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Episode #23 Transcript - Unveiling the Truths of Personal Safety with Deni Grow

Kelly: As an international protective and intelligence specialist with over two decades of experience, Denida Grow has worked in various countries and cultures. In 2002, she founded Athena Worldwide and Athena Academy in Greece, a training and placement company dedicated to female security professionals. Her goal is to create a safe and empowering environment for women to receive guidance and focus on soft skills, protective intelligence, covert protective details, conflict management, and other essential areas inspired by the ancient Greek goddess Athena. Her focus was to teach her students to protect through wisdom and intelligence. And I love that. Um, in 2008, she expanded with nanny guards, a hybrid service that combines childcare with protective services.

She’s also designed security training programs for personal assistants who work for c suite corporate types, celebrities, and other ultra high net worth [00:01:00] individuals. I like that. It’s kind of like giving those skills to the average everyday person, so to speak. I love it. It’s

Deni: That’s correct.

Kelly: It’s so cool. And we’re going to get into that.

Um, throughout her career, she’s held various leadership positions, such as executive protection operative, both covert and overt security consultant, intelligence analyst, instructor, investigator, auditor, business administrator, and project manager. She holds a BSC in counseling and psychology from T side.

Did I pronounce that right? Teesside University and is trained in various executive protection methodologies by British, American, and Israeli organizations. For the last 10 years, Denny has been focusing on protective intelligence, intelligence analysis, on SNIT, or like open source intelligence, right? Body language and nonverbal communication skills. Currently, she is the managing partner for, and [00:02:00] can you say that for me? So I don’t pronounce it. Le Marchal…

Deni: Le Marchand. French, come on, Kelly.

Kelly: Marchal, Le Marchal, and I can’t do that right now. An international risk management, protective intelligence, and logistics company based in Seattle, Washington. She is fluent in Albanian, Greek, and English, and she already asked that if. Her English isn’t quite on it’s because she’ll just, she’s just going to start speaking in Greek or Albanian, and we’re just going to have to figure it out.

That’ll be fun to translate in the, uh, captions later. Right.

Deni: Subtitles, I’ll help you.

Kelly: Sounds good. Well, welcome to the show, Denny. We’re so excited to have you on the show. Um, there’s so many different points that we could go from just your bio alone. Um, but I think what’s really cool and what stood out that Athena, when you started Athena Worldwide and Athena Academy, is that what [00:03:00] you mentioned specifically on the different training topics were all topics that we actually use in everyday life.

So yes, it was in the executive protection sphere or world, but these are all skills that just make your life better and give you more confidence. So I don’t know, part of me is like, can I sign up and go to your school? Even if I don’t want to be an executive protective agent, dummy.

Deni: You would love to have you. Thank you for the invitation, by the way. And Doug, it’s nice to finally meet you.

Doug: Thank you. I appreciate it. Um, Denny, I’m, I want to know what made you decide to go into this space, right? Because, you know, there’s, there’s a long history of men that do this. And I think you’re serving an important part of this market and can do things that men can’t do in a, in a protection space, teach ways that men can’t teach.

What, what made you want to pursue this?

Deni: Well, I was born in Albania and my family immigrated to Greece when I was [00:04:00] eight years old. And growing up, I was into martial arts and I was into martial arts. Serving others. So I want to… my desire was firstly to join other law enforcement of military, but because I was lacking the Greek citizenship, I couldn’t do that.

So my next choice at that moment that I found kind of like a romantic thought, was to join this industry because now I could serve and protect people in a different way. Uh, from a different role. When I started back in 2002, security in Greece was something very new. Uh, women in the executive protection field were non-existent.

I found myself, uh, in the very early stages. back then. And I had to start, I would say from below zero and walking up and trying to, to gain, uh, employment within the industry so I can so I can gain some real world skills.

Doug: Talk about having to prove yourself [00:05:00] over and over again, because everybody’s gonna, you know, doubt you along the way.

Deni: Uh, very, very true. Especially at the beginning, because first of all, you’re a female. It’s a, it’s a, it’s a male dominated world. There are no women. So people wanted to help me, but they didn’t know how to help me because they didn’t know how to convince the clients that the female agent can equally provide protection for you.

Um, I also had to prove myself because I wasn’t Greek. I was still considered a foreigner. So a foreigner was not considered someone who can provide security. There was a lot of discrimination back then, especially when it comes down to people of my background. And I had, I found myself that I had to prove many, many times that yes, I’m a woman.

I can protect myself. I can protect you too. And yes, I’m Albanian, but that doesn’t mean I’m a criminal. Uh, so, uh, yeah. It was a lot of work at the beginning. South…

Kelly: Part of, I mean, a lot [00:06:00] of times what I typically see, again, I’m saying typically, this is not everyone, but. People who are kind of the first to break into an industry, then once they gain that respect, or once they gain that, you know, accolades or acceptance, they don’t want to share it with anyone else because they worked so hard to get there by themselves.

