into the real world where variables abound, where control is hard to establish and where cause and effect are often difficult to tie together.

Field research is different in that it does reflect all of those real world truths. Field research is also something that you are already doing whether you are aware of it or not. The “collection of information” component to field research is already present in our field; we just use different names for it. In the military, we say that Continue reading »

Podcast Interview With “The Idea Vacuum”

July 5, 2017 in Updates

Recently, I had the chance to talk with Adrian Stewart from The Idea Vacuum podcast about Left of Bang and provide a few examples of what people can do to apply behavioral analysis in different settings, what goes into the four pillars and some other topics of situational awareness.

From Adrian’s site:

We cover..

  • the specifics of what to look for in people and your environment
  • how you can apply this in an office environment and beyond
  • what it was like landing in Iraq on his first deployment
  • what motivated me to join the Marines

To listen to the hour-long conversation, check out The Idea Vacuum and our conversation here.

“Left of Bang” Added to the U.S.M.C. Commandant’s Reading List

May 25, 2017 in Books and Resources

Last week, Jason Riley and I learned that our book that we co-authored, Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life, was added to the 2017 Marine Corps’ Commandant’s Professional Reading List for the Sergeant and Staff Sergeant ranks. As you might imagine, being included on this list is something that we consider to be an incredible honor.

When we first set out to write this book in the fall of 2011, we only had one goal, and that was to ensure that any Marine who wanted to learn how to read behavior and recognize threats by enhancing their situational awareness had the ability to do so. We realized that not every Marine who wanted to attend the Combat Hunter course would be able to. We know that not every Marine has the extra money to pursue similar training outside of the military on their own. But we also knew that books are easily sharable and something that can be revisited time and again and talked about amongst the members of a unit. While the book is just one of many tactics that we are using to help ensure that violent acts are prevented around the world, it continues to be one of the most impactful ways that are helping us make these skills accessible to everyone.

It is also very humbling to be added to the Commandant’s Reading List for Sergeants and Staff Sergeants as well. While the book was written with the individual Marine on patrol in mind, there are no roles better able to influence a unit than the squad leaders and platoon sergeants that Marines of these ranks fill. They see these Marines more than anyone else does and can use their experience to develop competent and proficient Marines before they deploy, making them incredibly influential members in a unit. One of the challenges that these Marines face, however, is that it can be challenging at times to put their experiences into words so that they can be shared and used as teaching tools. One of the most common comments that we hear from our readers and students is that, for the first time, they have a common terminology to explain what it is that they saw. They have a shared language to explain why what they were observing was important. And if that ability to communicate with someone else can help even just one squad leader help a new Marine elevate their situational awareness to a level of informed awareness, then I see that as a massive success.

To show my appreciation for the men and women wearing a uniform and volunteering to head into harm’s way, we have added a “Left of Bang Discussion Guide” to our library. This guide is designed to help leaders discuss the principles of how to get and stay left of bang with their unit, whether it is a formal Professional Military Education session or an impromptu debrief between the members of a team. You can find the discussion guide here.

To everyone who has read the book, thank you.

Never forget. Never Quit. Semper Fidelis.