Show Notes: All About Private Investigations with Edward Ajaeb | Episode #7


I can’t believe it took me until episode 7 to finally interview a private investigator! This episode was a really cool opportunity for us all to learn from Edward Ajaeb, who is the president of Nighthawk Strategies, a private investigations and intelligence firm based in Washington, D.C. During this conversation, Ed shared his thoughts on what it takes to be successful as a private investigator, what types of projects he finds himself working on day-to-day, and of course his advice for young professionals interested in pursuing careers as private investigators.

Big Ideas from This Episode

  1. Working as a paralegal gave Ed great experience and skills that primed him to excel as an investigator. Organization, careful attention to detail, and research methods were all important skills that he developed as a paralegal — which all directly transferred over to private investigative work.
  2. It’s important to understand the necessity of research methods outside of the online world (e.g. knowing how to hunt down historical court records), and not just being competent with online research methods.
  3. Essential skills for investigators mentioned by Ed included the following:

    (i) Research skills – this is the meat and potatoes of private investigative work

    (ii) Ethics – with all these new tools, there’s very little guidance on how to use them and as investigators, we need to maintain the highest level of trust with our clients

    (iii) Customer Focus – at the end of the day we all support clients whether they are internal or external and we must have a grounded understanding of the problem we are helping them solve. Additionally, we need to understand how best to deliver and communicate information to clients so that it’s useful in helping them solve their problem.

    (iv) Have a curious mind for finding answers and building a story based on facts for your clients.

    (v) Adaptability – being able to adapt to changing situations, changing tools / techniques, and the needs of clients
  4. Engaging with the community of investigators on LinkedIn is a great way to stay on top of new trends in investigations (tools, techniques, regulatory changes, and resources).


The Art of Investigation by Binns and Sackman

Open Source Intelligence Techniques: Resources for Searching and Analyzing Online Information by Bazzell

Use CONTROL + F to search the transcript below if you want to learn more!

Transcript from this episode (#7)

*Note: this transcript was generated using automated software, and my not be a perfect transcription. But I hope you find it useful.

Travis  1:28  
Thank you. So to kick things off, I wanted to ask you if you could share a little bit about about your role in your organization understand you're the president of your own investigative firm, and like what types of projects do you find yourself working o

Ed  1:46  
Yeah, sure. So yep, I am the president of Nighthawk strategies, which is a private investigation company. We primarily do research based investigations. So that's back background checks, legal investigations, due diligence and specialty in online and social media investigations. So typically, we work with either law firms, corporate security teams, sometimes private individuals and other business partners and things like that to provide information intelligence they need for a litigation matter that they're working on. Or a it could be a personnel issue or security issue, the things that arise in typical, and typically, in the legal field and business world.

Travis  2:38  
Yeah, it's funny. So in the last year, I made kind of like a small project out of learning more about some of the big background, investigative firms and like some of the general practices of corporate security managers, or HR managers. And yeah, when it came to background checks, that was one really interesting area where a lot of them seem to be like TAS some of that work out to investigator firms, because it's so complicated for those organizations to do their own background checks. So for me, that's one area that's super interesting, as well, as you mentioned it.

Ed  3:15  
Yeah, absolutely. And especially so since you mentioned, how background checks play a particularly important role. It's often step one for a lot of security professionals and an HR is that there are different kinds of background checks. When you're looking at someone for employment or credit or housing. There are a lot of rules and regulations, both on the federal and state level that govern what you can and cannot look at what you can and cannot consider as part of a an employment based background check. So that's, that's another layer of complexity. Like you mentioned, that really gets involved when when, when firms are looking at how to do background checks and permissible purposes and that sort of thing.

Travis  3:58  
Right, yeah, it's such a complicated area. And if we could take a step back, so what inspired you or like, what early influences kind of got you down the path of getting into investigations? Was there anything that inspired you early on?

