“The Standard Pace is for Chumps"

Just this week, I did and hour-long interview with Ilya Umanskiy, where he asked me for my take on a range of topics relating to aspiring professionals in asset protection (Listen to it here). And I wanted to expand on one of the topics that I touched on in that interview – so here I am.


I first heard this phrase, “the standard pace is for chumps,” from Derek Sivers (computer programmer / entrepreneur) when he was interviewed by Tim Ferriss in 2016. So, let me begin this post with a quick summary of his association with this valuable phrase.

Back when Derek first enrolled in a 4-year music program at Berkley School of Music, he happened to run into an old retired music professor at his local music store. The professor told Derek that his 4-year music program could be completed in 2 years if he studied under him…and he went on to explain that “the standard pace is for chumps,” and the 4-year program is meant for the lowest common denominator – not for those that are bright and willing to do the work.

Eventually, Derek did study under him, and Derek was able to take the final exams successfully for the first two-years’ worth of classes, by just studying under the retired professor, reading the textbook for each class, then sitting down for the final exam.

So what?

The big idea to take away from this story is that we have a lot to gain in our careers (and outside our careers) by finding creative ways to approach obstacles and challenges. Additionally, we need to be acutely aware of how our finite time / energy can be squandered by following the “standard approach” to any goal, obstacle, etc.

Free advice is worth what you pay for it.

There I was at an ATAP gathering, listening to the owner of a boutique security consulting firm present a threat assessment case they worked on back in 2017. As I was chatting with the highly-credentialed HR professional seated next to me, they asked me what I wanted to do professionally. I explained to them that I had an interest in doing something similar to the speaker.

She politely explained to me that this was just not how things work. She went on to say, that in order to do something like that, I would have to basically go work in the public sector for years and years (probably doing a job that I don’t take all that much pleasure in), and then finally at the tail-end of my career, I could do what the speaker was doing.

Why would she recommend this course of action?

Could it be because it’s the exact road that she took to get to her current position? Of course, she took the standard approach:

  1. Get a bachelor’s degree
  2. Go work for a LE agency for an extended period, doing work you don’t even enjoy
  3. Get a master’s degree
  4. Bounce to another public organization
  5. Then at age 40+ give yourself permission to go work for a “cool” company / start a business, etc.

Why would I wait 20 years to do the work that I want to do? I could have easily approached the speaker that day (or others in the room like him). There’s no doubt that I or anyone else with a solid background could approach one of these professionals and make the case to them that I can add significant value to their organizations and that I’m even willing to intern for them.

Now, I went this entire article without defining “the standard pace.” So, what is it? Is it getting a master’s and working in the public sector? Not at all, I’m sure there are plenty of readers that fit that description that do great, remarkable work for their organizations and keep us safe. Rather, “the standard pace” is anything that doesn’t work or slows/hinders your achievement of whatever it is that you’re working toward. Studying for the CPP for 18 months is “the standard pace” – but if you want to read a set of books written in 2011 for the next year and a half, be my guest.

Moving on – think about successful security leaders in our industry. Do you think they all accepted “the standard pace?”

Yeah, another reading list.

I put together this reading list specifically for young professionals, but in retrospect, it definitely gets the reader to think outside the terms of “the standard pace.” So here it is, in descending order with the most important books first:

  1. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
  2. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
  3. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
  4. How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  5. The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone
  6. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
  7. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
  8. Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk
  9. "Do This. Directives — Part 1" by Derek Sivers [FREE ONLINE]
    (a) How to be useful to others
    (b) How to get rich
    (c) How to thrive in an unknowable future
    (d) How to like people
    (e) What to do when you get successful

As always, thanks for reading & listening!

PS: If you haven’t read “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?” by Seth Godin, you need to. It’s at the top of this list because it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read – and you will find unlimited themes from that book in your workplace (for better and for worse).

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About the EP Nexus Blog

The EP Nexus executive protection blog, is a comprehensive resource for security professionals involved in executive protection, protective intelligence, threat assessment, and related fields.

Launched in March of 2016 as a resource for executive protection professionals, command center gurus, and close protection know-it-alls, EP Nexus is quickly becoming a resource for those seeking to quench their thirst for executive protection reading.

The most popular section of the blog is Executive Protection HacksEP Hacks is a series in which we address complex topics (one topic per issue) in a convenient collection of tools & writings. I am actively collaborating with industry leaders to produce future issues. If you're interested in taking an active approach in moving your industry into the future, contact me below.

Outside of EP Hacks, I explore the following topics in writings, tutorials, and webinars: online tools for executive protection professionals, open source intelligence investigations (OSINT), threat assessment, protective intelligence, travel security, and more.

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