ASIS Utah – January Kickoff

If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking… is freedom. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Screenshot 2014-01-18 05.38.02My dear fellow Security Professionals,

Happy New Year and I hope your 2014 is off to a great start!
For over a decade I have been involved with our chapter at varying levels – and with varying levels of satisfaction – and I am humbled and excited about how I can work with our Executive Board this year to bring additional value to your interactions with us this year.
I have spent a lot of time talking to peers throughout the world, nation and state, and the most common feedback I hear is “bring us value and we will come.” From my personal perspective and the feedback I hear, ASIS has gained a reputation as being too much about hardware and RFPs and not enough about day-in-and-day-out security operations. Additionally what I hear is a request for is more tours and continued focus on management skills.
Screenshot 2014-01-18 05.48.25
For 2014, I have two ways of measuring success:
  • We will create seminars you will look forward to attending and want to bring officers and peers (HR, Facilities, IT, InfoSec, etc.) with you;
  • Monthly meetings will be something you will plan business travel around because you want to take part in the value provided.
Many of us find ourselves in our current role as an accidental career. I have not heard any child – with the exception of my own son when he was 10 – ever say they want to grow up to be in corporate security (I told my son to stay in school and pursue a different path). This is unfortunate, but a reality.
Security is often the cold leftovers of a retired military or police career, or an accidental path, like in my own case, that we stumble upon.
The great news is that many of us are excited about our current ability to protect lives and property and find great joy in the challenges and opportunities of this field and how it is the “spoke in the whee” in many organizations that ties together HR, Facilities, Legal, InfoSec, Risk Management, IT, Finance, Admins, Management, and other functions.
We are the first – and last – face many employees see. Occasionally we literally save lives, put out fires, stop thefts and prevent crimes. We all share in the challenge to transform Security into something high school and college kids ponder, better understand, and potentially may find enough sex appeal to pursue.
When I walked away from a career path dedicated to Communications, Marketing, and Public Relations, I could only make peace with myself by committing to transform this industry and negative perceptions people have when discussing security as a career path into something excellent. We have great obstacles to overcome, but it is a worthwhile endeavor and I look forward to going on the journey with you. Please provide your feedback early and often. Volunteer your services and break down the many silos that currently exist.
Kind Regards,
Pete Ferguson, ASIS Utah Chair
P.S. In May we will be meeting with the Information Security Society of America (ISSA) for a half day conference on protecting networks and buildings from outside hackers. We will partner with them again in September for another conference and trade show. I have already received an offer for us to tour the new Adobe facility and we will be going mobile by having at least one meeting in Ogden and one in Provo this year (I’m game for St. George as well, just need a local host and a few week’s notice).

The Importance of People in Security

The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that man may become robots.

~ Eric Fromm

by Pete Ferguson

Within the physical security industry, I perceive there is a continual conflict against people. Card readers are mainly considered force reducers – the more card readers, the fewer people are needed in the security department. Cameras also reduce many posts and consolidate into one control room “tv watcher.”

Additional measures have been prototyped – to include a security robot – and are showcased at the annual American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) International trade show each year.

Yet I’m always a bit perturbed by the “industry vs. human” mantra.

Without great people, security is just door locks of varying degrees and cameras. And neither of those save lives on their own.

Yesterday I was informed of three separate acts of great people to further illustrate the point.

The first was of an employee who went into cardiac arrest in a break room. The security professionals nearby sprang into action calling 911 and starting CPR while an AED was enroute. After two rounds of CPR and AED shocks, the individual thankfully renewed consciousness. The officers knew the employee and knew he had medicine on him for cardiac episodes and as soon as the person came to, they helped administer the pills, shortening the recovery period until EMS arrived.

The second example occurred during a very hot day in Texas – over 100 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity – where two children were seen left in a car. The security staff immediately intervened and made sure the children were okay while locating the adult responsible. Unfortunately a few years earlier in the same parking lot the outcome was not good.