Ed  4:16  
Yeah, a little bit, I would say, over the last 10 years or so, is where I've sort of had an evolution of, of many different careers kind of melted together to get to where I am today. And ultimately, I ended up creating and running a private investigation business somewhat by accident. So 10 years ago, when I was in law, I guess we're, it's 11 years now. When I was an undergraduate. In college, I worked a job in physical security. I was working as a as an EMT and the security officers a matter of fact, in a part time role during college, where I learned a lot about the ins and outs of SSI. safety and security procedure report writing was a huge one. And learning about how physical security and customer relations worked together to ensure the success of a business. And then, after college, I ended up working as a paralegal for the US Department of Justice here in DC, a totally different, totally different setting a totally different exposure to a different industry. But still, in a lot of ways it was it we were I was my role as a paralegal was to do a lot of legal research and a lot of background intelligence gathering for legal cases. So eventually, I made my way to a another company in DC doing research. This is for a nonprofit organization. And I was exposed to the side of research that is more focused on the social media intelligence and Oh, synth, and sock meant and these sorts of things. So when I started my business, I kind of took different components from these three careers as inspiration to put put into motion, a business that was focused on security, intelligence, customer service, legal, all these sorts of things blended together that sort of acted as independent influences to me to building my business. So if you asked me 10 years ago, I probably wouldn't have said that I would end up as a private investigator, let alone owning my own business as one. But it's all of those things have been helpful. And all those things sort of led me at it and contributed to, to to where I'm at now.

Travis  6:46  
Yeah, that's a really cool career path. And you mentioned being a paralegal. And I feel like I've mentioned, I've met so many people with investigative backgrounds over the years that may have gotten started out doing paralegal type work. Since I'm, this is something I know less about, could you share a little bit about, like, what's the day to day have a paralegal look like? And how's that kind of set you up for success later as an investigator?

Ed  7:13  
Yeah, great question. Um, so I was a paralegal for, for the federal government for the for the Department of Justice, and I was in their antitrust division. So the antitrust, antitrust law is all about, you know, preventing monopolies preventing companies from colluding with each other to fix prices or to raise prices and things like that. And about 10 to 12 years ago, when I was there. 1011 years ago, when I was there I worked on, it happened to be a very litigious time in the history of the DOJ, and particularly antitrust, where we were working on major, major corporate mergers. The government was challenging some of these mergers so that we had to go to court, there were suits filed. And there were also many ongoing investigations into different kinds of antitrust and collusion, matters of price, fixing matters and things like that. So as a paralegal, we were very busy. So a lot of times I was doing the work of what I was told, sometimes the attorneys focus on reviewing documents and reviewing motions, but the paralegals often stepped into ... Would reviewing this information. So as a paralegal, I would keep track of many of the different documents being passed back and forth and discovery. But oftentimes one of the things that I love to do about one of the things I loved about being a paralegal was actually getting into the details of reviewing some of the documents. If we were trying to prove, for example, that company, a colluded with Company B to set the price of shoes, for example, I'm just making this up at $100, a pair, then my job was to go and look for any evidence in the documents that we got in discovery that would show that kind of relationship. So it as a paralegal, I was really involved in research and trying to find evidence that was consistent with whatever theory it was that we were going for the theory that there was price fixing going on. So it's an important role to help attorneys and support attorneys in building a case and finding and organizing as much evidence as possible.

Travis  9:35  
I see. Yeah, that sounds like perfect experience. And I imagine you're probably using a lot of the same methodologies and a lot of the same tools that you're even using today when you're doing investigations, right.

Ed  9:48  
Yeah. Oh, yeah, that's right. I definitely one skill set that I develop there that I still use is, you know, organization, careful attention to detail, and a lot of the tools as well. And, you know, just the methodologies that you use as a paralegal, when you're reviewing seemingly billions of pages of documents, it's important to stay organized. And it's important to have a methodology. And it's important to stay focused on what the legal argument is. So as a private investigator, it's important to stay focused on what the mission is, what it was, what is it here that we are trying to prove, or disprove or find. So that way, it's very easy to get pulled down rabbit holes and, and start, you know, chasing leads, which is fine. And everything, as long as you're, you're tying it back to the overall purpose and the overall theory. And I think, in that way, being a paralegal and being a PI have very much in common.