And then they don’t turn around and help the next person up. And I just want to point out that what you did immediately was say, how can I help pave the way for others? So they’re not maybe struggling. With the same things I struggled with. And I think that’s phenomenal. And I wish more women especially did that.

So did you have a lot of women then following you and saying, Oh my gosh, thank you so much for doing this. Did you see a lot more women come to maybe accept that or, or find interest [00:07:00] in executive protection? And because they saw you, they saw you being successful and you sharing your knowledge. That they’d said, I want to be an executive protection agent.

So did you have a lot of women basically following after you? I guess is my question.

Deni: It wasn’t, it wasn’t just after, it was a couple of years later on. Uh, I, firstly, I will say that I believe that strength comes in numbers. I believe that we can achieve more together than I can achieve by myself. And I want to be surrounded Women and men who share the same idea, because when you’re working in executive, in a protective detail, uh, you’re going to work with a team of people, and even if you are a soul protector, you’re still have to work with other people who are around your clients.

So I do believe that the moment, uh, If we have more people that are on the same page and they are trained the same and they have, they share the same skillset and a willingness to work together and we [00:08:00] can achieve more. I ended up working with some of these amazing women that some of them used to be my students.

And now I get to the details and I’m working side by side with them and I trust them. I have peace of mind because I know who they are. I know what they can do.

Kelly: And that’s awesome. And that that’s so important,

Deni: At first it was hesitating. Most of them hesitated. Some of them were hesitating because they couldn’t understand the idea behind or the purpose behind why a female only training academy. Uh, they thought that they’re They’re not going to receive the same training or the training was going to be less, uh, difficult, I would say, and I was telling them, you still have male instructors teaching you, you still have male colleagues in the class helping you, uh, and [00:09:00] you’re still receiving the same curriculum.

And extra because of your role, because we can’t fool ourselves. Even today, women who are in the executive protection industry, they are being hired because there is a female to be protected or there’s a child. In very rare situations, you will have a male client hiring a female for his EP team.

So I wanted these women that are going to work with female clients and children to have additional skill sets that are required for their specific positions.

Doug: I actually think a smart, um, you know, executive team lead would want to have at least one female on the team because of the mindset that they can bring, the viewpoint they can bring, and the ability to blend in in ways that a male team member may not be able to blend in. I think they’re missing an opportunity to improve the protective service that they can [00:10:00] provide by not having that female on the team.

Deni: Thank you, Doug. This is something that we have been trying to preach for so many years. The industry is changing. Of course, it’s not the same as it was in 2002 when I started. It’s much better, but still, I believe that we haven’t reached that point where gender isn’t going to matter. So, Today, I don’t believe that a female cannot do the job.

She can do the job. She has the skills. Uh, so gender has nothing to do with you being bad or good for the job. Uh, it’s what skills you have for the specific client, because each client is very different and their security protective needs are much different.

Doug: And they change all the time. So what they may need, you know, for this one week is going to be different than what they mean for the next two or three. So it needs to be a layered approach anyway.

Deni: Very true. Very true.

Doug: One of the things that we think a lot about is particularly, I think for the clients that you… I think serve is [00:11:00] travel becomes a significant component of many of their lives, right?

So how, how can our, well, let me ask a question. What would you be able to share with our listeners, right? Who, Aren’t necessarily high net worth individuals with, you know, five person teams that can go do advanced work and, you know, travel with them. What would you, you know, how would you begin to talk to them about travel safety for their needs when they’re taking their family of five to Disney wall.

Deni: Well, I’ll get to that. First, I have to say that you will be amazed how many executives and people who have billions, they do not have security with them. Because nobody knows who they are. Nobody knows how they look like. Nobody knows what they do. You have to Google them to see a picture of them. If you are lucky to see a picture of them online.

So there are many, I would say clients that don’t have security, but when it comes down to everyday people, people like us, [00:12:00] um, one of the reasons that made my team, uh, to create, uh, a step by step guide for Trump is because. Due to my profession, I was receiving a lot of calls from friends. Hey, I’m gonna visit Gris this month.

You know, any ideas? Or I’m gonna be staying at that hotel. What do you think? And I was giving them information. Simple, you know, travel tips. About, uh, about the trips. Some of them had to reconsider their accommodation choices. Or their travel plans. So, uh, there are a lot of things that we can talk about today, how to make trips.

Uh, easier. Um, at first I would like to highlight that there is a misconception that when you’re looking after your personal safety, you’re missing out on fun and you’re going to be in a more discomfort place. That’s not the case. You can still be safe and enjoy your trip. [00:13:00] You can still be safe and enjoy your concert.

