Review: "Becoming Bulletproof"

Former Secret Service Special Agent Evy Poumpouras has written an illuminating self-help book about how to live fearlessly. Poumpouras has been battle tested; she has “walked the walk” as a U.S. Secret Service agent for 12 years. She believes that fear (“and it’s crazy cousin, panic”) can cause the most confident person to freeze up. She says to become “bulletproof” is to face fear directly.

The author explains “Becoming Bulletproof” means growing into the most courageous, most powerful version of oneself, not through body strength alone, but through employing one’s powers of observation. Poumpouras’ lessons are based on psychological research and years of experience. I found her lessons helpful for people of all ages, especially those who could use a boost of self-confidence and those concerned about personal and global safety.

Poumpouras was a member of the protective service detail teams for Presidents George H. Bush, William Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. During her tenure in the Secret Service she also served search and arrest warrants, investigated violent and financial crimes, conducted undercover operations, and effected countless polygraph tests. Her courageous activity to rescue people from the World Trade Center collapse on September 11 earned her the United States Secret Service Medal of Valor Award.

Poumpouras lays out a 3-part plan for meeting fear head-on and ensuring personal safety by learning to “Protect Yourself,” “Read People” and “Influence Situations.” Each topic makes up a section of the book.

“Protection” is derived from acquiring mental resilience during fast-moving and stressful situations. It requires being aware of surroundings, trusting one’s intuition and developing specific steps to ensure personal safety.

“Reading people” involves learning tools to detect lies while keeping one’s emotions in check. Poumpouras was trained by the Department of Defense to be an interrogator for the select polygraph unit of the Secret Service. Her insights about body language and especially eye movements are fascinating, helpful and the apex of the narrative.

“Influence” comes from earning the respect of others, building rapport and persuading others to feel comfortable enough with you that they share vital information.

Evy Poumpouras is a good storyteller. She has provided an easy, well-sequenced book: Each chapter builds on the material in the previous chapter.