Episode #3 Transcript - Special Guest Justen Keating of Keating Global Risks

Episode 3

Kelly: [00:00:00] Justen Keating is the Director of Asset Protection and Family Security for a private family office where he manages the close protection and protective intelligence for an ultra high net worth family. Justen is the founder of Keating Global Risks, where they conduct security risk assessments, consult on crisis management and protective intelligence in, and leads a team of professionals in threat management and mitigation. 

Justen has over 20 years in the national security and protection industry. He is a U.S. Marine with multiple combat deployments and a former independent contractor for the CIA, where he ran clandestine protection operations in high threat environments throughout Central Asia and the Middle East.

Justen has protected multiple US ambassadors, diplomats, and ultra high net worth individuals during his long and distinguished career. Mr. Keating is a fellow for national [00:01:00] security issues with the Joseph Rainey Center for Public, a contributing author for EP Wired Magazine, and is currently writing a book about his memoirs and exploits overseas.

He is an avid outdoorsman, a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a kids’ coach at his Jiu-Jitsu gym. Welcome Justen to the Thrive Unafraid Podcast.

Justen: It’s an honor to be here.

Kelly: Yes, and we’ll just kinda get the elephant out of the room right away, as unfortunately Doug was not able to join us today. And not that all of you can see it, but we do have Doug here in spirit with our Beware of Doug T-shirt. So Doug, you were here with us in spirit. We miss you. Wish you were here.

So thank you for your service. I appreciate it. I know some veterans always say, “it makes me uncomfortable when people say thank you.” So I always try to say, “I appreciate your service.”

It’s quite a bio, Justen.[00:02:00] 

Justen: Oh, well, it’s humbled me in my life. So it’s just, it’s been an honor to have been where I’ve been and served with the people I’ve served with and people like Doug and, and all the many great professionals out there.

Kelly: You bring up a good point. And before I get started with my first thoughts, did you and Doug work together or did you cross paths?

Justen: No, we actually didn’t cross paths. We crossed paths on social media, after both of us were out of our profession.

Kelly: Got it.

Justen: Yeah Doug got out about, I wanna say it was the early 2000s… I didn’t get in until the mid 2000s.

Kelly: Got it. Okay. Well, and that kind of leads into my first, when I think about… first impressions when I talk to you after reading your bio, even knowing Doug is, I joke, I imagine you guys doing all this super secret squirrel stuff and, and that your day job is really [00:03:00] intense. I’m currently… my husband and I are catching up on the Jack Ryan series on Prime, and I think of you when I think of this, you know, when I watch that show or when I hear your bio especially, can you dive into, I know you have such a varied bio, but I’m very curious about that CIA piece of it and my relation to Jack Ryan’s show.

Kelly: Is it as glamorous and Hollywood-esque and sexy as they make it out to be?

Justen: No, maybe to some, but it is not. I’d say it’s about 95% mundane, monotonous work. And then about .5 or actually more than that… about 0.5% action. If there’s action, that means that we have not done our job properly. Whereas, you know, I wasn’t in the field where Doug was, but I was around those individuals [00:04:00] protecting them in many different manners.

Kelly: And that’s one thing I think people forget, is because there is this glamorized vision of awareness. You know, Jason Bourne, the Jack Ryan stuff. Actually when things are going, when things seem cool and, and Hollywood-esque Michael Bay – that’s when things are going wrong. We don’t want that. We want to be doing nothing.

You know, it’s kinda like… how I was, with situational awareness, let’s make nothing happening sexy.  Let’s make that the goal of, we don’t want to have cool stories of traumatic events. We’re almost losing our life to share around the campfire. I know that’s not as much fun,

Justen: No,

Kelly: That’s really the ultimate goal.

Justen: Yeah, the movie… the recruit with, what’s his face…  Al Pacino. He has a saying in that movie, [00:05:00] that says, “Our successes are unknown. Our failures are known.” That is one of the most true things you could say about the intelligence field in general, whether it’s from a government perspective or a contractor perspective or whatever, it’s always our failures that we have known.

You’ll never know the successes that we do because they’re kept tight tight.

Kelly: Right? And it’s kind of like you don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes and everything’s fine. Forward facing, public facing type.

Justen: And even from my perspective, I was only privy to so much. There’s a lot of things that people like Doug were doing that I didn’t get to see those behind the scenes on some. Now some stuff, yeah, you are privy to a lot, but when it comes to their actual work itself, a lot of it we don’t see, that they do.

Kelly: Right. So[00:06:00] to your point, right? So you started out in the Marines?

Justen: Yes.

Kelly: Correct. How long were you in the Marines?

Justen: I did right at four years, in the Marine Corps Infantry out of 29 Palms. Which if anybody knows anything about 29 Palms, it’s not the most glamorous place.

Kelly: And, let’s assume just for the listeners, that if they don’t know where 21 Palms is, cuz I’m not even quite sure… like I’ve heard it over and over again, is that California?

Justen: Yes. 29 Palms is located out in California. It is near the Yucca Valley Joshua Tree National Park area.

Kelly: Okay.

Justen: It’s more, it’s literally in the desert.

Kelly: Did you always know you were gonna serve?

Justen: Yeah, I always…

Kelly: Had that mentality?

Justen: Always had that mentality. I make a joke all the time that this has been in my DNA since I was a young child. My mom has a photo of me at her house. I [00:07:00] was probably six years old, sleeping with a toy M-16, just, you know, cuddling it like it was a teddy bear.