It is just about taking the decision and learning some basic, very basic steps. Um, and you, and you start applying those in your everyday life.

Doug: Yeah, I like to remind people that preparation does not equal paranoia and preparation does not increase fear. Preparation reduces risk.

Kelly: So what are some of the things that you would recommend? I’m going on a trip here in a little bit and we’re going to go to a foreign country. So what are some of the things? What are some of like one, two, three? Things that I should do in preparation.

Deni: I would start with researching your destination. research about the local customs and traditions and laws. Remember, you are in somebody else’s house and you have to respect it. Uh, you don’t want to do something or specific or say something that may be considered insulting for them [00:14:00] because you’re going to be putting yourself at risk and you will also be drawing attention at you.

Uh, you have to do a good research on political claimants. And as we have seen now, things are changing rapidly from one day to another. We woke up, I was, I woke up at 2 a. m. a day when the Israeli and Palestine conflict started, somebody called us at 2 a. m. because they needed some teams. Uh, some help in Israel, so things can change rapidly.

We have to be aware of what is going on, on the country we are visiting, in order to take precautions. Uh, we have to take into consideration, uh, potential health risks, depending on the country or the side, the part of the world that, uh, you will be traveling to, and take into consideration any safety concerns in the area you will be visiting.

Um, the hotel that you will be, uh, [00:15:00] using, staying at or the Airbnb, uh, the places you’ll be visiting or the restaurants. So you have to do research, and sometimes a Google research can be enough to gain a really good understanding of, uh, about the area around and any safety concerns. Don’t stay only on the pictures you see on, I don’t know, different traveling sites, Trivago, Airbnb. But also, use Google Maps to see the area surrounding the place you will be staying at.

Doug: I want to interject with a quick question. One of the I was helping, um, a high net worth client recently who was traveling to some, some third world, um, you know, locations. And one of the things that became a really important part of my ability to help him and the folks he was traveling with was an understanding of their particular risk tolerances, their risk profiles.

And so I [00:16:00] think, you know, how do you talk through or how important do you think it is for individuals to understand their ability to accept risk, you know, when they’re going into an unknown environment for them?

Deni: Some people will, will be more acceptable to it. And some people will just block it and they won’t, they won’t, uh, they won’t consider it. And this is something that I have seen with different clients and even with different nannies that we train, uh, they think that if they do, if they do the changes that are necessary to keep them safe and lower their risk level, somehow they see it as an inconvenience.

Do what they’re trying to do. And my job is to provide you with the information needed. So you can make your own decisions. I cannot make my client make the decision. So I will provide the information in [00:17:00] simple language that they will understand because let’s not forget, uh, Miss civilians or our clients.

They, they’re not, uh, trained in the terminology we use when we’re dealing with security personnel. So I have to put it down simple. The information has to be relevant to that specific client, their needs, and the specific trip, and it has to be accurate. It has to be 100 percent accurate. So I will present it to my client, and it’s up to my client, or whoever has asked for those information, to take a decision.

Kelly: One of the questions that I have for you, um, Denny, because we’re both you and your husband come from the executive protection space. So, you know, we’re talking about these high net worth individuals or celebrities, but why do we need more civilians trained in basic. Safety basic awareness and precautionary measures when they’re traveling specifically.

Deni: So this comes from me as a woman who is [00:18:00] interested in safety and as a security professional with two days in the industry, two decades in the industry. I believe that the fastest help we can get is from the person sitting next to us. If something happens and you’re going to call emergency services, it’s going to take some 20, 30 minutes, I don’t know, depending where you are, which part of the world you are, but the person who is sitting next to you, that unknown to your person can be your, your, your fastest help, which, and.

When an emergency situations, time matters and matters alone a lot. So I believe that as a woman, I believe that we need to have more civilians trained in very basic safety concepts. It doesn’t have to be something extreme because that’s the way that we can create safer communities for us and for our children tomorrow. I, but that comes with something that. I would say a lot of, uh, [00:19:00] societies today lack empathy, empathy for each other, caring for each other. And I say to people, even if you don’t have that empathy for each other, think about if something happens to your daughter, wouldn’t you want and appreciate a stranger?

Stepping in and helping. So that is why I believe that we can create safer communities only if we are together in this, only if we have more people interested and actually put a little time. It doesn’t take a lot of time, a little time in being educated in basic safety concepts.

Doug: So when you say basic safety concepts, I have my own opinion of what folks need. And I think, you know, so, um, that high on the list is situational awareness training and, and probably immediately below that or next to it, maybe peers with Kelly’s training would be, um, stop the bleed and basic first aid training.

