SLOAN! Talks to Simon Newton about Michael Jackson, Life as a bodyguard, Confidence & Fitness Tips for over Thirties
SLOAN – What’s your favourite moment/experience/story from your time as a bodyguard (that doesn’t break any NDAs!)?
SIMON – I would think working for Michael Jackson, the following he had was huge. Fans following us around 24hrs a day, hiring taxis for the day to keep up with us, paying for rooms in the same hotel as him, they had travelled from all four corners of the world to be with us on his visit to London. In terms of security it was a big job and prestigious for any bodyguard to be involved in a job like that. There will only ever be one Michael Jackson and to date he still has millions of fans even though he is no longer alive.
SLOAN – What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to face working in private security?
SIMON – I worked in the Middle East for many years. Mainly between Afghanistan and Iraq. Both very hostile countries and operating in such places as a bodyguard you have your work cut out. Some days can be relatively easy, others you can be fighting for your life. Unfortunately, bodyguards working in such environments can and do lose their lives protecting others.
In safer parts of the world, sleep deprivation is always a big challenge for any bodyguard. You wake up before your principle and you go to bed after them. Often you will carry out a 16 to 18 hour day 7 days a week for the duration of the job. If you’re someone that can’t be organized, think clearly, act quickly with only 4 hours sleep and smile while doing it, then this job probably isn’t for you. You may have only had 6 hours sleep in the last 48 hours but in front of the principle a bodyguard is never tired, end of.
SLOAN – What skills or knowledge are important when working as an effective bodyguard and how does the job differ between high profile clients like royalty and celebs compared to other clients like British Embassy and News crews?
SIMON – Every principle you look after is different to the next. Equally they can all bring unique challenges. On top of that the environment or country you are working in is often different.
Some principles go for a run in the mornings, some like to shop a lot, some are in the office most days, some may ski or horse ride. Whatever it is they do you have to be up for it equally.
Diplomats and Corporate principles are fairly easy to take care of depending on the country you are tasked to look after them. A List celebrities always have the extra challenge of excitable fans and relatively often stalkers. News crews always hold a unique challenge, you would normally have a reporter and a cameraman, so two people to look after. On top of that one is unaware of his surroundings as he is glued to his camera lens. Always lots to think about when taking care of news crews. Royalty is different again, we only get involved with foreign royalty as the UK Police deal with the security for the UK royal family. If we have a state visit from any royals we take care of, often we will have a full team of UK police officers with us too.
One thing that’s the same working for any type of principle, you always have to take into account their likes and don’t likes. As quickly as possible you need to operate and conduct yourself in the way that they personally expect to see, and everyone likes different things believe me haha!
SLOAN – Do you think confidence is a skill that anyone can develop? Where does your confidence come from? How do you keep your confidence rock solid during tough times?
SIMON – Confidence is something everyone has and everyone has the ability to be as confident as the next person. The only difference is some people are better than others at using their confidence. A question I get asked a lot is ‘do you ever get scared?’. Simple answer is of course I do, the only difference is as a bodyguard you still need to think clearly and act quickly while you’re scared. Also do your best to look in control, if a principle sees their bodyguard is scared it will make the situation a whole lot worse.
Confidence is all to do with working well under pressure and at times immense pressure. If I ever feel I’m losing my confidence with something I have to carry out the first thing I will ask myself is ‘what is the worst thing that can happen?’. Unfortunately for a bodyguard that could be losing their life. So then I break it down again, what’s the chances of me being killed doing this? I can always make sense of it all in the end to regain my confidence in doing something.
Losing your life isn’t something most people who don’t have confidence will have to worry about. However, it still works the same way, think what’s the worst that can happen? One thing is for sure, you don’t know you have lived until as an adult you take yourself right out of your comfort zone. But the day you do, you see what you manage to achieve.
I was first taken out my comfort zone as an adult when I was a 23 year old solider operating in Iraq. It was then I knew very quickly how to control and use my confidence to my advantage. I have never looked back.
SLOAN – What life event or personal experience has most overwhelmed you in the last few years, how did you overcome it and what advice would you give our readers about tackling things that are out of their comfort zone?
SIMON – I have probably covered a lot of this question above. One of the things I always try to do if there is something I don’t really want to do. Do it as soon as possible, don’t leave it, get it out the way. It’s not always possible but if you can then just get it done. If you’re being taken out of your comfort zone just ask yourself why? Whatever the answer is work extra hard on carrying out the thing that’s making you feel uncomfortable.
Whatever it is, head down and smash through it. Things don’t always work out how you wanted them to, but you still learn a lot from it. Then you just go back and try again even more determined.