So, it’s just a natural progression.

Kelly: That makes sense. Yes, we can put those, connect those dots for sure. So what made you decide, or how did you… Can you kind of talk about how you connected from that and then going to work as a contractor?

Justen: Yeah, so when I got out, it was about January of 2006 and I decided I couldn’t get the job that I wanted to reenlist for, so I was like, “Okay, I’ll get out.” I came home, I applied for a trucking company that is very well known, a transportation logistics company, and worked there as a nighttime security guard.

Basically sitting in the office watching cameras, you know, first job out of the Marine Corps. So I was like, “Oh man, I’m getting good pay, you know, and so this is awesome.” And [00:08:00] then that lust for action and feeling like a difference in this world just kept eating at me and eating at me.

It’s from what they instill with you or still into you in the military. And so, I had reached out to a friend of mine, he was contracting with the now defunct company Blackwater. And I said, “Hey bud.” I was like, “Man, you know, I’m really looking for something greater than what I’m doing right now. What are you doing?” And he goes, “Dude, send me your resume. We’ll see what happens.” And he goes, “Go on the website, apply for a job… for this specific job.” And so I did, and about six months later, I got tired of my job at, you know, at the trucking company and I was like, “I quit.” And I was literally driving to the recruiting office to go back to the Marine Corps and a recruiter from Blackwater called me and said, “Hey, [00:09:00] this is so-and-so with Blackwater Worldwide. Your interim clearance came through. We would like to schedule you for a training session. And I said, “Okay, perfect. Yes, I accept the job. Let me call you back in like 20 minutes.” I took good care of myself.

And so I walked into the recruiting office, the Gunnery Sergeant that was in there, he goes, “Hey, Maureen, you ready to do this?” And I said, “Gunny, I apologize. But I gotta take a rain check on this.” And he goes, he’s like, “What the F man? You know this is… I’ve done all this work.” And then I explained, you know, what I was about to go do.

And he goes, “Ah, devil, get outta here.” And he shredded the paperwork right then and there. And so that started my career into, you know, the contracting world. From that point, you know, I went through some training and then next thing I know, I’m in Afghanistan, protecting the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan.

And this is like late 2007 to about [00:10:00] 2009. So I worked on the protection detail at the U.S. Embassy there. How I got into the intelligence community side… I was exposed to those guys all the time because we were constantly working hand-in-hand with a lot of them. And I was over at one of their facilities one day with the Ambassador and I saw a friend, a guy I went to high school with who happened to be…

Kelly: Did you know that this guy you went to high

Justen: I had no idea. I had no idea. Had lost touch with this guy after high school. I had no clue who, you know, where he had been. I mean, we weren’t really close in school, but I knew of him. He recognized me because at the time I was clean shaved, I didn’t have this big long beard. And so he’s like, “Oh my god, Justen. What’s up?”

And I was like, “Whoa. Hey man.” I was like, “Long time no see.” And I go, “What are you doing over here?” And he goes, “Well I’m, you know, StaffCo.” Or you [00:11:00] know, a staff here. And I was like, oh wow. And, I said, “Man, I’ve been wanting to really get into this field over here.” And he goes, “Well, your company has programs and stuff, I’m sure you could probably, you know… with them.”

He goes, “I’ll give you a good recommendation.” And so it took about six months for my clearance to carry over and, next thing I know, I’m helping out running force protection operations for the agency as a contractor.” 

Kelly: And how long were you? Yeah, that’s awesome. How long were you doing that?

Justen: I left them officially in March, 2020. 

Kelly: And you said you started in 2000?

Justen: I started… No, no in 2007 with the U.S. State Department as a contractor and then transitioned in late 2009, over to the Agency side for stuff.

Kelly: Wow. I am sure you have lots of stories, [00:12:00] which I will be asking you for a funny one that you can share without throwing anyone under the bus.

Justen: Yeah. I’m sure I can.

Kelly: Sure you’ve seen a lot of stuff right that would, you know, kind of break the seriousness of… sometimes we all make mistakes on situational awareness no matter how good we are or what our lifestyle is like.

So what you did was a lot of those U.S. diplomats, the big names, people that we would all recognize, not necessarily their name, but their title. We recognize that the statue that they have is going to draw attention, is going to draw threats.

Justen: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: Can you take some of those life lessons or lessons learned and relate them to something that the everyday person could use?

I wrote down in my notes, how do we make ourselves a hard target? But first of all, what is a hard target? What does it mean to make ourselves a hard target?[00:13:00] From the everyday person’s perspective?

Justen: Yeah. What it means is, and making yourself a hard target could be of anything, any kind of, anything that you perceive as a threat… whether it is a bad relationship, you know, an actual physical threat against you, someone possibly mugging you if you live in a high crime area… things of that nature and the way an every average everyday person can do that is varying your routines never.

Kelly: Routines. I’m gonna write this down.

Justen: Never, never, never driving the same road over and over and over and over. If someone really, truly means to do harm to you, they nine times out of 10 will be researching you. If they are anywhere decent at their criminal [00:14:00] activity.

Kelly: Well…

Justen: And sometimes people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time and it’s not their fault, you know? But the way you carry yourself is a big indicator of whether you’re gonna be what we call soft target or hard target. Soft target, meaning you look very vulnerable.

Kelly: Right!

