In 1941, Helias Doundoulakis, a young Greek immigrant, was recruited by one of the most deadly and effective groups in the world at the time to become a spy during World War II.
At the time, the US wasn’t involved in the war. Britain knew they needed them as an ally and also realized that to win this war would require the Yanks to learn subterfuge of a different kind.
Britain wanted to build a secret training school on US soil, but it just didn’t happen. So they built it on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario in Canada.
Camp X trained its operatives in the dark arts of sabotage and silent killing.
Even before the US officially entered the war after the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor, agents from the FBI and the Office of Strategic Services (forerunner of the CIA) wanted to secretly join Camp X.
The British training was legendary.
Sir William Samuel Stephenson – said to be the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond character – was brilliant, teaching the Americans about foreign intelligence gathering.
This training actually saved the life of Helias when he returned to German-occupied Thessalonica, Greece. Helias was quietly gathering crucial intelligence on enemy activity. And his ability to blend in was immediately put to the test.
One night, he was having a drink at a bar. What he didn’t realize was that he was wearing an American watch on his wrist. And that caused a couple of German soldiers to become suspicious.
So they sauntered over and demanded to know where Helias got the watch.
As Helias said in the documentary, World War II Spy School, “From 15 spies trained and sent into this area, seven were caught. And all died with no fingers. I told myself, try not to tremble. I knew I had to think of a story right away.”
He remembered his training.
If you give a plausible explanation, for your conduct, no further investigation is likely.
An implausible explanation will be investigated and therefore must be watertight.
Helias said he bought the watch from a German who lifted it from a dead American soldier.
The Nazi German soldiers believed him.
As Helias says, “Without the training, I would have been caught. So it saved me.”
Such stories fascinate me. It also reminds me of the importance of training… of doing things over and over again until they’re second nature.
And even though practice can be mind-numbingly dull, when it counts, that dedicated practice comes through and can save the day. (Or save time. Or money.)
Whatever you do, to be the best at anything requires practice, discipline and sacrifice.
To choose to do one thing means not doing another. I’m not a trainer in a spy school but I do have a few marketing tricks up my sleeve.
Why not schedule a chat with me to discuss how you can improve your own marketing.
If you’re ready to jump into the wild yonder, that is.
I’ll give you an explosive idea or two that will make Sir William proud.
V is for Victory…