Normally being out of your comfort zone will mean you are scared of failure or scared of what other people think. Failure is learning, and what other people think is up to them, you know the truth, and the truth is you will have another go and succeed.
SLOAN – If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be and why?
SIMON – To be honest I grew up without having any heroes, wanting to be others has never really been my thing. If I want to be like someone else, I would change my life to be the same rather than just watch what they are getting up too. All I wanted as a child was be a solider so that was what I became (many years ago now).
That being said I get called Jason Statham often, even stopped in the street on occasions then people notice it’s not him. It would be nice to catch up with him one day, have a cup of tea and ask him what it’s like to look like me.
SLOAN – What’s your biggest regret in your personal or professional life? If you could go back in time, what would you have done differently?
SIMON – I don’t have any regrets, I don’t have time. If there is something, I should have done I would have done it. If at the time I decided to not do something, then that’s what I chose to do based on the information I had, and how I felt. End of really.
SLOAN – Failure is often just a stepping stone to success. Do you have a setback or fail in your past that actually helped get you where you are today? What is that?
SIMON – Nothing too dramatic, obviously I have failed things or not completed things, more so in the early part of my life. I didn’t really have much of an education and I wasn’t the brightest spark in the class when I was at school. Failed most my GCSE’s at school, failed my driving test and passed it a week later. But in general now I’m older and meant to be wiser I try to put myself in the best place to reduce the chances of failing as even being an option.
SLOAN – What favourite books, films or quotes have influenced your life? Do you have a fictional or real-life role model who inspires you?
SIMON – Probably answered a lot of this in question 6. I’m not a big book or film person. I own a Private Security Company (Askari Secure Ltd) and my office is in Belgravia London. That’s where most of my time is spent outside of acting and physical security work. That takes a lot of my time up and if I’m not there I’m in the gym.
When I was younger I did watch a film called Proof of Life. It starred Russel Crowe and he was an ex special forces solider that was employed privately by an oil company to find and retrieve one of their kidnapped oil engineers in the jungle. I always used to think the job Russel Crowe had in the movie appealed to me. Little did I know when I was older I would be contracted privately by the same types of companies.
SLOAN – If you had a superpower, what would it be?
SIMON – That’s easy for me, SuperMan. The ability to fly and not sit in traffic appeals to me massively. I love cars and drive everywhere even when living in central London. However if I could swap my car for a cape I would.
SLOAN – You have a keen interest in men’s fashion. What five items should every dapper chap own in their wardrobe?
SIMON – Shoes, watches and belts. Also, I wear the odd baseball cap if it fits my outfit. Suits should always be three piece and tailored to fit correctly. I wear a lot of designer brands and spend a lot of money on clothes etc. However, it’s not all about the cost, you can buy a good outfit for very little money, It’s all about choices. Same with the suit, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a suit or blazer. Spend on extra £50 having it tailored to fit correctly and a £200 suit can look like a £2000 suit. Two of my favorite brands at the moment are Tom Ford and Gucci. My last purchases were some Valentino pumps. Also, with the winter now pretty much here I’ve started wearing duffels coats again.
SLOAN – What are your top health & fitness tips for men over 30 to keep in shape when dealing with the demands of work, fatherhood and modern life?
SIMON – Diet is one of the biggest keys to keeping in shape. Stay away from sugar and keep the carbs low and you will notice a big difference without even training. Drink plenty of water also, if you are only drinking when you’re thirsty you’re probably not drinking enough. Try and do some cardio for half an hour first thing in the morning, 30 mins that’s all it needs. A fast walk or slow jog around the block, if you can get to a gym even better. Cardio 30 mins, keep the sugar and carbs as low as possible and plenty of water. That alone will improve your health, fitness, tiredness and mental health.
SLOAN – What is the last text message you received before this interview?
SIMON – Would have been from Range Rover telling me my car will be delivered in the next hour.
SLOAN – What favourite charities would you like to bring our readers’ attentions and why are they close to your heart?
SIMON – There is one that particularly stands out for me and I hoping to get my company involved and do something for it at some stage.
Epidermolysis Bullosa is a genetic condition that results in blistering of the skin. The severity can be mild to fatal. Young children having to be bandaged every day, in total pain from the day they are born until the day they pass away.
There are many disorders and conditions in this world that often have fatal results and take people’s lives far too early. But to be born into the world in absolute pain, will never lead any sort of normal life due to being in outrageous pain then finally losing your life again, most likely early.
Luckily there isn’t loads of cases in the UK, but if I could help them all I would do it in a heartbeat.
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