Justen: So people that are on your phone constantly just walking down the street like this, you know, things of that nature. And we’re all guilty of it, even myself.

Kelly: Yes, I will admit today I did the… I won’t say unexcusable, but I did the whole thing where I was like, God… I looked down at my phone to read a text from my husband while I was sitting in the left hand turn lane, and when I looked back up, it had turned green and the cars had gone, and I was like, “Ah, I did it.”

I’m that person that I get annoyed at, or pay attention to.

Justen: And the person behind you is honking.

Kelly: Right? There’s no such thing as perfect situational awareness. But recognize when you [00:15:00] make a mistake. You talked about varying your routine and ironically this morning I had a keynote engagement and I was talking about how we’re creatures of habit.

We do. To ease our mental load. I think it’s why certain executives wear the exact same clothes every day. It’s one less decision they have to make. So I recognize that people do it out of convenience. They do it because they’ve got a lot of things going on, and yet it’s so important because yes, stranger danger, you can’t prevent every incident.

This is why it’s so important to have contingency plans. It’s so important to at least have that mindset. Of what sounds like you’ve had since you were a kid. I’m not going to be easily taken over. I’m not gonna be easily taken advantage of. I am going to switch it up. Does that mean that you have to drive a different way to work every day?

No, but change it up every once in a while and we can [00:16:00] talk about, I believe you and I were having a little bit of, messaging back and forth regarding Idaho.

Justen: Yes.

Kelly: Moscow, Idaho. He surveilled them at least. I mean, I think he had gotten a new phone in June of 2022, so that’s as far back as they were looking for pings on cell towers.

But wasn’t it 12 times that they were able to pinpoint that he had been within the vicinity of that rental house?

Justen: Yeah. I can’t remember…

Kelly: Those initial before the night of the event?

Justen: Yeah, I can’t remember exactly how many times it was, but, and you know, the thing about that case is that does anybody really know if the victims knew whether this person was “ stalking them”? Surveilling them, they may have not known. And a lot of times the victims do not know that they’re being.

Kelly: Right.

Justen: …unless they’ve had a [00:17:00] threat indicator previous that’s happened to them, someone making that possible threat…

Kelly: And criminals aren’t the smartest people in the world, so they’re not always going to be well-hidden or they’re not gonna be able to do things that I would say at an expert level, something like yourself or Doug would be able to watch or surveil people without being detected. So there could be, gosh, that same person keeps showing up in my neighborhood and just sitting in their car.

That’s odd. A lot of times situational awareness, just recognizing something is off and don’t be paranoid like this is what it becomes. That fine line of paranoia is you’re in a college community near a rental house. There’s going to be lots of back and forth people leaving and coming to the house.

So I wanna be very clear that I’m not blaming anyone. I’m not blaming the students that they didn’t see him do. Because we don’t know exactly where he parked.

Justen: No, it’s not…

Kelly: Where he [00:18:00] sat. And it sounds like that house was a social house, a party house, so people were coming and going all the time.

Justen: …that he wasn’t there at one point in time, so…

Kelly: Right, which everyone right now is probably going, “Ugh, gosh, creepy thinking of it.” But it’s true. If 75 to 85% percent of tax on women come from someone we… it’s not always someone that you know really well. It could be an acquaintance, a classmate… how you ran into your classmate overseas.

And it’s like… Well, I do. I would consider them an acquaintance. I didn’t really know him, but I knew of him. So those are the little things why it’s so important to not live in paranoia, but to be aware and to pay attention when certain things happen. Often varying your routine could be as simple as: Don’t take your dog for a walk at the same time every day.

Don’t exercise outside, don’t take the same route. All these things, heck, [00:19:00] spice of life like, I don’t know about you, but when I run outside, I need something different to be looking at anyway, because otherwise I know in my head how much longer I have to run and it’s

Justen: Right, right. We’re creatures of habit.

Kelly: Right.

And, but I think that varying up your routine, if you look at it from a perspective of, I’m just trying to, to see what else is out there. Get more curious, be more present. So, can you expand on that?

Justen: Yeah, I think, I think we all as humans are creatures of habit. We all, you know, like our comfort zones and we don’t really want to get out of those comfort zones. We don’t want to vary our routines because we’re so used to it. It’s like a habit forming in a way. Once you start a habit, it’s hard to quit.

It’s like smoking. Smoking, in my opinion, is a habit. Once you’ve picked it up, you just keep doing and keep doing, keep doing. You keep doing the same thing. Like when you have [00:20:00] someone that says, “Oh, I only smoke when I drink.” Well, how often do you drink? “Well, three times a day.” Well, do you smoke three times a day, too?

And I’m just… I’m speaking on the extreme, but just varying your routines of simple things like, Okay, this morning I got up at 5:00 AM to go run. Maybe I run at 5:30 or 5:05 or whatever instead, you know, just little, little things to vary your routes or like when you’re going to work.

Don’t take the same route every single day, you know, vary it up a little bit. And I understand some people live in areas where, you know, they only have so many routes to their work or so many routes to their gym and whatnot. A certain level of paranoia is good, I think, in everybody. I mean we see all these attacks [00:21:00] on women in their media, from predominantly men, and unfortunately men are the make up, the higher percentage of attacks on females. That’s not to say that there’s not female on female attacks or male on male attacks, that very well happens all the time. they’re just less reported. But in a way, if the everyday person can vary their routines to a certain extent without making it a hindrance to their life, I feel that they become safer

Kelly: Right.