What are the other trainings [00:20:00] that you would include in your safety training curriculum?

Deni: At first, I wouldn’t go with anything besides these two, because if you are trained in situational awareness, and you know what to look for, and how to interpret the information that you are receiving from your environment, and you know what else to do, today we say if you see something, say something.

That’s important. There have been incidents where they could have been avoided if civilians were a little bit trained to, to identify what they’re looking at. Um, basic first aid. I’m not talking about treating.

Doug: Yeah, the Manchester…

Deni: Exactly. Exactly. And not even that. I’m not even talking about those extremes, but a heart attack, a stroke.

Can you help the person that is sitting next to you? Or now in different European countries, we have a lot of issues with, uh, night, uh, stabbing incidents. So, very, very [00:21:00] basic things that will make a huge impact on somebody’s life.

Doug: So situational awareness and, and basic medical training, you want to get everybody, as many people as possible to take those two.

Deni: Exactly. Exactly. And I’m Kelly. I’m 100 percent behind your situational awareness training and this is something that you know very well I don’t recommend something unless I find 100 percent value on it and I would pass it to my daughters. If I cannot recommend it to my daughters, I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody else.

Kelly: Well, and I think this is the good segue for the story. So for our listeners, um, when I was writing my book and looking for people who would, who would take the time to read it before it was published and be willing to write. To endorse the book, you know, quote it in the front. Doug was one of those people and Denny was actually somebody I also reached out to via [00:22:00] LinkedIn.

And it was important for me to find females who were in the space. Who understood what I was trying to do and to read it and give me positive feedback, or not positive feedback, honest feedback, right? Of course I wanted positive feedback, but I wanted honesty. I had never talked to Denny before. You know, it was just a simple LinkedIn connection.

Hi, you know, maybe a couple, um, conversing and then Denny said, you know, hey, let’s call. And so she called me and again, keep in mind. I’ve never, never talked to Denny before. And so I said, hi, you know, I’ve written this book. This is what it’s about situational awareness for the everyday person. I’d really love to send you an advanced copy.

And if you could give me your honest feedback. And write an endorsement for it. And she basically was like, listen, if I do not like it, I will not endorse it. And she was like, if it is shit, I will not endorse it. And I was like, I just remember laughing. Cause I was like, well, okay. [00:23:00] Right there. I know if Danny endorses it.

She approves and you know what? Her quote is on the front cover of the book. So if that gives the book any clout, Danita Grow has approved this message for all to read.

Doug: I actually, you know, reached out to Kelly and said, Hey, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, Her quote got on the cover. I’m on the back somewhere.

Kelly: No, you’re on the inside.

Deni: Ladies first. Right?

Kelly: Right. Exactly. Doug, you just hold on. But, and, and then that started a great conversation between you and I, because you were, you were able to see and experience what I was trying, the message I was trying to give, which is exactly why I wrote the book. Cause so many people were like, well, what situational awareness, what are you talking about?

How does this apply to my everyday life as the average? And when you read it, you were like, yes. [00:24:00] And, and to the point where I felt really honored when you asked me to write the situational awareness training module for your nanny guards program, you know, just so that there’s like another instructor. And that to me, again, show goes back to what we talked about with starting Athena worldwide is you’re, you’re an amazing connector, Denny, and you are trying.

To help other women also get their message out. And, and as long as it’s a good message, we’ve already established there’s a, there’s a Denny, uh, need to pass this level to, uh, be approved by Denny. But it’s so important that we do get this information out. So if we can amplify. others voices that are trying to get good information, help people build their confidence in their personal safety skills, give them the knowledge, give them the tools.

I love how you look at that. It’s going to help the person next to you because when a tragedy happens, you do, you, you are your [00:25:00] own protector. You are your best first responder because it’s going to take time, especially in a large group setting. For, you know, the first responders or the professional, so to speak, get to everyone who needs help.

And so I, I second, what you’re saying about, and I love that image of how are you going to help the person next to you?

Deni: And in some of, uh, our self defense classes, uh, I use a situation that happened in Greece, I think 12 or 15 years ago. And  I remember it because it was so shocking to me. And these, the exact. example of why we have to care for each other and why we have to be more involved. There was a woman, a young woman that, uh, she was attacked underneath her apartment building.

At the garage, which is open to the public, so it’s not like, you know, underground garage. [00:26:00] Uh, it was on a street level. She was attacked at the garage. She was sexually abused. She was doused with gasoline and set on fire when she was alive. Her brother and father, who were living in that building with her, they said later that they could hear a woman scream.

But they didn’t know it was their daughter and sister. Now I get goosebumps every time I say the story. Now these two men have to live the rest of their lives knowing that that was their loved one. People believe that, how can I help? Do I have to go and confront him? Sometimes help doesn’t mean going confronting the bad guy and putting yourself in the line.