Travis  10:44  
Yeah, that's a good way of looking at it. And like today, being a PI and running your own firm, what does your day to day typically look like? Is there any typical day? Or is it a little bit of everything,

Ed  10:59  
it's a little bit of everything, I'd say. One of the things I do enjoy very much is, is working back and forth with clients and with attorneys. And, and corresponding with them and as, as a PII in the 21st century, it's not, it's, it's much different from how it's often portrayed in, in movies and TV, I'd say as in my particular job, in my particular business, my day to day is often in front of a computer. And that's, and that's okay. That's, and it's very exciting to get work done that way. And there's definitely a lot of tasks and, and projects that can be accomplished that way. And my day to day often involves getting really into the weeds of doing research and using websites, databases, social media platforms, digging through public records online, trying to find out what types of resources and databases and other other kinds of repositories are out there for, for doing my investigation. So a lot of it is putting together puzzles, and a lot of it is also just going out and fishing a lot on the internet for for finding what what sort of records I need. So it's, it's not as much of the physical chasing and sleuthing, that that's shown in the movies, but it's definitely a day to day that I find interesting. And every day is unique.

Travis  12:40  
I see. Yeah. And I also think the same thing, it's it's kind of funny how there's like a stereotypical portrayal of private investigators on every TV show where it's like a retired New York cop who's now working as a private investigator. But um, I imagine also, because you're like, relatively, you're relatively younger in your career. So I'm curious, are there? Like, is do you find that your approach is much different from some of your peers who have like very different backgrounds who maybe worked in law enforcement or or worked here? Do you find that your approach tends to be different from other investigators that you meet?

Ed  13:23  
Yeah, that's a good question. I do see that there is, there can be a lot of differences in the approach and methodologies between investigators, and particularly people who've had a very long investigative career, back when everything really was kind of physically chasing down records and paper files. And now I think when now that we're getting into an era where we're using a lot of technology, a lot of a lot, but not all, it's very important. Remember, not not everything is online. So it's, it's definitely important to have a skill set of being somewhat of an old school pi or an old school, gumshoe and being able to know where to go, when you can't find something online. Just the other day, I got a request from a client to track down some court records from the early 1980s. And that, so happened that, you know that those in that particular county where I was looking that the records online did not go back that far, they went back only to 1990. And then anything prior to that you had to physically go to the courthouse to look for so as, as more experienced investigators have done for many years, it's important to have those skills and to remember those skills and sort of combine them with the the online resources that we have now at our disposal. So the methodologies or rather, I should say the tools and techniques may be shifting, but the methodologies and the underlying skills are definitely still important, you still have to be very curious, you still have to be very motivated to go and dig deeper to find what it is that you are looking for.

Travis  15:10  
That's an excellent point about having the right mix of like, technical skills when it comes to doing online research. And then also, yeah, knowing where to go when you need something incredibly niche, like court records from the 80s. That's, that's really interesting. And one thing, I'm curious to learn from you, because I know, like online research seems to be something where there's always new trends, tools are always changing, and things are constantly evolving. So I was curious, how did you go about developing some of your, some of your research skills?

Ed  15:45  
Yes. So particularly when it comes to online, and social media research, it's important to stay on top of the different tools that are out there that different trends, so I stay current on it through attending conferences, learning as much as I can, which, as, as a business owner, simultaneous to being a PIs can be challenging to find the time to always continue professional development. But there are so many great resources out there and books and courses and classes. That that one could attend to, to learn about those skills and to continue to stay on top of those tools and techniques. But often times I find it's just coming up through conversations or engaging with people on LinkedIn, or social media and seeing what resources people are sharing. And staying on top of the news that way, there's new resources that kind of come and go, I've got so many things in my in my bookmarks that I use on a regular basis. But sometimes those websites go away and new ones come up. So it's, you know, staying connected with the investigation, community, API, community and security communities where I really learned to learn about what's new and the different things that are changing on the landscape.