Justen: From my, you know, from my experience and opinion…

Kelly: And another thing you mentioned was how you carry yourself, carrying yourself. Ironically, when I was looking back at last year’s stats and what got the most eyeballs, all that kind of thing, my number one blog post was Carrying your How, you Know, top 10 Tips for [00:22:00] Carrying Yourself with Confidence. That’s what people are trying to figure out is, well, what does that mean?

So can you, from your experiences, from your perspective, what does that mean to carry yourself with confidence? Like if you were watching myself or another female walking down the street, what are the things that would say, ‘okay, she’s carrying herself as a hard target.’

Justen: Well, criminals in general are targets, are opportunists. They will go after the easiest and fastest target they can. If they see somebody that is hunched over, closed in, looking at their phone, not really paying attention to their surroundings, just kind of in their own little bubble, those people tend to be, there’s a higher percentage of them that tend to be victims versus somebody that is walking with confidence, standing upright, kind of looking around a little bit, [00:23:00] not on their phone, not distracted.

But as keeping an eye sort of passively in their direction that they’re traveling, how you stand is a key indicator of whether you are a hard target or a soft target. 

Kelly: So how would you describe that? That’s always one thing, to stand with confidence. What exactly does that mean?

Justen: Well, what does confidence mean to the individual? 

Kelly: Interesting.

Justen: For me, confidence is standing tall, standing upright, hands out of my pockets. Not really, unless it’s freezing cold outside. It’s a little different, but, your facial expression is one way you carry yourself. if you look. Like, you’re very vulnerable, like you’re in a vulnerable state of confusion or whatever, which is when people are scared, confused, you can [00:24:00] become one, you can become a victim.

I’m not saying everybody needs a mean face all the time, you know, that’s not the way to do it because that’s the exact opposite. That actually, it’s going too far one way. You’ve gotta find a fine line. Have you ever heard of Cooper’s?

Kelly: Mm-hmm.

Justen: So Cooper talks about how there’s white/orange, or white/yellow, orange/red, and then black/white being no situational awareness, just laissez faire lifestyle.

Yellow between yellow and orange is like the best way to be because you have some sense of awareness, but you’re not so heightened that something like you’re overly paranoid. Orange, possibly something is about to happen to you. Red, something’s already happened to you. Black, you’re so distraught from the situation that you can become a victim again.[00:25:00] 

Kelly: Right.

Justen: So he talks about carrying yourself in that like mid-range between yellow and orange. And that’s what I tell people a lot. You know, carry yourself with a slight level of paranoia, but not so much that it controls your life. 

Kelly: I always liken the civilian, you know, I’m big on the opposite test or “how do I swap this out so it makes sense to people?”

Justen: Well, think like a…

Kelly: when you talk the color, well, if you talk the color codes…

Justen: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: Citizens, the average everyday person, is like yellow/orange. What, are we talking Skittles? Are we talking about the rainbow? What’s going on? 

I always tell parents when you have when your kids are smaller, you’re depending on their age and their abilities. Can they walk? How fast are they crawling? All those types of things. You always have an awareness when they’re young, and as I get older, your awareness kind of flowers, but it’s still there.

The orange is kind of [00:26:00] when they’re tippy and they’re toddlers and they don’t quite have full bearing or they have absolutely zero fear and they’re going to crawl on top of everything and do whatever that you’re at a heightened awareness all the time. You don’t even consciously think of it.

It’s just a natural caretaking way. As I get older, you can relax more because they’re pretty self-sufficient, but you’re still always… they always say once a parent, always a parent. Or once you’ve cared for others, you’re always gonna have a level of awareness around them. Think of it that way for anyone who maybe the color codes don’t quite compute in your head is, how do I stay aware without being paranoid?

Without, well… what’s going on now? What’s going on now? Where are they now? Like helicopter parenting?

Justen: Well, I tell people from that aspect, you know, most of us either, from teenagers to young adults and to old [00:27:00] adults and people of age… if you wouldn’t give your banking information out to some random stranger, right?

Kelly: You would hope not, but we know there’s scams that do that.

Justen: Yeah, yeah, yeah. In Nigeria, the Nigerian Prince scheme has kind of gone a long way, but, you know, some very few people fall susceptible to.

However, if you wouldn’t give out your banking information to somebody, why would you want to give out personal information about yourself through your body?

Kelly: Okay. Explain that a little bit.

Justen: so, so we hold tight, our banking information, our financial information, our locations of our apartments, our homes, our children’s names, things of that nature, things that are very near and dear to us, but we don’t tend to do that with our own selves when it comes to our physical, how we carry ourselves physic. [00:28:00] So if you’re too out in the open, you’re so laissez-faire in the white color, or, you’re a parent, your kid is an adult and you don’t have to worry about them anymore, that you just don’t, that carelessness, how you act or if you act so scared that you’re, you know, you’re like hyper-vigilant.

But hyper-vigilant. If you’re too hyper-vigilant, you can become a victim. You know, you have to find that fine balance and care. I feel like carrying yourself with confidence creates a harder environment for a criminal to, you know, commit a crime against you. But unfortunately, we live in a world where confidence is not really a big thing.

A lot of people don’t have a lot of confidence, whether you wanna blame it on social media, blame it on how they’re raised, [00:29:00] whatever. I’m not saying everybody’s like that and, I apologize if I sending anybody out there, but, I just from my perspective as like a jiu-jitsu coach, seeing a lot of people that come in the class, you know, and they have zero confidence, and then by like a month, they have so much confidence that they are speaking to everybody.

They’re talking to everybody. They’re more open, they’re rolling with everybody, you know, it just kind of an eye opener and not everybody has that ability to do that. I think whatever it is you find you can find to give you more confidence, actually will give you more to, it’ll teach you how to carry yourself a lot better in.

Kelly: I wrote that down because I think that’s such an interesting thought that I want to continue thinking about, because I’ve never thought about where in general society are we at [00:30:00] as a collective with self-confidence and what are the factors that are impacting that? I do remember reading, I mean, I read a lot of books, but a specific book, Evie Porus, is Becoming Bulletproof.

Justen: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: Excuse me, is she. . okay? It’s kinda like eating the elephant one bite at a time. If you feel like you are lacking confidence, it can be overwhelming to think, “How am I gonna climb this mountain? How am I gonna become a black belt in jujitsu? Well, you don’t start there. You start by walking into the class.”

You start by taking that first step and gaining confidence is a domino effect. Once you get the first thing, oh, well, hey, I didn’t die in the first class. You know, I didn’t do anything so horrible. That wasn’t so awful. I’m gonna come back again. And to your point, over a two month period, then you see a big difference.

But it was broken down into Daily Habits. [00:31:00] Atomic Habits. I’m reading that book by James Clear right now, and it’s… that’s why I was focused in my book so much on Daily Habits. There’s no switch. You’re not gonna become a hard target super agent, secret squirrel guy or gal overnight. Habits that increase over time that you build upon, which also builds your self-confidence.

It’s really cool how it all meshes together in my mind. So to that point, you’ve spent, what did you say, 20 years, sharpening your situational awareness skills and it sounds like from the picture your mom has a lot longer than that. How have your experiences sharpened your intuition that you can consciously realize that you could share?

Justen: Well, I’ll start from the beginning with this: When I was in seventh grade, I got beat up really badly. I was much smaller than the rest of my classmates. I was bullied by an older[00:32:00] kid and the kid tormented me all through junior high and high school. I mean, I literally almost failed outta school.

But I came to the point where I was like, about 15/16, I was like, “Man, I gotta do something about this.” Like consciously, I was like, I need to fix this. So my mom put me in martial arts in TaeKwonDo initially. It gave me a little bit more confidence. I was able to carry myself in a different manner because I was like, oh, wow.

I know how to throw a punch. Now I know how to kick. You know? So, I wasn’t the most, you know, “badass guy”, but, you know, it was enough to give me a little bit of self-confidence.

Kelly: Straightened your spine a little bit more through that..

Justen: And then unfortunately the Marine Corps compressed that spine a little bit, you know…

Kelly: Gotta tear you down first and build you back up.

Justen: Yeah, exactly. But no, I think I just, I took that experience and I realized like, “Okay, what am I gonna [00:33:00] do? How do I get better at something? How do I get better at protecting myself?” Okay. I got into martial arts. I read, I think like the criminal would, you know, I think like the bully would, how would I have bullied somebody?

Oh, well I’ve done it. I would’ve done exactly what. You know? And so you learn, if you learn essentially your “enemy”, you learn how to defeat that. And so I’ve taken that study from a young age carried into my Marine Corps career, which put it on overdrive, then put it in, and then when I got into the world that I came from, it put it into hyperdrive and, you know, and kind of put it on steroids from there.”

So I just… consciously, I just decided at a younger age I wasn’t going to become a victim ever again. 

Kelly: Was that something that [00:34:00] came from an internal or some sort of an external, watching a movie, reading a book, an influential adult in your life? Where did that shift happen? Because I do think that’s missing for a lot of our younger society members right now, is there whatever that was that switched or got you to change your perspective.

And I’m, you know, guessing here because I don’t know your answer, but I’m wondering if that’s something that’s missing – confidence lacking.

Justen: I think it is. I think that we as a society really don’t know who we truly are. I’m for example, I’m really big on my DNA history, on my heritage and my genealogy, and I wanted to know everything there was and know about my Irish side. I mean, hence my name on Instagram, the @realirishlab, you know,

Doing my research, I found that my family were essentially wealthy [00:35:00] landowners in Ireland, but when, you know, the British came to Concord, they became warriors and they decided to fight for their homeland. So fighting is in my DNA for a very, very long time. And then growing up watching, you know, like the old TV show, Tour Duty about the Vietnam guys and stuff, you know, it’s… yes.

Kelly: First person that has ever said that they know that show. I’ve watched that show too. Tour Duty.

Justen: You know, and it’s kind of funny because fast forward, you know, with the Afghan pullout and everything, and just in general from what I’ve experienced, I have more relation to the Vietnam veterans than I did any other kind of war veteran, just because of from the political aspect of what happened.

But that’s for a whole different podcast. But no, I just decided from a young age I wasn’t gonna be a victim. And I did everything I could to research [00:36:00] how not to become a victim, starting with who I was, who I am as a person. Major self-reflection, learning about my family history, learning about my DNA and what it constituted.

I think a lot of young kids these days do not know who they are. They don’t know where they come from. They don’t know their family ancestry, and some do but a high majority do not. And so, yeah, and then I also had a friend of mine from a young age tell me to seek out mentors. So I sought out people that knew more than I did, hence going into jiu jitsu, going into martial arts in general, the instructors know more than you do, so I’m seeking their knowledge out.

