Creatives in Conversation: How Adam Jarrell became a private security entrepreneur dedicated to self-betterment.
Originally published in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights made history, with the United Nations proclaiming a list of fundamental rights to be universally protected for all people for the first time. The milestone document outlined thirty different articles, including noting that all individuals have the right to life, liberty and security of person. In other words, we all have the right to live in freedom and safety, something that unfortunately is often taken for granted here in the states. For Adam Jarrell, a veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard who now makes a living as an esteemed private security entrepreneur, protecting our human right to safety has helped shape the course of his professional career and ignited a personal passion for advocating on behalf of equal rights.
Growing up in New Mexico, Adam gravitated towards a life dedicated to service early on, going on to attend a military high school and join the National Guard as soon as he turned eighteen. With dreams of serving in the military and being in law enforcement, he ended up being able to make both come true in his early twenties, working to become known as Deputy Jarrell as a civilian and SPC Jarrell in the National Guard. While his military career was off to a promising start due to his resilience, work ethic and determination, Adam found himself at the center of continued acts of racial discrimination while deployed in Afghanistan. After going through the proper channels to report the racist misconduct and harassment he had been experiencing to no resolution, Adam contacted the ACLU, who filed a racial discrimination complaint with the federal Office for Civil Rights on his behalf. The incident made national headlines in 2011, bringing attention to the prevalence of racism in the military and igniting a series of overdue leadership and protocol changes regarding how such complaints were to be handled internally moving forward.
After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army National Guard in 2012, Adam shifted his attention back on how he can best serve others and improve upon his formal training. He went on to expand his expertise to include working as a K-9 handler for a Sheriff's Dept. in southeastern New Mexico. From there, his career path continued to unfold in interesting ways, allowing him to collect a variety of experiences that further speak to his lifelong dedication to self-betterment. In 2012, Adam made the decision to bet on himself once again, relocating to California with the intention of building his resume as an entrusted security professional. After his move, he began working with a slew of high-visibility clients in music and entertainment, solidifying himself as a reputed private security expert and bodyguard. Additionally, this past year, Adam was welcomed to the DropLabs family as an official advisor, working to help the company best serve the veteran community.
While his multitude of experiences will undeniably end up in a best-selling memoir one day, Adam's commitment to his craft is what sets him apart from his peers. As he challenges himself to keep learning and evolving on a daily basis, he is proudly emerging as a leader in the security industry and setting an exceptionally high standard for upholding the human right to safety and freedom. While his career path has been anything but linear or ordinary, Adam’s story is a testament to the importance of learning from your experiences and allowing them to positively shape your perspective, instead of getting in your own way when things don’t unfold the way you initially expected.
During a recent conversation with the DropLabs team, Adam shared more about his story, how DropLabs Technology can help make a difference in the veteran community and how continuously sharpening his skills as a private security entrepreneur doesn’t really feel quite like work to him.
After serving in the Army National Guard and working in law enforcement, what inspired you to transition into private protection?
I decided to get into private security because of my military and law enforcement background. I've been training in various mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since I was 12 years old. Overall, it was something I was really interested in and I wanted to come to California to see if I could make it happen. The only problem was that I really didn't know how difficult that transition was actually going to be. Sometimes I say it feels like it was luck and then other times I feel like it was determination. I sold my house in New Mexico, I sold my cars, I sold almost everything I owned and only kept what I could fit in my truck. I drove out here to California even though I had never been here before and I didn't know anybody. I would go out in Hollywood and pass out resumes at red carpets and events. I would put my resume in a sealed envelope and hand it to managers or assistants or anyone who I thought could potentially be interested in private protection services or be curious enough to open the envelope like they were getting served or something [Laughs].
Soon thereafter, I got a phone call from a producer in the entertainment industry who hired me to work on an event tailored to kids on probation and helping with contacting the chief of police and things like that. From there, I ended up meeting a famous comedian who would later hire me to be her live-in bodyguard and join her on tour for close to two years. After that opportunity reached a natural peak, I got hired through a company called Advanced Security Concepts and in addition to working as a bodyguard for a variety of clients, I was also an instructor at their academy teaching executive protection, defensive tactics and firearms training. I was always told by other peers in the industry that the goal should be to look for clients but to be in a situation where you're struggling to decide who you want to work with. That started happening for me and then that evolved into having my own security company. In 2019, I was approached by a client in the music industry with the opportunity to become their director of security and I happily accepted the offer.