Travis  17:18  
Yeah, those are great points to like, you mentioned conferences, and I think that's actually how I stumbled across your name. I think it was a few osmosis conferences ago, I attended one of the presentations that you gave. So yeah, conferences is definitely huge, being able to network with some of your peers, whether that's in person, whether that's online. And then of course, news is important. And also, I find there's always like a few really good thought leaders and like some of the different security nations who tend to be like, right on top of trends, and there's always posting some of the most relevant material. So yeah, I think another part is, and I know you follow some of these same people on LinkedIn is following thought leaders who are constantly following trends and some of the latest, some of the latest events that impact us.

Ed  18:10  
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I think, just this week, I learned about a couple of things that about browser privacy. And I posted something about the site, which for 20 years, people use to find out how much traffic a website was getting that that site was wound down back this month. So you're right, that the thought leaders are out there, and they're often sharing things that you don't need to pay necessary. You don't need to pay to get necessarily, so it's really about staying on top of the industry that way through following folks who are, you know, very generous to share what they know about what's going on.

Travis  18:48  
Right. And another thing I was really curious about, and I imagine your answer would be pretty broad since you're a business owner, and then you're also getting your hands dirty with all the investigative stuff. But are there any particular skill areas or competencies that you think make someone successful and running their own PII firm or being a successful PII?

Ed  19:13  
Yeah, definitely. So I think as being a successful PII, it's important to have good research skills. And this is particular to maybe I should say that it's particular to the kind of PII work that I do. So there are certain skills and competencies that I am not great at. There are other many PIs that do that would probably do a much better job in those particular areas. One good example is accident reconstruction. I don't have the background to do that. But there are some PIs who are out in the field and they've looked and reconstructed many many accidents that makes them an expert in that field. So the kind of work I do is more based on research is online intelligence background checks. Lots of public records. So for the that sort of service area, I would definitely say that research is a is a top skill, a top competency. Ethics is another huge one, I think that we are, you know, in a time where we have a lot of information at our disposal, and a lot of ways to get that information through Oh, synth. And through social media that ethics have become more and more important and more in the spotlight lately, because they're with all these new tools, there really aren't many rules written about ethics and about the ethical ways to collect information using information. So that is an important competency that people should follow very closely. Because as a investigator, you have to be objective, and you have to be trustworthy. So having a good set of, you know, having a good ethical adherence to, to rules and expectations, will I think really set you apart as a good PII and a trustworthy PII. And third, I would say customer focus would be a another top competency, if you're a pie. Even if you don't own your own business, customer focus is important because your boss is your customer or your supervisor, or you know, the ultimate client may be your customer. So focusing on what it is, what they're looking for, and what would make them happy, and what kind of outcome or process that you'd recommend would be most beneficial for their situation. So it's really about listening. That last one is more about listening, and understanding before you jump in and really start on a on a project that are important for being successful either as a self employed PII or private and a business owner, or even as a PII working for a big firm.

Travis  22:02  
And those are all excellent points. And you mentioned customer service. That reminds me, in my last role, I was, of course working on like some, like compliance governance, risk type projects, and also investigative projects. But since I was with a software company, I was really surrounded by a ton of salespeople. But being able to be around salespeople, when they're on their sales calls when they're cold calling and just like learning about their process, I thought that that was just a really interesting experience and learning about how they structure essentially like their interviews with their prospects. So customer service is something that's super interesting. And so much of it also is like, for me, it's not very intuitive. So it's something that I definitely have to go out there and make a project of learning more about sales and interacting with customers. And then ethics, also something totally huge. Like, I'm sure anyone could Google cyber, like cyber stalking and corporate security, you can probably find some really interesting case studies where we can, you know, avoid, avoid investigative issues in the future. Because really, anyone with a computer and internet access has an incredible amount of power, and with great power comes great responsibility. So yeah, I think ethics is definitely a huge one and understanding what we can do what we can't do, and when it's appropriate to maybe raise an issue to our supervisor or legal counsel or, or something like that. Those are all excellent points.