And so I think that was a big, big reason why, the start from where it started, where I started honing my situational awareness skills. So,[00:37:00] 

Kelly: And that is why you teach Jiu Jitsu now to kids is you’re kind of almost like paying it back.

Justen: Yes. Kind of.

Kelly: What it did for me and I wanna help mentor pay

Justen: Yeah, I like to pay for it. I like to, yeah. I like to pay it forward for the next generation, because after, about once or twice a week in class, I always sit the kids down and I’m in a little circle and I say, “All right guys. Why do we do jiu jitsu?” And they always raise their hands and they’re like, “Oh, so we don’t get beat up.” you know?

So, and then I have this one little Hispanic boy, he’s the coolest little kid. He’s always like, “Oh, so if someone breaks into our house, we can beat them up and protect our family.” And I mean, this kid’s five years old. And I’m just like, yes. It’s finally clicking. It’s clicking, you know, and like they’ll… I just see it, they will carry that with them for the rest of their lives.

Whether they continue their Jiu Jitsu journey or not, they will continue that knowledge if they consciously decide to keep that in their mind. [00:38:00] And that’s just one of the biggest things. Plus, I believe that, you know, I harp on this all the time – Brazilian jiu jitsu, I think, is the best martial art out there.

Kelly: Ooh.

Kelly: You’re gonna have people listening to this shaking their fist at you.

Justen: I know I said it, but it’s not the only martial art out there, but I am biased. Okay. I’ve done quite a few different disciplines, but the best one I’ve found so far is the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu side. Not only for the self-confidence, but the self-defense aspect.

It’s a lifestyle change. It teaches, you know, how to manage your stress. So when I’m stressed out from work, when I’ve had a bad day or a good day or whatever, I go on. I start rolling and if, you know, another person is trying to choke me, you know, in a very controlled manner…

Kelly: Right, like let’s add context to this…

Justen: …a very controlled, you know, with wrestling…[00:39:00] 

Kelly: Jiu Jitsu practice folks…

Justen: Practice, practice, practice, practice. Not actual real fighting.

Or when I’m sparring with boxing gloves or whatever it may be. None of the stress I had from outside of the mat or the gym matters anymore because all I can focus on is this person in front of me is pretending to kill me and I’m pretending to kill this person. And the only thing that stops us from hurting each other like really bad is you tap whether it’s physical or verbal.

And I take that as a life lesson. I believe that, you know, some people use running for that. Some people use weightlifting as their stress relief. Some people use video games or writing or whatever it may be. Whatever it is you do, in life, I think that you really need stress relief.

And a lot of people don’t have an outlet to relieve their stress. [00:40:00] Which then again, if you become more stressful, you become either more of a victim or you become. A bully essentially.

Kelly: Yeah, you’re like a… it’s a pressure cooker. You’re under pressure and you’ve gotta have the release valve. Otherwise it’s going to release in a way that you might not have any control of anymore at that point, because it’s gonna be so powerful and it’s gonna be so, concentrate.

Justen: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: So I think that’s another healthy way is whatever that stress relief may be.

Make sure that you have that in your life too, because another big part of situational awareness is staying calm. You have to be calm in order to get your intuition signals. In order to stay present, stay mindful, and I always remind people a lot of what is given as advice from that psychology. Or han [00:41:00] behavior perspective on anxiety.

Like if you feel yourself having an anxiety attack or your anxiety is rising, name five things you can see, name five things you can hear. And I’m like, what is that? That’s situational awareness. What are the things you’re hearing, seeing, smelling right now that’s gonna bring you presents, that’s gonna calm you down, actually.

So situational awareness really is a calming mechanism if you look at it from that perspective. 

Justen: Okay, real quick, I had a client a while back ask me like, how do I hone my situational awareness skills? And I said, okay. One simple thing that anybody, the average everyday person can do, we used to play this game in the Marine Corps and they do it in the government agencies as well, called Kim’s game.

Keep in mind what you do is you set out a bunch of objects on the floor, on the countertop or whatever, you put a blanket or a towel over. You pick that up, you have 10 seconds to look at [00:42:00] it. You put it back down. Then you take a piece of paper and you write down what exactly you just saw in every description of it, and then you vary that time by, from starting, from either 30 seconds, going all the way down to two seconds.

And then you can do that by looking at it for 10 seconds and then going and going and running a lap, or go do a bunch of pushups, or go do something else for about a minute or two, and then come back and write down exactly what you thought you saw underneath that blanket. And that helps you hone in. What you see out in public when you’re walking.

So we get those little pictures of your environment. So if I’m walking down the street and I notice, “Okay, that car is right there, that’s a Honda Civic with this license plate number.” Okay, keep that in mind and then keep walking. And then for some reason, say a crime happens in that area [00:43:00] and the police come to report some, or, you know, ask you for help. Were you in this area at the time? “Oh yeah, I was, yeah. I saw that Honda Civic there. I didn’t think anything of it, but you know, I remembered the license plate number.” And they’re like, “Oh yeah, we need that license plate number.” You know, little things like that can help you in your everyday life.

It also helps you… it carries into a lot of other aspects of just memory skills, too.

Kelly: So you were never going to be the individual who has to call his spouse to say, “Honey, where is this?” Because you’re gonna have the Kim game in your mind, and you’re gonna be able to recall where you left it.

