As many of you know we make it our business here at GumBumper to not only bump gums on gossip but we love feature upcoming artist, celebs and just all around influential people. We love to highlight those making a difference by giving you a different look into their busy lives and careers as sometimes we may never see, so sit back and enjoy this weeks feature! As reported last week It’s here!, Our Gumbumper celeb correspondent @Tash1216 gives you an up close & personal, gum bumpin’ interview with Mr. Elijah Shaw.
Known by many for his work of protecting those we see on the big screen, Mr. Shaw is the owner of Icon Services Corporation which provides security services for executives in Corporate America, Politicians and Celebrities. Elijah, has been bodyguard to Usher, Kim Kardashian, Naomi Campbell, Chaka Khan, Puffy, 50 Cent and many others!
Stay put, this gets interesting! ….And be sure to come back as we hit you off with MORE Gumbumpin’ exclusives, giveaways and EXTRAS in the coming weeks!
Throughout the years, I came to realize that my initial impression of Mr. Shaw was accurate. These days he takes care of some of the biggest names in not only the celebrity world, but also the corporate and political sectors, yet one thing remains consistent: He is an extremely intelligent, thorough and incredible soul. Now, I’d like to share that with you.
Humble beginnings might be an understatement. I grew up in a Chicago Housing Project, and I can remember some winters where we had to boil water on the stove in big pots just to heat the house. While I never thought I’d be doing what I do now career wise, I always knew there must be a way to better my condition without taking the easy route which led some of my peers to incarceration or worse.
You started off as a bouncer in a club, correct? How did you make the transition from that to the President and CEO of ICON Services Corporation?
I originally went to film school and started doing security work to pay for college. My first assignment was literally watching a bathroom door in the basement. As fortune would have it, the club was owned by a member of the Chicago Bulls and frequented quite heavily by celebrities from Public Enemy to Tupac. I figured out that protection work was not mainly about muscles or guns, but using your brains to spot potential problems and deal with them before they became a problem for your client. I had that talent, and built a career out of it. Fast forward 17 years later and I’m over a decade into owning my own firm providing those same services on an international level with lots of training, blood, sweat and tears accumulated along the way.
You were the Head of Security for Usher for many years and provided long term bodyguard services for many high profile celebrities such as Diana Ross, 50 Cent and Naomi Campbell, but you provide protective services for more than just celebrities. Tell me more about your diverse clientele.
I think the biggest misconception about what I do is that people think I just work for Celebrities. That’s understandable of course because those are the most recognizable (and the ones the Blogger’s like to post photos of). In fact a great deal of my business involves security consulting for some of the largest corporations in the world. Working regularly with Ford Motor Corporation or being a part of the Democratic National Convention is just as rewarding as sitting 2nd row at the Grammy’s.
Well first off you’re absolutely right; the majority of artists DO want to interact with their fans and the public. Let’s be real, if an artist is a corporation, then the fans are the shareholders. With that said, unrestricted access is just not possible either because of scheduling or security concerns. For every autograph they sign or picture they take there is another one just around the corner, which means not everyone is going to get one. The challenge is balancing accessibility with the need for security.
I’ve watched some of the footage of your Executive Protection Training courses. I don’t know if people realize just how serious, proactive, precise and detailed you have to be. What are the qualifications required?
Many people think that just because you are an ex-linebacker or spent some time in the military, you can do VIP Protection effectively. And while many “fake it ‘till they make it” It’s the equivalent of street ball versus the NBA. There’s a technical skill involved with the profession, and unfortunately you can read a lot about these celebrities whose names end up trashed because their bodyguards made a dumb decision.
When and where do you hold the Executive Protection Training courses?
I hold the courses quarterly at our corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, MN. The biggest challenge is scheduling classes around the one-on-one work I personally do with clients. It’s a massive undertaking, but when I take a look at some of the graduates of the program and see them successfully working in the industry as professionals as opposed to “Buddyguards” it’s rewarding.
I think the skills that I teach are not only useful for security professionals but also for everyday individuals. Women in particular can be empowered just by learning some of the techniques, so I developed a course where they could “be their own bodyguard”. I start off by asking the question, “If you walked in your child’s room and found an attacker standing over the bed, what would you do”? By the end of the class they are not only thinking in terms of “situational awareness” but they are also putting guys over 6’ tall squarely on their butts, and I’ve got the bruises to prove it!
What do you love most about what you do?
Traveling the world is definitely high on the list. I know many guys from my old neighborhood who have never left the city. However, I get the greatest satisfaction in knowing that the things I do help others. Everyday I’m faced with potential problems or challenges and I get to use my talents to prevent or overcome “issues” — the biggest of which could be matters of life and death.
The women will kill me if I don’t ask…Are you single? What qualities do you look for in a woman?
This might be my first no comment =) however, knowing you like I do, you’d end up doing a background check! So for the record, I’m newly single. Relationships are tough particularly in the business that I’m in, so all I’ll say is that it takes a unique person to deal with me. Intelligence + Beauty + Self Confidence + Lot’s of Patience = a great starting point.
As trained bodyguards people in my profession have a unique set of talents. My philosophy is; why just provide those for the famous or the wealthy? Giving back to society is also important. The ISC Safety Net is a program I started that provides free security services for women that are victims of domestic abuse. It’s no secret that law enforcement resources are stretched thin, so we fill that gap by escorting victims home to pick up belongings or to court appearances where they may have to face their abusive partner. For as long as I can remember my older brother has been involved in social issues, and I would cite him as my number one source of inspiration. He recently testified to congress about women’s issues, so he continues to motivate me to do more.
Tell us about your other philanthropic endeavors…you volunteered without hesitation to come to Ohio and speak to the youth in the organizations that I work with. Where does that passion and determination to positively impact lives come from?
Outside of family, I didn’t have many role models growing up. I feel I’ve been blessed in my life and career and while hard work and determination got me here, I easily could have gone down the wrong path. My mother used to speak at prisons every weekend to help motivate inmates to reevaluate their lives. I want to carry that torch and help others any way I can, and I know with youth, I “speak the language”. I like my Air Force 1’s crispy white, am covered in tattoos, and know all the hottest verses their favorite rapper spits. However, I also understand that there’s more to life than the accumulation of “things”, and that’s the perspective I want to give the youth.
I happen to know that you enjoy Nina Simone’s music. What are your favorite artists/musicians past and present?
Musically I cross a broad spectrum so the list is pretty eclectic, from Nina Simone & Donny Hathaway to 50 Cent & Jay Electronica. Throw in Biggie, The Doors, & Frank Ocean and you’ll see I’m in a few different aisles at Best Buy.
In the rare occasions that you are able to rest, how do you relax?
I actually had to Google the word as it’s been so long since I’ve used it! My life is so fast paced that I really enjoy quiet moments. Loosing myself to a good book or watching Star Wars for the 121st time. Reading this back, I sound kind of nerdy!
Do you utilize social media to aid you in executing your protective services? How?
My take on social media is much different than some of my contemporaries. Many in my profession dislike it because they fear that confidential information may be given away. While that can be true if you are careless, I use it to connect and network with people all over the world. Social Media has also been one of the driving forces that helped me take my brand from regional to global. Finally, and most importantly, I also use it to inspire. Someone might see or hear something I do and use that to propel themselves to even greater heights.
What is next for Elijah Shaw?
Lots of big plans, but I have to keep them under wraps for now. The goal for me is to continue building the brand globally without compromising the high level of service that my staff and I provide my clients. I don’t need to be the biggest, I just need to be the best, and I truly believe I can do it without compromising my integrity.
To learn more about Mr. Elijah Shaw you can check him out at: