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spy manifesto: 23
twenty-three necessary characteristics to be the best spy you can be


Absolutely Present
In the fourth century B.C., Aristotle was quoted with saying “Beauty is a greater recommendation than any letter of introduction”. If such is the case, your physical appearance is the first step towards an absolute presence in a social situation. Other characteristics will reveal themselves once this step is completed, leading towards further social recognition. If you make an appearance at a nightclub dressed to impress, dancing in the crowd, shaking hands with the credited DJ, or purchasing drinks for the popular and fashionable can gain you complete social recognition. You can obtain unending information if, when in the situation of a social scene, you are merely exposed to everyone in the room. The power of propinquity allows for others to undoubtedly have a preference or even desire to interact with you. It is at this heightened time of interaction when you begin to plan how to best acquire the information needed to complete your operation.

In this characteristic, you must remember one thing: change cannot happen without destruction. Your ability to successfully complete your mission depends on a specific system being interrupted by your task at hand. You must intentionally harm the system in a fast-paced, energetic, and bold manner. Whether it is the mainframe of a corporate office or the exemplary research of an award-winning scientist, the necessities of your operation depend on your drive. The instrumental aggression that you possess will drive you towards the end of your operation by any means necessary.

Aware of Limitations
It is highly necessary to be aware of your physical and emotional limitations. It is also necessary for you to fully acknowledge these limitations in order to find solutions to suppress, avoid, and/or deal with these hurdles. The longer you harbor your thoughts on factors that are, unfortunately, out of your control, the longer you will be unable to progress towards a solution. Acknowledging your limitations will allow you to find solutions that you can control. One example can be the issue of heights. Many individuals are afraid of heights, but a spy must be prepared to obtain information regardless of how high such information may be located. Let’s say that there is a specific office located on the 118th floor of a corporate building. The only option for you to obtain floor plans and activity of the office space is to take photographs through the exterior glass windows. How will you obtain these photographs? Will you scale the side from the 139th floor roof top patio or will you paraglide from the neighboring building? Acknowledging your fear of heights will allow you to analyze the aspects of the limitation to your advantage. “I can stay sane and collected if my feet are still mounted on a surface but I’ll surely hyperventilate if I feel like I’m floating and can’t grab onto something grounded.” Therefore, you choose to scale the building utilizing your feet as anchors and constantly holding onto the ripcord, rather than free-floating on a paraglider with sense of weightlessness.

It is your duty as a spy to establish a set of standards and principles that you fully commit to practice. Adhering to your traditions will provide you with an immediate and stable base for any task you endure. Your pre-operative planning can be an example of a temporary model that you use specifically for a certain operation. However, you must also have an established set of standards and principles that will remain with you throughout your career. Often, you will find yourself executing operations with a consistent style. This consistent style can be referred to as your signature. Using your signature to your advantage will guide you towards a successful operation.

Culturally Diverse
Understanding an array of cultures will provide you with a grander perspective when planning and executing your operations. The two most important cultures to comprehend here are, broadly, Eastern and Western. In almost every operation you encounter, a method or practice from one of the two generalized cultures will present itself. However, you must still focus on an individual culture when an operation requires it. Imagine that a contact you meet in Seoul informs you that the information you require is embedded in the vinyl of a billboard advertisement. The billboard’s description is ‘the controversial billboard advertising shoes whose slogan is offending the city of Seoul’. The billboard ad, in turn, will be torn down within the hour, at request of the citizens of Seoul. There are two billboards in Seoul that advertise for shoes, but they are located at opposite ends of the city. If you choose the wrong billboard you will not have enough time to make it to the other billboard and your information will be lost, thus, failing your operation. One shoe slogan states “It’s easy when you have the right shoes,” and the other states, “The shoes for your family”. Given this information, which billboard do you choose? You must be prepared to naturally commit yourself to the accepted culture at hand. The success of your operation depends on it.

The life of a spy can get tangled in the web of operations. Meticulous operation planning and developing may begin to control seemingly unrelated areas of your life, anything from eating habits to sleep pattern. To properly control your current emotional state, as well as predict future emotional experiences that result from operations, you must go through the process of daydreaming. First, you will need to form desirable responses you would like to experience from future operations and repeatedly rehearse this scenario in your mind. Secondly, reinterpret your past experiences that have resulted from former operations. This creative reinterpretation will generate the third stage: the necessary inspiration and motivation to realize the desired experience. Finally, your daydream will conclude when you have decided whether the desired experience has improved or worsened your current emotional state. It is important to take a break from planning and executing operations. Daydreaming can give you the chance to physically relax and recuperate, yet can also be completed without any individual’s suspicion.