Justen: Yes, and yes and no. Yes and no – I still am a male and I freak out like, “Oh my God, where are my keys at?” You know, so…

Kelly: Right to the point. There’s no such thing as perfect situational awareness. I love Kim’s game. Would you say that is under that classification of mental recall, like building your memory skills? Not [00:44:00] so much because we talk about, our eyes really don’t see, it’s our brains that see our eyes are taking in images, our filter, our orient filter is deciding what we need to pay attention to, what’s off, what’s an anomaly in the baseline, all of those things. 

I wanna throw this out there for any parents or anybody else: I actually played this game similarly. I don’t know if it’d be considered similar to Kim’s game, but I actually learned it when I was in college.

This can be applied to anyone. We call it the ABC game. And when we’re driving, sometimes driving can be monotonous but it’s important to stay present. I mean, you’re driving a vehicle, there are other vehicles around you. We start saying, okay, you gotta look. You have to see a word that starts with a letter A, and then as soon as you see that word, you call it, And then the next, and then you go B.

So you go down the alphabet. [00:45:00] Xs are really hard.

Justen: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: You’re always hoping for a semi, the Xterra semis to go back past you. So you can call that out or an Xterra. It’s rare, but this is what’s been so fun. I incorporated this game with my two young boys because how do you keep kids from getting, you know, riled up if they’ve been stuck in a car for a long time, as well? Play the ABC game, and now that they’ve gotten older, it’s fun because now we’ll say, okay, pick a brand or pick a model or pick something.

Okay. You’re gonna pick a BMW, okay? The first person to spot a BMW wins or whatever it may be. You can really have fun with it, whatever you really enjoy. But what I’ve found then is now my boy’s awareness wise, knows what to spot. Oh, we need X X, okay, we’re gonna look for these things. And so they’re brains.

It’s almost become a [00:46:00] subconscious thing.

Justen: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: Oh, and picking out models of cars to your point. Oh, that Honda Civic with the license plate. I am not gonna remember numbers. You could sit here and be like, here’s my number. Remember that? And I’m like, oh, wait, wait, wait. I gotta write it down. . I just have too much going on in my brain.

That’s why I love my cell phone. Take a digital picture. People take pictures of stuff that you think you might need later, because if you don’t, you can delete it, but it’s there and you never know. It timestamps all of the data that… the metadata in the back, but those are the type of things. You don’t have to come at it from this cloak and dagger…

Justen: No.

Kelly: You can make it fun. You can make it entertaining that you enjoy it. Hans learns through play, so make it entertaining. Make it a fun game that you can play with your kids that doesn’t involve fear and scary things, and you’re building their situational awareness skills.

And to me, again, [00:47:00] I’m a car fanatic, car geek, so I can talk about cars all the time. But being able to recognize, make and model cars is actually a skill that becomes very helpful when it comes to your situational awareness. If you’re a female on a run and you’re making note of cars that go by you, then all of a sudden you’re gonna be like, “That same car has driven by me three times. Now I need to change my route. I need to do something because that’s not normal.”

Justen: Yes. There is a great example of this from Hollywood and, yes,

Kelly: Hollywood? I don’t know. I’m gonna be skeptical right off the start. Justen

Justen: and from the Jack Ryan stuff as well. So Harrison Ford and Patriot Games. Okay. One of my favorite all-time movies, mainly because it’s Irish. Okay. Unfortunately the bad Irish, but you know, the Irish, so there’s a scene [00:48:00] in the beginning where he rescues the British Royal from that attack, and a snippet before the attack happened he sees a car go by and a female driver flips her head like this, and her ponytail flips to the side. She had red hair. Later in the movie, he’s walking to the bathroom and he sees a female colleague that he doesn’t know walking past him. Goes out of the bathroom and she’s got red hair and she flips and turns and her ponytail flips.

It triggers that memory of what that female looked like while she was the threat in the beginning of the movie that was driving. Those are one of the things. He’s played Kim’s games before in his training. He’s played, recall of your situation, [00:49:00] whether you call it the ABC game or you’re with a kid playing the I Spy game.

I spy a blue door, something blue, you know, something of that nature that triggered his memory, that triggered that ability to recall a situation that he was in that was very, amount of stress. That’s a perfect example from Hollywood.

Kelly: Mm-hmm. And you’re not gonna have this all the time. That’s one thing I’ve tried to repeat over and over again to people is it’s not gonna happen all the time. There are going to be things you miss. The important part is just realizing that it’s naturally there, that you do this.

I talk over and over to women. When I speak to women about situational awareness, in their mind, their confidence is really low. They’re like I don’t have this mentality. I, [00:50:00] you know, my mom doesn’t have a picture of me snuggling with, you know, an M-16 or a Lego build of some sort that they don’t typically have that warrior, that fighter mentality.

Again, I’m being stereotypical. So for them they come with it saying, well, I don’t have any of these skills. I am starting from scratch. And what I love to do is say, “No, you’re not. You just use these skills in a different way” And you talk about okay, and it’s been a long time since I’ve watched the Patriot Games, but I love those movies.

I love Tom Clancy books and right away when you talked about the Red Ponytail, I do remember that from the movie, oh, there’s flashing back. But I think about how often. What I was kidding you about earlier is my kids, my husband will say, “Mom, have you seen this?” And immediately in my head I’m like, “Yeah, it’s on the step in the corner, wherever in the closet, down on the right.”