Sometimes you can help by getting outside your home, shouting, calling the police. Because these people sometimes are going to drop what they’re doing if they know that they have been seen or by other people. And [00:27:00] to me, that situation was so shocking that that’s why I started saying we need more people to care about others.

We need more people to know what can they do and how they can help in similar situations.

Kelly: I agree. I agree. Um, that for, why do you think, and I don’t want to just target women and say, you know, why don’t women do this, but why do you think the average person doesn’t take the time or, or doesn’t seek out training on how to improve their personal safety? Is it out of fear that if they start learning this stuff, that suddenly they’re going to become more of a target?

You know, do you have any thoughts on that, Denny?

Deni: I believe that, um, the biggest issue is people think that it’s not going to happen to them. [00:28:00] Uh, so it’s, it’s something that is not going to touch their home or their children or their loved ones. And as I said earlier, and I see it from a security professional standpoint as well, uh, things are changing rapidly.

Um, you may have a regular life and nobody knows who you are, what you do, and nobody’s targeting you. But tomorrow, because… Geopolitically, things are changing. You may be targeted. We had a lot of people being targeted before the elections because they were supporting one or the other. We had a lot of people targeted during COVID times, Asian families, uh, employees that were working for pharmaceutical companies or hospitals.

And we had a lot of people being targeted when, uh, Ukraine and Russia, uh, were started Russian people, Ukraine people. So their nationality. Who they what they believe politically and sometimes the religion, because what’s happening around the world now makes [00:29:00] them a target. Now we had already people being attacked when, uh, the Israel and Palestine, uh, conflict started. So even if you think that you are safe, you’re not safe. Something can change so rapidly. So why not be prepared for that? Better safe than sorry. That’s what they say, right?

Doug: I think there’s an aspect of the, uh, the barn door theory, so to speak, right? People, you know, the people aren’t willing to spend money on security until after the bad thing has happened. And it is very hard to get them to focus on this unknown low likelihood event. However, we all buy insurance for our homes, right?

Even though the likelihood of something bad happening to our home is a very low likelihood. But if our mortgage companies didn’t make us. Far fewer people, people actually would. And I think people approach their willingness to to take responsibility for security for themselves in a similar manner, it’s very [00:30:00] difficult for them to grapple with the reality of the need until they’ve come face to face with some aspect of that, that catastrophic experience.

Deni: I agree with you and sometimes, it’s hard for people to realize or to accept that they’re not living in the perfect world. And by trying to put it aside, it’s that they’re getting away with it or they, they’re not, it’s not going to happen, which I don’t believe it’s a, it’s a good approach.

But I will say that for those people who don’t have the time, it doesn’t require a lot of time. There are a lot of information available online that someone can use. We have been, uh, offering free classes to parents and to teach them how to provide a safer environment for their families. Trust me, we have been putting it out there and the response [00:31:00] was so small that I had not to consider.

I am going to spend three hours with two people in the class. So I would say that it’s not so much that the… to gain this information is expensive. It’s just me. It’s for free. I’ll give it for free.

Kelly: Right.

Deni: I mean, how much, Kelly, how much does your, sorry, how much does your book cost?

Kelly: 1899.

Deni: So, do you want to tell me that today someone cannot spend 18.

99, I’m going to 20 and buy a book that is going to give them some very important information to protect their families. free Starbucks coffee, but you are now, you are investing on your safety. Can you

Kelly: I totally agree with the whole fact that people don’t, there’s a [00:32:00] large part of the population that doesn’t think that it’ll happen to them. Maybe they have a, I live in a, in a safe neighborhood or I live in a safe city or, or whatever their reasonings are. And then, you know, kind of getting back to what we were talking about traveling, well, do you never leave home?

Are you always in what you consider your safe bubble? Because a lot of people travel, and a lot of people go places that they’re not familiar with, and how you carry yourself in those, are in those unfamiliar places impacts your personal safety, because then, in my perspective, when you’re somewhere you’re not used to Traditions and the culture and how people behave.

I feel like you’re going to not be able to read the environment as quickly and recognize a threatening behavior earlier because it’s all new and because you’re not familiar and because you’re gonna deny some of your intuition signals more because you’re like, [00:33:00] well, that’s usually not a threatening behavior, so I’m not.

You know, concerned and then all of a sudden it’s, Oh, now I’ve been pick pocketed, you know, they weren’t just being friendly and making conversation. They were trying to get close to me to pick my pocket, you know, steal my wallet. What are some of the things that… whether you’re in your safe bubble or, or traveling, you know, we can, we can travel anywhere.