The third example is more common. A staff member – off duty – had paid attention and noticed a banned individual on their campus on his day off and immediately called for help eventually leading to the arrest and removal of this potentially dangerous individual.

In both these cases, it was people – not necessarily a machine – who prevailed and beat the stereotypes Hollywood and the industry itself have placed upon us.

You can have millions of dollars in technology, but if you don’t have good humans interpreting and taking action on the data – it is all for nothing.

I think it is time to stop with the overwhelming focus on technology and start putting our focus back where it matters – our people!

The challenge is even greater than ever as the current generation are coming out of high school and college with ambitions to change the world – leave their dent in the universe.

Trying to dumb these gals and guys down to sitting in a room watching CCTV isn’t going to be effective. We have to show them how valued they are as part of a team in building a culture of safety and security and invest in their future – even if their future is short-lived in the career of security.

It’s time to make the security industry sexy to the next generation – and certainly technology is important – but it must be seen as a tool for really talented people. Not a means to try and replace them.

Perception and Security

What is your ultimate sense of security? Machine guns and barbed wire? Or an environment of trust? In the end your perception of how safe you feel is the ultimate measure.

by Pete Ferguson

Several years ago I visited South Asia for the first time. I had been assured by many that the city I was going to was one of the safest cities they had been to because on every street corner were men with machine guns and body armor and that at each of our facilities and hotels were metal detectors and TSA-type security.

I was led to believe my visit was unnecessary and that I’d likely be finished with my assessment within hours.

I ignored the advice and planned several days figuring I could always change my flights and come home early.

Usually with security, the more show up front, the more hidden skeletons in the closet behind the curtain.

I took along a coworker with military experience and connections within the cities we would visit to get a better perspective.

Upon arriving at the airport, my traveling companion quickly pointed out that many of the machine guns were either fake or had no triggers. We were able to strike up a conversation with many of the guards and get them talking. Training was non-existent. Most had never fired a gun or fired once during their training academy. Many of the guns were in fact inoperable or had the barrel welded shut.

We finally found a gun that looked to be able to actually fire but there were no bullets. When we pointed this out to the guard, he smiled and quickly pulled a single bullet from out of his pocket. When asked if this was his personal bullet, he said it was passed from guard-to-guard between shifts. His hands were black from the gun powder and my friend asked if he could examine the bullet to which the guard obliged (we now had his only one …)

The bullet spun easily within its casing and the little remaining gun powder was spilling out.

As we proceeded to each of our facilities, we found that either the metal detectors were non-functional, not plugged in, or that the guards would not challenge us when we did set off a beep.

Of particular hilarity was a hand wand that the officer waved over us. We asked to examine it. It was a piece of wood carved and painted – quite expertly – to mimic a metal detector. At least in this case, the guard had a hand weapon that could do some pretty serious damage.

At other sites we examined multiple times there were no batteries or power supplies even installed on the real metal detectors.

From an American perspective, this seems like a “not in my back yard” kind of problem. Unfortunately in the US I’ve found on multiple occasions that regardless of what security may appear to be on first glance, hold a door open in the facility and get a good book, because no one is going to come and check on it for some time. When we follow up and go to the security office, the alarm may still be blinking on the screen, or the officer will say it never appeared, or they will say they deleted it because there is no manpower to go and check on these things.

Many in the industry will cite this is due to a lack of training. I’ve found the the training manuals in the office, the officers will swear they have read it.

Training is important. But Security is only the end sum of a collective group of action. Security is more than “guards and cards.” Good security only comes about when a culture – cultivated from all levels of the organization – is created and supported at every level.

Unfortunately I’ve seen the same dog-and-pony shows in America. Guards with biceps bigger than my leg, but hold a door open and wait a while, no one is coming.

Security is a management function. If local management does not participate, it is all for show.

Your job as a manager is to spend 80% of your time creating and strengthening relationships with upper management to get their buy in to your job function, and 20% guiding the competent staff you’ve hired to keep raising the bar and looking for creative ways to get stuff done better, faster, smarter, and continually showing how the company’s financial investment is paying off.