Given your line of work being extremely detail-oriented and strenuous at times, what are some ways that you take care of yourself?For one, I have mental health help. I get to sit and talk to somebody anytime I want. I'm lucky enough to work with a client who I'm with every single day who cares just as much about my mental and physical health as she does her own. Because I'm with the client every single day, I don't necessarily get to live the life that most people live. They go to work, they get out of work and then they have their personal life. I wake up and I'm at work and I go to sleep and I'm at work. So, what I do to help take care of myself is keep a good personal relationship with my client. Keeping our channel of communication open is very important. I don't have to walk on eggshells with my current client the way you do with so many other clients. I've had clients where if you look at them the wrong way, you could lose your job and I'm not even exaggerating a tiny bit. If you're a veteran, like a lot of these body guards are, you already have enough stresses as it is. Luckily for me, I'm able to sit down and talk to a doctor anytime I want. I'm able to get a massage almost every single day. My client sharing resources and prioritizing my well-being makes me feel cared about. It helps me to want to wake up and do my job every day. I don't feel stressed and I'm able to actually enjoy my work. I found a job, a career path and a client where I truly don't feel like I'm working. I'm doing exactly what I love and I would still want to do this work even if I was worth a billion dollars. Being able to wake up and do what I love every day definitely helps keep me healthy.
What was your first reaction to trying out DropLabs EP 01?The first thing I said when I took the headphones off was, 'Wow, this would be great for veterans.' I immediately thought about how you could market the product to the veteran community specifically and that conversation ended up leading to the CEO, Susan Paley, offering me the opportunity to become an advisor for DropLabs.
What was it like trying out DropLabs for the first time, especially from your perspective and experiences as a veteran and security professional?
When you have complex PTSD and you have combat PTSD, one of the symptoms for a lot of people--not for everybody but for a lot of people--is hyper-vigilance. When you're super hyper-vigilant, you can't stop paying attention to everything around you, which makes it extremely hard to relax and chill out, even if you're alone in your house with the door shut. So, when you do the type of work that I do, it's your job to be hyper-vigilant so it adds another layer when you have to be like that all the time. It's a 24-hour a day career and you're always working. For me, when I put those headphones on and I put the shoes on, and Susan started playing Miles Davis for me--which as an aside I couldn't even believe she even picked that because I'm a huge blues fan--that hyper-vigilance just disappeared. I wasn't listening to anything else or even paying attention to anything else and I immediately just wanted to close my eyes, which is another thing that is difficult for me to do when I'm around people I don't know. I haven't felt that relaxed in a really long time.
For that feeling and comfort to come from something other than pills or alcohol, which I don't drink, was just incredible. For me to be able to put on some shoes and change my entire mood, that was just completely unbelievable to me. I did not expect it to be that strong of an effect, at all. It made a really big difference for me and my first thought was, if this can make a difference for me, I wonder how many other veterans it can help. I immediately began thinking about who I know that is connected to the veteran community who would want to try out the shoes and who could also benefit from the technology.
How would you describe the DropLabs experience?You feel like you're not just listening to the music but that you're actually in the music like it's a part of you. It's in your body. For me, it also reminded me of going to EDC or a giant music festival. I don't know if you've experienced anything like EDC but if you were to stand really close to the stage where all the speakers are and it feels like you're living in the music, that's how it was putting these shoes on and sitting by the fire pit outside. It was crazy that you could bring that sensation to yourself in a quiet environment where nobody else can hear it but you feel like you're at a concert.
In your opinion, what can people do to better support veterans?I feel like that number one thing people can do to support veterans is so much more than saying, 'Thank you for your service.' That doesn't do anything for anybody; it's just lip service. If you want to thank me, go get yourself and all of your friends to forget about Republicans and Democrats, forget about the politics and put your foot down to get your representatives to do something to help veterans. There are just so many little things that can be improved, such as getting the Department of Defense to properly communicate with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. When you come home, everyone's clapping in the airport, which is great, but I also know what I have to go through when I get home and that clapping doesn't help anything then. None of us really need people to clap for us and have a thousand people waiting for us when we get off the plane. It's good to see, sure. But what would be so much better for us is to not have to come home just to struggle because of what we went through over there, and then have to fight for help back here. I'm very much a veteran's advocate and an equal rights advocate.
Do you have any mantras you live by or words of advice you'd like to share?I think this is something that a lot of people have heard over the years but it's something that I love because it's 100 percent true. You have to stop looking at the successes of everybody else and you have to stop comparing your success to other people's success. You need to stop looking at what other people have or the success level they've reached, because even if you're being ambitious in your thinking of the future, you're automatically comparing yourself to another person and that's just not a positive thing. I don't compete with anybody else but myself. Every day I try to be better than I was the day before. I try to think of how I can do my job more efficiently than I did the day before. And then when you succeed with that, you've succeeded in competing with yourself and therefore you've bettered yourself.
Adam Jarrell can be found on Instagram at @adam_jarrell.
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