Ed  23:42  
Yep, exactly, I think you hit the nail on the head, with great with great power comes great responsibility. Because, you know, a lot of times people, our clients may have some kind of skewed expectations of what private investigators or even any kind of corporate security or or special investigative unit can do. legally and ethically, a lot of that is, you know, I don't want to always blame TV and movies, but there may be part of it. But it may just be just not knowing it's gonna be an innocent, not really knowing where the boundaries are, what PIs and things can do. So it's up to us as PIs as security professionals, to know that those to know about those ethical boundaries and legal boundaries, and use our power responsibly in a way where we're educating customers on what we can do and the expectations to make sure that everyone is is happy, and we're staying within our our legal and ethical bounds.

Travis  24:42  
Yeah. And that makes me think of another thing. So when I was working on a project for school, over the last year, I had a chance to talk to a number of corporate investigators. And remember, one of the things that they often said was that a lot of the stakeholders that they interact with, they don't necessarily under Standard what a corporate intel team does or what a corporate Intel manager does, their responsibilities, their capabilities, what they're allowed to do, what they're not allowed to do. So I've seen that that's also kind of like a common thing. One, of course, a common thing, common theme for you, where you have to educate, you know, the average person who's coming to you with an investigative issue, but then also highly applicable when it comes to corporate security in educating stakeholders, and what investigators working for a private company are able to do. So. Also, I wanted to ask you, so if there's younger professionals out there, maybe they're finishing high school, maybe they're in college? Like, what advice would you give someone who's younger in their career that's aspiring to be a private investigator?

Ed  25:49  
Yeah, good question. One of the things that surprised me, that surprises me about being a private investigator is that there are some things that you need to be skilled in that you wouldn't think would be, would be prerequisites to being a pi. So being a pi, or being a researcher, or investigator, or a security intelligence professional, isn't just about the sleuthing skills or solving problems and, and uncovering, you know, hidden information, it's also about being inquisitive, you have to be you have to have a very curious mind, you have to just have a, a spark in you, or something like that, that you just, you know, are really curious about finding answers. And then, and then finding more answers and more and just sort of building out a story based on facts. You need to be a good writer, and a good good way of communicating because you can be the best investigator or Intel professional in the world. But if you need to be able to articulate your findings in a way that your customers will understand. So that goes with report writing, or verbal reports, things like that. And, and being able to communicate information in a way that your clients understand it, they know what they need to do, or they at least know the importance of your findings. So in those particular areas, I'd say that it's, it's not always just about the skills, it's about having those other sorts of innate abilities. And since PII work has evolved, so much where, like myself, I, I often don't leave the desk, I do a lot of my research at a computer. But while not everything is online, it does make up a huge part of what is accessible now. So it's, it's important to develop a curious mind around researching and really optimizing what's out there and how you can use it in your role. So if there are any aspiring professionals, I'd say definitely, you know, learn the research skills. And there there are things that you can learn as you go, and there and then there are sort of these innate abilities that will really help you and work to your advantage. That will, that will really help you out in your career and being curious and being adaptable. Are some are some very important skills as well.

Travis  28:37  
Yeah, I love those points being inquisitive, for sure. Because anytime we're approaching any kind of research problem, you really need someone who's going to think outside the box like, hey, maybe if I was on the other side, how might I hide this information? Or how might I obscure this? So? Yeah, I think curiosity is really important when it comes to when it comes to just solving problems. And also it gives you a passion for solving problems in a way. And then writing, of course, writing is huge. And I think that's something that all that I'm still getting better at that everyone that I've ever worked with, has really made a project out of becoming a better writer when it comes to delivering, like succinct, high impact information, especially like when you're delivering something to an executive. So I think those writing skills and presenting skills and even as annoying as it is, like, the ability to convey important information and a PowerPoint deck, like little things like that can be super important.

Ed  29:44  
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And knowing how to work with different audiences, too. So sometimes you have folks who just want to know, you know, the executive summary and then you have the folks who want to get into the detail. So it's important to have strengths in both so that you communicate to multiple audiences and presentation is, is is very critical for how the information gets across, because you might put 50 hours into a research project or investigation. And then you have 50 seconds to relay the information to the person who's going to take the next step. So it's important to really, really make a fine point on on your findings and what some of the key takeaways are for your audience.

