Elijah Shaw Founder of ICON Global which provides executive protection to high network individuals to include providing protection to celebrities. Interestingly enough or in most cases those who are into the field of professional security would have a background in law enforcement or possibly some military history. Elijah Shaw is the amazing exception to that rule. Having grown up in Chicago’s Ida B. Wells Housing Projects and on his journey through school, Shaw decided to attend film school and to pay for his education he took employment in the security field. Elijah found that he enjoyed working in the security field and thus made it a career.
Shaw’s experience in the security protection industry has blessed him with the honor of going global and being called upon to travel internationally when a “security challenge” arises. EarHustle411 and the writing staff appreciates that Elijah Shaw takes advantage of his position and uses it for the betterment of other people. For example, clearly he has traveled the world a few times and the joy of that is he will take in the scenery and grab beautiful shots of the different places he has been. Shaw will then utilize the footage he has gathered and put them up for sale on his website appropriately named Life Up There. He will then take the proceeds to purchase cameras for children in inner cities with the hopes that the children who receives the cameras will use them to make a creative outlet for themselves. What an awesome way to give back!!
Elijah Shaw graciously shared a moment with Media Correspondent SunShyne, his life and accomplishment are amazing. EarHustle411’s hope is that his story inspires someone to step out on their faith and start their own business by doing what they love to do.
Check it out
EH411: EarHustle411 commends you on your stance against domestic violence. Can you give us a little background history on what prompted you to create your company ISC Safety Net back in 2006?
Elijah Shaw: ISC Safety Net is my brain child, by me providing executive security services for VIP’s, but there are a lot of people that have a need but cannot afford it, one of those are people who are victims of domestic violence which is prevalent in minority communities. So wondering how I could give back I started to volunteer my services to victims of domestic abuse. The scope had to be narrowed down because my phone was ringing constantly. So I started to work with domestic violence shelters, so they could screen the calls, assess the need and then filter the calls to me. Even with that in place and my busy schedule, others who were with the company was like “Hey sign me up!!” and they were willing to help out as well. So what I did was formed a network of people and what we do is volunteer our time providing security for victims of domestic violence.
For instance a woman who is a victim of domestic violence from an abusive relationship and she has to go back to her home to gather her things, we’ll escort her there and bring her back. Just making sure that everything is safe. Even victims that have filed orders of protections or have to go to court and may have custody issues, now they have to sit across from their batterer, we will provide services to make them feel safe and protected in court. I’d like to expand the program and the outpouring support has been great. I get calls all the time asking how can people help so it’s an ongoing process with the ISC Safety Net. With that program, I got asked to serve on the Board of Directors for Woman’s Advocate, which is the nation’s oldest shelter for victims of domestic abuse and their children. I served on that Board for the full term of 5 years but in that time I gained a very unique perspective of what the women and children go through and now I just work with them from the outside .
EH411: Being a bodyguard to the stars can be dangerous at times, how does your family handle your position knowing that you can be harmed while protecting the life of another?
ES: This is the only career I’ve ever been in . Again I went to film school which is a lot different than what I am doing now. Because it’s the only work I’ve ever done for 20+ years, I think my family has gotten kind of “used to it”. They don’t make the connection of me being in Israel as being dangerous. They know I am good at what I do but sometimes it’s tough on the family occasionally they’ll see something on CNN and call and say are you okay but for the most part there’s a familiarity to my business I liken it to a firefighter. Everyday they go out and face 3-alarm blaze or worse. Putting out fires it is a dangerous job but they are providing a valuable service. As long as you have a good support system at home, it makes the job all worth while.
EH411: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?
ES: WOW!! That’s a good one!! One of my biggest accomplishments was to “beat the odds” I managed to work my way up the ladder at one organization where I was an account manager. I was bringing in clientele. My goal was to make partner with this company and every year we would meet, conduct an annual review and I’d be waiting for that promotion. Every year, I’d hear “now is not the time” for whatever the reason was. The last time I had this same conversation, one of the owners said to me “Elijah, you’re a great guy. You do a great job but your moving a little bit too fast, you’re too ambitious. And if we are not moving fast enough for you, maybe you should start your own company”. I looked at him and I stood up and shook his hand and right then and there is when I had the idea to start my own company, and at that moment I quit my job. So my biggest accomplishment was to take an idea and turn it into a reality and to live my dream.
EH411: What are the top 5 things that one must be able to have to successfully get through your security training school?
ES: (Laughing) 5 things…wow! I am going to try to do this and you’re going to keep track.
- You have to be self-motivated, reason being is there’s a ton of distractions, particularly when working with high level people.
- Self-disciplined to keep from falling prey to different things, like missing a step or being in the wrong place or possibly losing your edge. Both of those things are vital.
- You have to be physically fit to do the job. As cliché as it sounds, its true just take a look at the cops walking the street. Being physically fit and mentally fit is very important.
- Loyalty is extremely important, because we know all the secrets. We spend a lot of time around the clients sometimes more than their spouses. We have to make sure that we safe guard the secrets. We are not only protectors of their well-being but also their privacy.
- Being realistic about your expectations. My schedule is brutal, we work 20-22 hours a day. We have to be realistic and knowing that you are not a machine and rest is a must because that’s the only way to be able to do the job effectively.
EH411: What are the pros and cons of being a celebrity bodyguard?
ES: The pros are easy, I get to meet people I may never would have had the chance to meet and travel the world over. The person I was most excited to meet was Bishop Desmond Tutu, which was the most random thing, I met him at the Grammys. So for someone with my background to be afforded to do all these things is definitely rewarding. On the con side of things, the schedule is extremely hectic and fast paced. My time is not my own and it’s hard to schedule my training classes because I don’t know where my clients will be. (Take a look at Elijah’s training videos)
EH411: Running a business is hard, is there anything you would do differently with running your business?
ES: This is a great question!! I am extremely good at what I do but if I had to do it again or what I would recommend is that if you are going to start a business, surround yourself with people that are experts in whatever area your business is in. So I am an expert in executive protection but I was not an expert in accounting or payroll and all of these other things that are involved with running a business. In certain areas, you can’t just hire a person because you know them or you like them. You should hire people in the areas where you lack to they can be mastered so you won’t have to worry about them. So if I could do one thing over again, I’d hire specialist and put them in a role and expect them to do the job t the highest degree possible.
Our conversation with Elijah was very enlightening as well as entertaining. We learned from him about how in his chosen field that everything is not what it may seem from the outside looking in. He is surely a testament that determination, drive, faith and fitness (mentally and physically) are key things to strive for, even when running such a business like his. Always surround yourself with positive people, but most importantly DREAM BIG.
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