While my responsibilities were in Asia, thanks to a very dedicated team, I was able to partner very effectively with management in facilities, legal, government relationship and operations and we were able to move great strides in the right direction. That is one of the things I greatly enjoy about my current company – management at all levels are expected to participate and be involved.

Whether I’ve cleaned toilets, refinished floors, or worked to expand security globally, the principles have been the same. Perception is everything – at first. And then you need to back it up and constantly check for complacency and increase competency on the back end.

The real understanding of your worth comes over a long period of time when you continually prove you are as good as or better than the first impression.

Why Your Employees are Cheating You

by Pete Ferguson

I have two scenarios of ethics for you to consider:

  1. You run a warehouse business. To save on rent, you are five miles from the freeway and the closest restaurants. You have no on-site catering, you pay minimum wage, you require your employees to go through metal detectors before and after they come to work. You often require them to work overtime. They get two 15 minute breaks and one 30 minute lunch which starts before they exit the metal detectors. You are seeing regular shrinkage (theft) in your other client food products.
  2. In southern India, the average housekeeper makes the equivalent of $150 -$200 USD a month to barely scrape buy. They are literally a third-class citizen and not acknowledged by most people as a human let alone as individuals. They have probably never even been thanked. A company iPhone comes up missing.

In both of these scenarios, who’s fault is the crime?

The usual security industry approach would be to install hidden cameras, catch the culprit, fire them publicly to “send a message” – right?

Unfortunately the message has already been sent in both cases – “we don’t think much of you” – and justice must be doled out amongst the population through trying to “settle score.”

In scenario #1, what if the solution was to provide more onsite food options, and provide free meals when overtime is required? Add in public recognition for those who volunteer for the OT. Instead of having 50% turnover in a year, pay $1-2 more an hour.

In scenario #2, is it really morally wrong? I had to ask myself this question often. In the person’s mind, it is not a matter of stealing to take away from another. The perception is that if you have a good corporate job, you have a future. Whereas if you are a cleaning staff, you have no chance for education – for you or for your children. By leaving the iPhone out, it is like leaving a pot of hot and fresh food in a famine stricken land.

Providing a bit more pay, opportunities for English lessons and basic education opportunities levels the playing field.

Please debate me, tell me I’m wrong and why.

Your employees are cheating you usually because you have been cheating them. Your desire to get gain at their cost (lower wages and no ownership in the company) is going to be equaled out one way or another. We have seen this through thousands of years of history in government and worker’s unions. Now we see it over several hundred years of industry.

A job is not just money, it must be an opportunity for a person to better themselves while bettering your business. Pay is important the first two weeks of a job. Then it becomes an expectation.

It’s the opportunities and appreciation you provide to your staff that make up the difference in long run.

Let us never fear robbers nor murderers. Those are dangers from without, petty dangers. Let us fear ourselves. Prejudices are the real robbers; vices are the real murderers. The great dangers lie within ourselves. What matters it what threatens our head or our purse! Let us think only of that which threatens our soul. ~ Les Miserables

Remembering Calvin Blossom – The Influence One Life Can Have

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. ~ Robert F. Kennedy

by Pete Ferguson

It was odd to see Calvin lying relatively motionless on a bed in the ICU Sunday. Calvin has always been a man of action.

We stole his employ over ten years ago when a supervisor, Tupule Poloa, working for me was picking his wife up late from work and struck up a conversation with Calvin who was working as a security officer for her employer.

Tupule came back to the office and told me Calvin was someone I needed to meet and hire. We arranged an interview on his day off and I wanted to hire him immediately, but we did not have an open position for a few weeks.

Calvin is a rare find. I’ve sat through hundreds of interviews and often had to make a compromise on hiring because of a limited pool of candidates. With Calvin, I couldn’t wait until he could join our team. Calvin will not be remembered as a computer expert or speaking in front of large crowds. But Calvin continued to stay best at what he did best – understanding and knowing people.