Travis  30:27  
Yeah, and I find like so many people, so many of my peers are really bad at putting together PowerPoints, because so in the last year, I did, I was finishing up a master's program. And one thing I noticed from like some of the some of my student peers is that some of these people who are like career college students, they're bad at a lot of things, but they're incredibly good at creating really engaging PowerPoints. So that was one thing that I took away, or I think myself included, but a lot of my peers too. There's definitely a lot of room for improvement when it comes to our ability to create, like, impactful and consumable PowerPoint presentations.

Ed  31:11  
Exactly, yeah. And it. And being able to capture the audience's eye as an IRS is super important. So that that's actually definitely a very critical skill set. It's becoming more important, the way that we present information is often an online or virtual format now, so I think that's definitely a good thing to have in your toolkit.

Travis  31:32  
Sure, yeah. The medium has changed so much. And also, I want to ask you, so over the years, are there any books in particular that you found yourself recommending the most to whether it's your peers who are investigators, or whether it's young people that are looking to learn more about investigations?

Ed  31:56  
Yeah, actually, so I have to recommend a couple of different varieties. So there's, there's books if you want to learn, like the skill sets, like here are the tools and techniques and methodologies and you know, a step by step guidance for, you know, investigating on Facebook or a website. One book I recommend for that category is the open source intelligence techniques by Michael basil. That one is a very popular book very, it's in its eighth edition now, I believe, so highly recommend that one for the techniques part. And then, for learning about investigations, and the career and role aspect, I would recommend art, the art of investigation by Chelsea bins, and Bruce Sackman. I'm actually one of the contributing authors to the second edition of that book that's coming out later this year, that it's a really cool book. So there's a bunch of investigators that are that are picked, and each one of us writes one chapter and, and my chapter happens to be on ingenuity. So I write all about how ingenuity is an important skill for investigators to have and some of the other chapters are on adaptability, and, and curiosity and ethics and, and be having an entrepreneurial mind and things like that. So that is that is the first edition of that book that came out in 2019 was a terrific book. And it was such a hit that now the second edition is coming out this year. And it's a great read for anyone who is in law enforcement investigations, and private investigations and corporate investigations, security insurance, because all of those same skill sets are kind of woven in to the investigation and security professions. So and you have a multitude of perspectives written by different contributing authors in in each book. So it's a, it was a fantastic book, the first edition was and I'm sure this, the second edition will be as well. So I highly recommend that to folks who are curious about the industry are looking into jumping in into the into the profession or just want some some really good stories and really good ideas for how these things help investigators be successful.

Travis  34:26  
And I'll be sure to link to both of those are investigations I definitely need to check out and OSINT techniques. I love that that book basically taught was my intro to all online investigations. And it's amazing the type of education you could get from really just sitting down reading that book and testing all of the different tools there and kind of experimenting with them. Because I think just just reading that book alone and playing with all the tools that they mentioned. It's an incredible education and Conducting online investigations and also your own digital privacy. So I found that to be incredibly useful.

Ed  35:07  
Oh, yeah, definitely. And I, I like how the book is it's, it's constantly being updated, new editions are coming out. So, you know, it's an I think I probably have all eight sessions by now. And it's funny to see how so much has changed, like the way that you would look someone up on Facebook today is so different from how it used to be, you know, three years ago, five years ago, so as those things change, it's important to stay on top of the different methodologies or maybe what doesn't work anymore. So I think, Mike basil's book there does a does a great job of keeping us updated and engaged as to those new technologies.