It doesn’t even have to be international. What are some behaviors or some practices that anyone, the average person can put into their daily routine to keep themselves safe, you know, to, to be real about keeping themselves safe?

Deni: I would start an A and everything that has to do with, uh, personal safety, with situational awareness, and I also say that to security professionals and you’ll be amazed how many security professionals do not have situational awareness. So for people that [00:34:00] are either they are in their homes or other they are going to work or for the grocery store traveling Leave that phone in your pocket when you are outside Especially in areas that you don’t know very well because that phone

You know, I see it So often, and to me, it, to me, it drives me crazy. You know, it brings the OCD, but, that phone is taking your eyes and your attention away from something else that you should be, you know, uh, paying attention to leave that phone in your pocket.

Kelly: Doug’s happy about that.

Deni: We say this also in security, no one can offer you a hundred percent security.

What, what we’re trying to do is minimize the risk, minimize the risk, the risk level. So as a civilian. Try to minimize the risk levels around you by paying attention to [00:35:00] whatever is going on around you and also start making Scenarios in your head. If this happens when I’m out to grocery store or parking my car, what should I do?

Where should I go? Because people are not Everyday people that have no security background. They are not aware of how to operate under an adrenalized state. They’re not aware of what steps to take and have that fast thinking if this happens, this is where I’m going, you know? So you have to start preparing yourself by putting some scenarios.

I’m going to take my kids to the park today. So if somebody comes out with a knife, like we had the incident in France very, uh, very recently, uh, by the way, that video is going to our nanny guards class. Because unfortunately it is a good example of people not knowing what to do, people not knowing what [00:36:00] to do.

You have people holding a knife and you have mothers and nannies that they don’t know where to go. They’re trying to leave the playground with sand. with their stroller, which is very hard to do. How about you pick up the kid and just run away without the stroller? So, but people don’t know because they have never played those kind of scenarios in their head of what if, which can help you to be ready if needed be.

Doug: Well, they do, people tend to follow the pattern that they created, so they went into that place with their stroller. Therefore, they must leave that place with their stroller. They don’t have that ability to break that link. And, you know, I was applauding you for the phone comment, because on three fronts, I think, one, Everybody likes to think they’re good at multitasking, but most people are really bad at multitasking.

So that phone is drawing your attention away from the world around you. [00:37:00] So you are less situationally aware. Two, you’re literally missing out on some of the experience by having it out and, and it’s, it sucks that away from you and you’ve learned less about your place. I heard people refer to their phone as their brain.

Oh, I gotta get my brain out of my pocket. No, let’s spend the time learning the place you’re in and use your real brain in order to do it. And then three, it makes you a target because you’ve got this thousand dollar piece of equipment in your phone that makes it really easy to draw attention to yourself and have somebody else then focus on you as a target.

And your goal is to make yourself a less attractive target, not a more attractive target.

Deni: Very, very true, Deb, very true. Thank you.

Kelly: Too, that you brought up, Denny, really, really well is that the mental strategies. Well, what would you do if that? I’ve heard it said over and over again in multiple different trainings. Your body can’t go where your [00:38:00] mind hasn’t. So, if you can have the mental strategy to visualize and think through what you would do, then it’s going to happen quicker and you’ll be more responsive in a moment.

It’s not going to be perfect. No situation ever looks perfect. You know, cookie cutter ever. There’s always nuances. There’s always context. It always depends but at least if you’ve started building some of those neural pathways in your brain of Yeah, leave the stroller grab the kid and go then if something threatening presents itself You’re already had in your brain Leave the scroll stroller.

Screw it. You know, so, oh, well, if I need to get to my vehicle, maybe when I’m at the park, I should always put my vehicle keys in my pocket. Keep them on in my jacket somewhere. That’s not just setting in the stroller. So if I have to grab and run, I’ve got my keys [00:39:00] and I’ve got the kid and really that’s all that matters.

Right, but thinking through some of those plans and that can go whether you’re at your, you know, the park near your house or whether you’re traveling and. You know, you’re with your kids and you see a situation arising in a cafe or a restaurant. Okay, just grab and get out of there, you know, but then where’s the nearest hospital?

You know, where is a safe place to go in this foreign area to you, you know, foreign to you area? Are there other things like that that you would suggest to people like little, you know, put your keys in your pocket So it’s always on you or think about leaving all your stuff. Just grab the kid grab the most important things and go

Deni: Well, if something, I would tell people that if something doesn’t seem right, just do the best to get out of that situation. So we sometimes we cannot create a [00:40:00] safe environment, but sometimes we can seek for a safer environment. If where you’re sitting is starting to not feel safe for you, how about you leave that place?