IMG_4390_SMWhile other officers might hide out in the office or on patrol during peak times, Calvin would stand right at the inner door, holding it open with his foot and greeting people with a smile and likely addressing them by name as he checked credentials for those not already known to him.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

I’ve known Calvin for over ten years now, and I’ve rarely had a conversation with him that lasted more than five minutes – because Calvin was always on a mission and took his job very seriously. Yet he could probably have told you the name of my wife, my children, and that I don’t follow sports much. That in of itself may not seem remarkable, but that he could do that for the majority of every other employee (1,500+) that worked on his shift is an insight to the kind of person Calvin is.

Always on the go when not standing an assigned post, Calvin was a patrol genius. From my perspective, he did everything with purposeful intent.

It was revealed to me this past weekend that he called his son living in another state every day to talk to him, and pray with him. Same for his wife, a nurse, who works long hours and has an erratic schedule.

Calvin was a rare breed of person who made you feel comfortable. He also demonstrated well the scripture admonishing us to “mourn with those that mourn.” I had known of the death of a parent of another staff member and had watched as Calvin took extra effort to ask her about her day and be a dear friend. I only found out much later that Calvin had just lost his father as well.

Now it is our duty to mourn the loss of this great man and to help others through the process. Calvin will be remembered for his kind and caring heart. For understanding humanity is all about people and getting to know them for who they are.

“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.”
Kenneth H. Blanchard

That is the kind of person Calvin was – someone who did not want to be in the spotlight – but someone who lived the kind of life worth recognizing.

IMG_4453_SMHe won the “Officer of the Year” award for a Salt Lake security managers association I believe in 2005. We recognized him not for pulling someone out of a burning building or subverting a theft – we recognized him for his human ability to be consistent day in and day out and to have an extensive situational awareness which likely did discourage many to try and do anything mischievous under Calvin’s watchful care.

Several years later I nominated him again. That year there were two other officers who had amazingly stopped a robbery in progress through great heroics. After the ceremony, Calvin was all smiles and laughing that he couldn’t compete with that. He was just as graceful in being recognized as he was in allowing others their turn.

Calvin’s physical body has ceased, but Calvin’s spirit and example lives on. He was a man of action, of caring, of understanding the human condition.

You will be missed Cal. God bless you and your family.

[There have been many questions about donating to Cal’s family to help pay for medical and funeral costs. There is an account setup with Mountain America Credit Union. Please use PayPal and type in “” as the address and the funds will be transferred into the account. Thanks!]

Related articles

Facebook Tribute from Sonny Wagner:

So many tributes to Calvin Blossom have been posted in the last couple days, and I’ve loved reading every one of them. But what has really stuck in my mind and my heart is the common thread that runs through all the posts. It wasn’t that Calvin was particularly smart or educated or handsome or had any of the qualities we usually celebrate and admire in celebrities, politicians, business leaders, or superheroes – the common thread is that he was nice. And warm. And friendly. And caring. He boosted our spirits when he would open doors for each of us and ask after our families. He made us feel special when he walked around the parking lot – not busily talking on his cell phone, but waving at everyone as we arrived or left or hurried between buildings in our oh-so-important work.

One of my co-workers mentioned this morning that she hoped Calvin up in heaven would somehow see all the conversations and tears and tributes and realize how much he had touched all of our lives, and that really made me think. Do I want to be remembered for being smart? For being successful? For having an iPad and an iPhone and being so critically needed at work that I have to walk around with my phone plastered to my ear instead of taking the time to offer my co-workers (and strangers) a friendly smile and a warm hello?

Is it more important to be important? Or more important to be nice? Is it more important to climb the career ladder? Or more important to open a door for someone? Is it more important to be able to effectively use the latest business jargon? Or more important to ask about how my co-worker’s daughter is doing in her new class?