Travis  35:49  
Yeah, he's got an awesome resource. And then he has a podcast too. So people should also look up his OSINT techniques podcast. And then to switch gears a little bit. I wanted to ask you, like, looking back on your career, are there any times where you've had a failure or an apparent failure that later set you up for success? For for example? Do you have like a favorite failure that you've experienced over the years? So

Ed  36:20  
what I think, you know, so when I first started my, my business, so my, my company is named Nighthawk strategies. And it's not called Nighthawk investigations. And I would, I would, I don't, I wouldn't say that. That's an, that was intentional. So when I first started my business, I marketed myself as a researcher, as an open source intelligence researcher, I do due diligence, and I, you know, can help you find information. And I really didn't have terribly much success doing that, because maybe, maybe that doesn't sound as exciting as being a private investigator. And that's more to the point people know, people have an instant reaction when you tell them, You're a private investigator, it may not be an accurate reaction, but at least they know what you do. And they have a good idea of what what it is that your day to day looks like, or at least who you help. So my initial business proposition my initial business offering, was, I wouldn't say it's a complete failure, because at least it was a learning experience. But it's important to be able to articulate the value of what you do. And this is the business owner, me talking is that when you offer a product or service, you have to not just explain what it is that you do, or how you do it, but why it's beneficial for your customers. So me kind of marketing myself by saying, I'm a researcher and I can look up stuff wasn't, you know, the clients were having a hard time making connection as to why that would matter for them. They're like, well, I have Google. Isn't that just as good? So then I really had, you know, I've had actually several business evolution since then, and pivoting and refining my services, to better articulate what I do and better articulate the value and vision that I provide, and my unique business proposition so that I'm now more successful at connecting people as to not just what I do and how I do it, but why it's important, why it can influence decisions, why you might win or lose a case, a legal case, depending on the information that you have, that really gets people's eyes open, and ears perked up, because they, they then can connect it to why it's why it's valuable for them. So yeah, I guess as a business owner, it's, you have these sort of learning failures where you test something out, you look and then you pivot in that way. So that I would say that's my favorite failure, because I was, I was not considering being a licensed PII when I first started my business that came maybe a year, year and a half or so after I started, and was, you know, trying to hone and evolve from that vague Research Guide to now being a licensed PII, who does these sorts of things for these people.

Travis  39:20  
And that's really interesting, I wouldn't have thought that the name would make such a difference. But you're right, because at first glance, when customer or potential client is seeing the name, there might just be all about the connections that they make in their brain where they're thinking, I don't need a researcher I need a private investigator. That's, that's very interesting. And then you also connect it back to really kind of being a good marketer and a good salesperson where you can where you can put your value prop forward and people can understand it right away about how you could help them solve problems or how you could help them save money or or similar. And that also kind of leads in to the next question, which I wanted to ask you, which was like, over the years being a private investigator, are there any? Has there been any? Is there any common bad advice that you hear? Like, do people tell you Oh, you don't want to do like, you don't want to be licensed as a as a PII, or you don't want to work with this company? Or you don't want to do these projects? Like, is there any bad advice you've gotten over the years?

Ed  40:27  
Um, you know, I Yeah, I've seen different investigators or different groups that I'm in who sort of take a different approach to investigations, and in ways that I think, personally might be a little bit taking on a little bit more risk that needs to be taken on for investigation. So, you know, I think one good example is, when you're doing online investigations, or OSINT, or social media, investigations, it's a much different approach. To investigate someone's online persona, if you're doing it for I don't know, a fraud case, or you're just trying to get a background on someone versus if this is a active human trafficking investigation, and, you know, different measures, it's definitely to be done. So I think it's both in terms of scale, and your permissible purpose for why you're hunting down to particular data or particular information. But I'd say some of the some of the bad recommendations I've seen is, you know, just go at it, no matter what the cost, no matter what there is, that is not a way to be a responsible investigator, depending on the situation, again, I can't, I can't speak for folks. And in law enforcement, I don't have any law enforcement experience, I'm sure that the risk profile and the methodologies used, they're a much different and probably, you know, much more of an active, I would say, on the opposition and that case, but it's important to take into consideration a, you know, a risk, an understanding of your risk and understanding of what you should do, and in particular situations. And it's tricky it is it is, it can be tricky as a pie. And the pie industry does kind of lack a lot of guidance around us, particularly around newer technologies. So we're kind of figuring out where those boundaries are, and where those ethics are. So that's why I go back to ethics all the time. And, and say that it's important to really evaluate what you're doing and what the purpose is and how the information is going to be used. So, you know, my a good way to turn that around in a way to say a good recommendation would be to, you know, really think about those sort of ethical boundaries and those guidelines, and don't just, you know, do it because somebody says it can be done, you really need to think about whether those things shouldn't be done. Or even if you get the information that you're looking for, are you even going to be able to use it? Is it going to be legally permissible? Is it going to be admissible in court and that sorts of thing? So the recommendation I have would be to, to do that. And really think about the, the, the applications and consequences of your investigation methodologies?

