Joe T.

Joe T.

  • Private Security
  • CrossFit Athlete

“So you were never a cop, never a Marine, and never a college grad?  You were a 23 year old manager of a homeowner’s association and part-time bodyguard in Arizona?  Why in the world did they — Gavin de Becker & Associates, the most prestigious public-figure protection firm in the world — hire you?”

I often hear this about my “unimpressive” background (unimpressive on paper at least).  Yet somehow I’m the Director of GDBA’s entire Protective Security Division.  How did I earn this position?  How did I get here?  Well, let me tell you…

As a teenager I gravitated towards the iron.  In the dry heat and clanking steel of Arizona’s most hardcore gyms, I discovered a place where men are judged not on their backgrounds, but on their merit alone.  An arena where blood calloused grips and vein necked intensity earns a man lasting respect.  With my inner-fire lit, I envisioned the man I wanted to become: The strongest, hardest, most fanatical warrior in that gym; in no short order, the best.

If I approached my future the same way I approached my workouts I thought, then success was no longer probable, it was inevitable.  So in between my homeowner’s job and time at the gym, I started working part-time as a bodyguard — not at the GDBA level, yet still learning all I could about advance work, controlling crowds, and gaining the protectee’s confidence.  Part-time work, however, wasn’t enough for me.  I hungered for a real career.  I wanted to be more than just a “bodyguard.”  I wanted to work with experts in the world of public-figure protection.

To make protection my life’s work, I had to sharpen my mind and improve as a protector.  This improvement, I knew, was up to me.  I still remember thumbing through the public library’s small collection of books on security, threat assessment, and investigation – books that seemed to have never been read.  As I eyed the spines of each book, I came across a book with a shining silver cover.  It was the first time I saw the name, Gavin de Becker.

As I pulled The Gift of Fear from the shelf and flipped through the pages, I saw words like “protection,” “predicting violence,” and “threat assessment.”  As I read Gavin’s bio inside the dust jacket, I noticed he had a security firm in Los Angeles with agents who actually protected at-risk public figures full time.  What a way to make a living!  Right then I decided to apply to GDBA, and if hired, move to LA and protect the world’s most at-risk public figures. Yet I admit, I had a few reservations…

As I viewed the GDBA website, I was intimidated. I was 23 years old, no college degree, and managing a Homeowner’s Association in suburban Arizona.  To work for Gavin, didn’t you have to be some sort of special agent?  My only experience was breaking up bar room brawls and escorting protectee’s to their car.  I was insecure about my qualifications and background.  Did I really have the right stuff?

Now in my tenth year with the firm, I can tell you I have the right stuff and not because of my background, but because of my daily performance at this firm.  Sure, we have associates with Special Forces backgrounds, but we also have associates with just CrossFit and hotel security on their resume.  What every GDBA associate shares is this: We want to be exceptional.

My advice to all candidates — particularly to those without a military, police, or security background — is to apply.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Experience isn’t gained in years, but to the degree each associate is committed to learning and improvement.  Regardless of your background, if you have that commitment you will succeed here.  I’m living proof.