The answers to these questions can often determine how we are remembered.

Calvin was humble, polite, gracious, warm, generous of spirit, caring, and full of joy. He didn’t make a lot of money, nor was he a manager, nor was he even (technically) an eBay employee. Yet he elicited so much admiration, respect, and appreciation from the rest of us that he has received more public tributes today than many celebrities do.

Yes, I think that is the stuff a good life is made of.

Situational Awareness – Finding Your Edge

Understanding your environment provides a mental blueprint. It opens your mind to what is just below the surface and provides you with the opportunity to provide services or prevent mishaps before people are consciously aware of either or both.

by Pete Ferguson

In security and law enforcement, the term situational awareness (SA) is used to describe your environment and what is right – or wrong -with that mental image.

In the first Mission Impossible film, you may recall later in the movie when “Ethan” replays the party scene at the beginning of the movie in his mind and suddenly realizes there was a second team at the mansion observing him. His SA was turned on, but he had initially filtered out the abnormalities.

Developing a more keen SA is a blessing and a curse. I’ve been in the security field since 1996 when I took my first job as a student officer for the Museum of Art at BYU. In the museum, security cameras were placed inside of track lighting fixtures so as not to be too obvious or distract from the decor.

Every spring time as love was in the air, we would have to go back into a remote gallery and alert the “snogging” couples that there were multiple cameras pointed at them and could they please remove themselves to a more appropriate place.

It was funny to be in the control room where we only had video, no audio. We’d watch as our fellow officer walked toward the room. On hearing the approaching footprints on the wood and granite floors, the couple would quickly sit up as though nothing was going on, grab a book and pretend to be studying.

The officer would point up at the cameras and you could see the body language of the couple change immediately. Once the officer retreated, the girl would usually start shoving her boyfriend/fiancé and we could observe the body language and very easily guess what was being said. Upstairs we’d see a very blushed and embarrassed couple – no longer holding hands – depart.

Their SA had not picked up that they were being watched.

It always gave us a good laugh. It has also made me a bit paranoid, and I pay very close attention to where hidden cameras may be everywhere I go.

SA is akin to a “sixth sense.” It is having a deep understanding of the nuances going on around you. It is developed by paying attention to traffic flow, reading body language, and looking for hardware such as cameras, heating vents, exit signs, etc.

In business, SA is very useful in anticipating the expectations of your customers. It is also key in understanding what additional services or products can be offered.

Two quick examples: On Singapore Airlines, I’m never asked if I want a drink, I’m educated on what options there are. If I ask for a pillow, I’m offered a blanket and asked if I would like my dinner right now so I can sleep. My needs are anticipated.

When it comes to electronics, I never knew I wanted a device the size of a deck of playing cards that could be used as a phone, a music player, video player, GPS, portable bank, camera, video conferencing unit, and email and text communicator to replace the big bulky grey box and monitor that used to sit on my desk.

There wasn’t an overwhelming need for smart phones ten years ago. But Apple and others read the environment and imagined the possibilities of releasing us from the tether of our desktop computers and found or created the technology to produce smart phones.

Learn: As you look at your personal and professional environments, what is just below the surface that you are not seeing? Don’t ask people if they enjoyed their meal, ask them if they’d order it again or recommend it to a friend. Dig deeper.

Act: Spend time in the shoes of your customer, employees, or family members. Turn on all of your senses and actively record everything around you. There is a very funny email rant from Bill Gates when he tried to update Microsoft Movie Player and how he outlines the frustrations we’ve all felt in using his products. Don’t hide at your desk unless you are on the phone to your customers. Otherwise, get out and experience what others are getting out of your business.

Share: I like to do site evaluations with a partner. I try not to say much (a real challenge for me) at the time, but then go back to the hotel or for lunch and discuss our observations and how something could be better. In the back of my mind, I’m also thinking of what I should change or do differently. This is why I read about four blogs for every one I write when time allows.

Have a fantastic weekend, and turn on your SA!