Travis  43:46  
Yeah, that's a great point. Yeah, risk tolerance is going to be different for for all PIs for all different corporations. So yeah, I think that's an excellent point. And then it does get back to ethics, and understanding what's right in a situation, what's wrong, and what's the gray area and what's going to be most appropriate. Yeah, that's very interesting. And as we're wrapping things up here, are there any final words that you'd like to share with aspiring practitioners who are maybe thinking about joining you as a private investigator in your industry?

Ed  44:24  
I'm sure yeah, I would say, you know, the, the industry is definitely going to need people in the, in the next generation, the next evolution of the industry who are really good at doing some of the things that we talked about really good with understanding technology, how to be adaptable to different changes in in changes in resources and changes in techniques. So if you're aspiring to get into the investigations, industry, or being Whether it's a private investigator or corporate investigator, really soak up as much knowledge as you can, because at the end of the day, people will turn to you when they're in, I don't want to say in a moment of crisis, because we hopefully they come to us before there's a crisis. But the people will turn to you when they need very important information. And oftentimes, it's very sensitive. It confidential, it can be time sensitive, but at the end of the day, you will be providing facts and data and information that will help someone else make a decision. And that's a that's no small task to be asked for. So really soak up as much knowledge as you can, you know, get get involved in the industry, whether it's joining associations, or joining conversations on LinkedIn, or social media, you know, that you can do at no cost. And always remember to, you know, you're representing a profession of people. So always do things ethically. And if you have questions, reach out started discussion about it, there could be other people who are not familiar with some of the questions and implications. So, you know, I'd recommend to those aspiring to get involved in the profession to take advantage of those things. We live in a great time where you can just hop on LinkedIn, or go to a virtual conference, or now hopefully in person conferences, and, you know, meet people meet other professionals, ask them about that, what they do, and also attend some really, really engaging workshops and sessions to hone your skills. So I'd recommend learning as much as you can, staying connected, staying focused, and, you know, eventually becoming one of the thought leaders of the industry who's, who are promoting a lot of these good techniques and good ways to carry the industry forward.

Travis  47:05  
Yeah, those are excellent points when it comes to one, of course, now networking with our giant network of peers on LinkedIn, who are all really more than willing to help you if you reach out with any kind of question. So definitely networking with them. attending conferences, if you're able, like osmosis was a great one that I've enjoyed, we talked about some really good book resources when it comes to our investigations and the books by Brazil. And then also, you make a really good point about us just being good ambassadors of our profession, because it really doesn't matter if you're a corporate investigator, if you're a private investigator, really the way that you act is going to be how other people perceive all people across our profession. So I think that's an excellent point as well. And Edie, I really appreciate you sharing your time with me today, I wrote down a ton of great notes. And you had a really cool story about going from being a EMT working on the physical security side and moving on to being a paralegal and then starting your own company. So you also had kind of like a really cool, inspiring story for other people who are also interested in starting their own pai firms. And you made some great points about some of the different competencies for successful investigators. So I really appreciate you sharing your time with me today. And I know this will be a really educational conversation for people. So thank you.

Ed  48:35  
Yeah, thank you, Travis. Yeah, it was great to be on and great to chat with you about my experience and hope hope folks find it helpful. It's a it's a very, very rewarding profession. And I would say I'm very happy that the keep the community that we belong to, as in the security investigations. Industry is, you know, is so welcoming and so interesting, as well. So I'm very happy to have joined you today.

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