[00:51:00] Because for some reason my brain was like, Hmm, they’re gonna need that later. And that’s that. My brain just picks it up subconsciously like, okay, it’s baseball tonight. Oh, he’s gonna need that. . And if I forget to grab it, at least when he says, have you seen my glove? I can say, yeah, it’s, it’s there. So you do actually use these skills in everyday life, but it doesn’t always necessarily pertain to your personal safety.

And we’re getting towards the end here, I can tell that. Oh, we could go on. And I think this is so great for people to understand, how can I build those skills? Yes. I wanna be more situationally aware. How do I build those skills on my own from the comfort of my own home? That’s not scary. But I do wanna get back to what I said I was gonna ask you later.

Do you have a funny story involving one of your protectees as it relates to personal [00:52:00] safety that you can share? No naming names. I don’t wanna throw anybody under the bus, but kind of one of those like, oh, they’re just like us. They’re normal people

Justen: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: When it comes to, you can’t believe they just made that mistake or did that.

Justen: Not a protector, but a protector. even

Kelly: so someone in your line of work,

Justen: Somebody in my line of work was in a certain place overseas. I cannot say where, and I cannot say who this individual was, but he was a protector like me. This protector was out running. He is fully aware of his situation. He knows exactly where he’s at, everything.

I mean, down to the minute details. And what got him injured. He was running and he stepped off a curb [00:53:00] about an inch and a half. Didn’t mean to. Knew that knew this route. He had run this route every single day all the time. Knew he’d stepped off this little bitty edge. And had a spiral break in his leg, completely not aware of his environment. 

Kelly: That little.

Justen: So of that little lip, you can be the most toned seal team. Six delta force, Marine, whatever,

Kelly: super secret

Justen: the super secret squirrel. You’re bound to make a mistake at some point. And, yeah, a simple little mistake. He didn’t realize where he was running because he had run it so many times. He got so used to running this route, didn’t realize the curb was there, and boom.

Went off and broke his ankle. So, [00:54:00] ,

Kelly: I’m worried about doing that now, just walking at my age because I’m so…

Justen: It goes back to if you kind of vary your routes a little bit, you become a little more hyper aware of what is around you? Okay. I ran this new route today. Okay. I know there’s this log there. If I step on that, I’m probably gonna get hurt or there’s this hole in the ground there.

Okay. Where there’s this little tiny curb here, you know. He couldn’t see it because the way he ran every single day, you can’t see it. But if he would’ve varied it and ran the other way, he would’ve seen it clear as day.

Kelly: There’s another hash tag in the pro column to varying up your route, preventing physical injuries. There you go.

Justen: Yes.

Kelly: And I’m just realizing that I have not talked about our episode key this entire episode. 

[00:55:00] So, because I get really engaged in conversation when I’m listening to podcasts, it’s typically when I’m driving or when I’m walking with my bone conducting headphones, people with my bone conducting headphones. And I’m not there to write notes or sit down. So what we’ve done is we’ve put together an episode key for each episode where we’ll put in links, we’ll put in the takeaways, we’ll talk about the Kim’s Game that Justen just shared.

And I’ll put in things I didn’t know this answer. You know, why is confidence lacking now in society? It’s something I’m gonna ponder. I did that after our last episode too, as I was like, I never thought about that. I’m gonna make note of it to continue thinking about it because we don’t have all the answers.

No one has all the answers. But being open to considering different perspectives, being open to having discussions with people who know more than you about certain topics and being able to ask the questions. What does that mean? Is really what we’re here about. [00:56:00] So anybody listening can go to the website, thediamondarrowgroup.com

Go to our podcast and download the episode key. Like I said, it’ll have the takeaways, it’ll have links to follow. It’ll have information in there that you don’t have to worry about now because you’re probably multitasking and doing other things. Go to the website, get the episode key. That’s all great.

But is there anything you want to close with Justen before we wrap up?

Justen: Just stay safe, stay aware, stay vigilant, and

Kelly: Stay sharp.

Justen: Stay sharp, as you say all the time. So, no, just, I hope people truly feel like they don’t need to be paranoid. They are just simple little changes to your everyday life can make you a little bit less of a less chance of [00:57:00] becoming a victim.

Kelly: And, and where can people reach you or follow you if they wanna get in touch?

Justen: So if they wanna get in touch with me, I have two Instagram pages. I have a personal page and a business page. My business page is Keating Global Risks. They can just simply put that in the search bar or they can reach me on my personal page. @therealirishlad. And then I’m on LinkedIn for business people.

It’s just Justen Keating. And that’s spelled j u s t e n, not “i-n” I’m a little different.

Kelly: Yes you are Justen. Yes, you are.

Justen: And, if anybody business-wise, they can reach me in my email at (see episode key).

Kelly: And again, people will have this all in the episode key that you can get right off our website. So go check it out if you want to go back and see what we said verbatim. We also post the [00:58:00] transcripts on the website. Doug, we missed you. You were here with Justen and I in spirit. Your t-shirt was here with us.

But thank you Justen for taking the time. I know that you are a busy man. Got a lot of plates spinning in the air all at once, and we will definitely be having you back on the show to do even more discussion on, especially with Doug. I would love to see the two of you having a conversation about the things that you experienced.

Oversees what you saw and what we can take away as the everyday person to increase our personal safety. So thank you again for coming on the show, Thrive Unafraid. Well, thank you to the listeners and we will catch you next time.

Justen: Yep. Thank you guys. It was a great honor.