Uh, let’s see an example. You are sitting with your family in a restaurant, and the couple next to you are starting to be, to disagree with each other. They’re being loud, and… How about you take your family and you live, time to pay, go live, because you don’t know how these two people are going to behave later with each other and you’re going to be in danger because of the wrong time and place you were, not because you were actually a target.

Things may start, you know, flying around and you don’t want to get a I don’t know, a plate on your head or your child. So when something starts being loud, when something starts to being taking you out, putting you out of your comfortable You know, situation, remove yourself from that environment, seek a safer environment.[00:41:00] 

Many times people are not aware what the safe place may be, and that’s something that we’re trying to teach them. A safe place may be just even a mall.

Kelly: …was just gonna say let’s talk about that denny, what is a safe place what is a safe place,

Doug: …on where you are. Okay.

Kelly: …you know.

Deni: So it depends on where you are. Exactly. So a safe place is any place that can have more people that can be, uh, that can deter someone from. Continuing to pursue to harm you, uh, are not only deterred, but also they will consider as witnesses. So now this person will drop what they’re trying to do because they don’t want to be caught.

They don’t want to be seen. It can be a shopping mall. It can be your grocery store. It can be a fire station, a school, offices, buildings. If you see, you know, offices, buildings. This is easier when you are in Europe because People mostly gather in downtowns and it’s very crowded. [00:42:00] But again, as Doug said, depending on where you are, I would say a safe place will be anywhere where you’re not alone and, uh, you can ask for help.

Doug: Well, I would add a couple points to that, you know, for example, safe, your, your safe spaces will vary when you’re in transitory locations, right? So when you’re in airports or bus stations or train stations, you may have immediate safe spaces. Right for short term. So, um, depending upon what the nature of the threat you’re facing columns can provide safety for a moment, you know, they can provide cover and concealment, you know, whereas a, a desk, you know, a ticket desk may only provide concealment and not cover.

So it’s, you know, some of those things can matter. It’s safer to be on the other side of security in every airport in the world than it is on the outside of security. So get to that safer place when you can. And it’s [00:43:00] learning, I think, the process that Denny teaches of how to assess this world, this environment you’re in, in order to apply your decision metric to my personal safety decisions I have to make now.

Deni: That is basically what we have been trying to teach when we’re dealing with civilians and we’re trying to help them to understand the different risks and, and how to be, to be safer. I will say this and I know I’m going to make angry a lot of people, especially those on the side of, martial arts and self defense classes.

Unfortunately, many of those classes are unrealistic and they do more harm than they do good. We tend to say something is better than nothing. It depends. If that’s something instead of lowering your risk is adding to your risk, then it’s worse than nothing. I recently saw someone post different disarming techniques with [00:44:00] firearms and with knives. And this had like 7, 000 shares on LinkedIn. And I was amazed because I have a background as a female, I was interested, uh, first of all, in my personal safety. That’s why I started very young,doing martial arts, but later on as a security professional.

So as a woman who was involved with personal safety glasses and as a security professional, I have been involved in many so called. Uh, self defense classes, nine out of 10, they were disaster because when they, when they teach, they teach based on, they consider that you are already a victim. You are already engaged in a physical conflict, in a physical harm situation.

They don’t talk anything about how to avoid them. And they don’t take into consideration [00:45:00] that, can something work? Yes. But it depends, the person that you are teaching, that woman, depends on her physical capabilities. It depends if she is… In good shape, she has good stamina. It depends if she’s practicing that movement you show her for many, many times, if you do a two or three hour class or even a full day class in, in, uh, gun disarmings, and you think you’re ready to do that in real life, you’re going to drop that

Doug: Okay.

Deni: and they’re trying to teach things to civilians who have no idea about what’s the speed of the bullet.

People who have no idea about, uh, the, the line of fire that can be very dangerous because that person who has no idea is going to think that they are ready to deal with a person who is holding a gun to their head,

Doug: I think [00:46:00] also it fails to recognize that most people don’t understand the mindset of this person that’s already willing to pull a gun on you and what they’re willing to do and what it takes in you to be able to fight to save your life.

Deni: Something that people don’t know. And it’s the first time I’m saying this to the public is that 16, I have been beaten up very badly. Somebody attacked me and I was beaten up and I was left. bleeding in an alley, and I was 16. I know how it feels to get a punch on your face so hard, because you have never experienced that kind of pain in your nose.

It’s sensitive. Okay, you know, your eyes are starting, you know, crying. You’re crying. You have tears. You don’t know how to process that kind [00:47:00] of pain. You get into shock. You’re bleeding. You’re more scared now. So you’re getting into that panic cycle because you have never experienced something like that before.

We’re teaching women how to punch men. But have in mind, those women, how will those women be, be reacting when they have a huge guy twice or three times of their size, punching them, someone who doesn’t care to stop, and who have no concept of what adrenaline does to our bodies, and how to keep work, working against it when something happens.

