If you are new to the investigative business, you are certainly in for a treat.
But if you are just getting started, here are some nuggets of wisdom that I have picked up over the years that may help you along.
￼Surround yourself with great people
One of the golden rules of business is to surround yourself with smart, talented people. There are plenty of investigators out there. More than 35,000 in the United States, to be more exact.
Some good, and some not so good.
I’ve been lucky enough to have been surrounded by great investigators over the years. Not just your run of the mill small town investigator who only conducts surveillance. Investigators from a variety of backgrounds, with varying skill sets and a range of knowledge in a multitude of areas, each of which has played a part, one way or another, in shaping me as an investigator.
￼Take on s**t that nobody wants
In one of my first tasks as an investigator I was asked to drive two hours each day to eastern Long Island and, page by page, review and copy 10+ boxes of a lawsuit. It took nearly two weeks to finish. Needless to say, it certainly was not the most stimulating work I had ever done.
But I quickly learned that when you do the work that nobody else wants to do, you suddenly become the guy who will do whatever it takes. You’re not just the schlep who makes copies; you are the guy who will take on whatever is thrown at him.
The alternative is being that guy who nobody wants to approach, because he is bound to be “busy” or is not interested.
￼Learn by doing
I couldn’t care less how many years you’ve worked in law enforcement, what degree in criminal justice you have or how many criminology books you have read. In this business you have to learn by doing.
Not that years in law enforcement don’t count, or your master’s in criminal justice didn’t teach you anything, but it’s just not the same. Practical experience in the business of private investigations is what matters most.
There are no shortcuts to experience. Malcolm Gladwell argues that 10,000 hours of practice is the key to success in any field. No amount of wisdom will take the place of experience and plain old hard work.
￼Get out of your comfort zone
We all have it … that area you reach just before you start feeling uncomfortable. That place where you are content and just happy to be. The problem with it is that it eventually creates boredom and staleness and is completely unfulfilling.
The investigative industry is constantly changing. Access to information, laws, types of cases, technology and skills needed.
If you get too comfortable, stop learning and get bored … you might become obsolete as quickly as you got into the business.
If you want a 9-to-5 job, you are in the wrong business. Friday night requests that need to be finished Monday and all-nighters are par for the course.
We all want to have a personal life, but do yourself a favor. Don’t be that guy who can’t stay late during the week, always has plans on the weekend and can’t arrive before 9 a.m. to wrap up a big case.
Trust me! You don’t want to be that guy.