So, I have been always telling people that, how about we start teaching. Civilians. Basic safety concepts. Situational awareness. The first thing, how about teach you not to put yourself in that situation, or even if you put yourself in such that situation, how to get away from it. And then [00:48:00] if you have to go physical, that’s the last chance. We’re teaching women and we say, Oh, if a guy attacks, you just kick him in the groin. We had cases with women that were so scared and panicked that they tried to kick, but they didn’t found groin when they kick, they kick a knee and they kick the thigh. So now the guy’s not neutralized, but guess what?

He’s more pissed off at you and he’s coming at…

Doug: it’s hard to teach somebody the mindset.

Deni: I’m very passionate when it comes to safety, because I believe that that information should be available and. Everyone has the right to learn them, and everyone should learn them.

Doug: Well, you’ve got two fans here who wholly agree with your approach and your desire to educate people.

Deni: I mean, don’t get me wrong, martial arts are great, but unless you have the time to commit and to practice, because it needs a lot of practice. [00:49:00] Yes, we had situations and incidents of females who were able to fight off their, uh, attackers, but the majority of those women were women who have been practicing the specific martial arts they did for them for quite some years.

So, because a woman who is in her 50s or 60s or a mother who doesn’t have the time to go to a martial arts studio is, to me, more effective than reaction.

Doug: What I’m hearing from you is it’s an, and right. It’s, if you want to do that, do that, but also do other safety training, also do, you know, um, Your, your medical training also do situational awareness training. It’s an, and it can’t, it’s not a silver bullet for that. And you’re missing significant components in your ability to keep yourself safe and others around you.

If all you focus is on the martial arts train [00:50:00] and there’s always somebody to be bigger and better and better out there than you.

Deni: Exactly, it’s, and I try to say this to people, and I, I know I’m gonna make anger a lot of people, because I had a lot of people coming and saying to me, okay, but I’m sure I’m confident I’m going to teach the ladies you have in the class.

Kelly: …is real talk. Danny. We’re all about…

Deni: I had people telling me that I’m going to, you know, I’m so confident in my program.

I’m going to come forward for hours and the leads are going to leave the class and they’re going to be ready to deal with it. I’m not buying that. I’m not buying that because I am a woman who has a background in martial arts. I am a woman who has a background in the security industry and I know the limitations of everyday women who are not flexible.

They don’t have the stamina. They don’t have an experience being punched. I used to do kickboxing. I’m very, uh, I don’t have any good experience of being punched and feeling that pain and going through that pain. [00:51:00] But there are other women who have no idea. There are other women who have never been assaulted in their life.

So even not the punch, but something less. physically harmful will put them into shock because they don’t know how to, to, to react to that. Um, martial arts are great. I would love my kids to learn martial arts for other reasons, though, not so much about their personal safety. When it comes down to their personal safety.

I have set them down. I have four daughters. I have set them down and I teach them about situational awareness. And by the way, they have read your book, Helen, because that is what I, as a mother, as a woman, as security professional, consider as the first step on your personal safety, situational awareness, identify what you’re seeing first and know what to do next.

And if it becomes physical, okay, then, you know, you have to learn something extra.

Kelly: Well, we’re [00:52:00] getting close to the end of our time here, Denny. It’s been so awesome talking with you and I feel like we could dig into so much more of the experiences you’ve had and storytelling from your time at the front lines of Executive Protection. I’m sure you’ve seen some crazy things and could talk about spotting threats before they became, um, worse.

And how to help other people. So we’ll definitely have to have you back on the show, but is there anything before we close out? I know that you are going to include a download that you sent on, uh, the step by step guide for travel safety, which we’ll definitely have in the show notes for this episode, but is there anything else you want to add or, or close with before we say goodbye?

Deni: I would like to thank you for this opportunity because it was, you know, it was a chance for me to talk about things that are not so much security industry related, although it’s still security, but not [00:53:00] about the industry oriented. And I always take great pleasure talking about that. And I would like to tell people that it’s not bad or it won’t, it’s not, it’s not going to make you inconvenient to start learning more about your personal safety.

You never know. So how about you teach yourself so you can protect your own children?

Doug: I would say if you’re going to start teaching yourself, you should start by getting Kelly to teach you so you can take care of yourself

Kelly: It’s a lot. There you go. I will just second that. I’ll just second that. Well, thank you again to all of our listeners for downloading this episode. Make sure to go to the website, the diamond arrow group. com and check out this show’s notes to get the download link for Denny’s guide. And as always, make sure that you are not apologizing for prioritizing your personal safety so that you can live life [00:54:00] on your terms and thrive unafraid.