Detailed Oriented
This characteristic works in many ways and may be one of the most difficult to master. The two major forms of ‘detail,’ here, are planning and execution. During your time of planning prior to an operation’s execution, you must be highly aware, attentive and understanding of every individual particular separately, as well as within a united whole. Take into consideration every option you can offer yourself and select the option with the most executable details you can replicate. Planning details can include the time of day, the equipment to be used, and reconnaissance. Execution details differ from planning details due to its unpredictable immediacy and rapid retention. Such details will unfold throughout your operation that will consistently need precise monitoring. Thinking critically and analytically, being aware of your environment, and controlling your emotional responses are certain execution details that commonly occur during operations.

Your body is your temple, therefore, it is highly important that you understand and master your physical capabilities. Know your strength. Most importantly, know your proportions. You have specific measurements that allow you to complete physical tasks in a certain way. Knowing your proportions will assist you in determining unique solutions to physical problems. Staying fit and healthy will allow you to control every area of your body, both inside and out, which can possibly be controlled. An optimistic attitude can reduce the physical and mental stress associated with planning and executing an operation. Without the distraction from stress and illness, you can successfully complete your operations in a focused and controlled manner.

This area of espionage is one of the most important areas to master. When obtaining information both overtly and covertly, the issue of disguise will surely come into play. Disguise, here, is not simply changing into a mask and cape. You must be able to psychologically change as well. Everything from your external to internal appearance must completely describe the role that you are assuming. Remember, both overt and covert. To causally waltz through the front door of a university’s library and overtly gather public documents regarding its main financial donors may seem rather simplistic. However, you cannot draw unpredictable attention to yourself and therefore must convincingly assume a role of a university member—may it be student, professor, or custodian. You cannot enter the sphere anonymously. After physically mastering your costume, utilize this outward appearance to master your psychological role. If you decided to assume the role of a student, you must be aware of specific speak and attitude of the student you have chosen. You may be stopped by another student, professor or custodian, in which case you must be prepared, at all times, to interact and successfully convince the other of your role and needs to the best of your ability.

Fashion Competent
Your personal taste in clothing and accessories is highly valuable to your outward appearance as a spy. Certain attire is stereotypically connoted with the world of espionage and your decision to comply with these beliefs is solely up to you. However, your personal anonymity in a group will greatly depend on your selection of clothing. When faced in the company of three or more individuals, your appearance may raise curiosity. A simple pair of sunglasses may be questioned and the other individuals may begin to pressure you; your interest in the color black over brown or the cost and location of purchase. Your ability to answer these questions properly, without hesitation, can reveal your mental strength or, perhaps, provide the other individuals with traceable information regarding your every move. Be wise in your external appearance; any choice is a vulnerable choice.

If at any moment of hesitation, confusion, or distress, remember your faith—it will always be with you and serve as a calming guider. You have an undeniable and unexplainable belief in your personal abilities, objectives, contacts and superiors. Even the physical spy equipment that you use when planning and executing operations has personal power specific only to you as its owner. Many spies deny updated versions of software and hardware because of their long and faithful adherence to trustworthy, yet older, programs and equipment. Only you can determine when objective reality becomes incomprehensible. At this moment, remember your faith.

When interacting with contacts or searching for a specific individual, you may need to identify the individual by his or her distinct peculiarity. Every individual exhibits some form of distinction; the tone of voice when asking questions, simultaneously speaking with words and hand gestures, or the lack of eye contact. When hunting down an individual who is described as ‘verbally short and physically quick mannered,’ you must be able to visualize such an individual. In the other case, the interaction between yourself and a contact, you must be able to describe and interpret the contact’s mannerisms objectively and subjectively. You must always be aware of common gestures and techniques that any contact may naturally exhibit when the truth is not being told. Your success in interpreting such mannerisms will properly determine the factuality of your contact’s information and thus, the next steps in your operation.

The ability to exhibit a natural aptitude for multiple things will undeniably help you to achieve success in your operations. The events that occur during your operation that require your physical and emotional contribution have been thoroughly planned. However, the required actions that are unplanned can easily seem premeditated if you have the innate ability to perform the tasks or, surprisingly, have recently practiced. Your mind will stay clearly focused on the operative if you do not need to distribute your attention avoiding the hurdle. Simply put, you should already possess the skills to jump over it.

Sometimes during the planning and executing stages of your operation, you will encounter tasks that you will not be able to complete without the assistance of another individual. As a spy, you must have a list of contacts that can assist you in different tasks. This list is compiled during interactions throughout your career. Any individual can be a future contact: a bartender, a security guard, or the flower delivery serviceman can provide you with proper assistance in your tasks. Be weary, however, of individuals who are highly interested in assisting your cause. Such individuals may not be prepared to handle the task you have presented or are interested in foiling your operation. One of the most important contacts that you must have is a contact to provide you with sanctuary in the emergency that your residence is under surveillance.

This is your most vital characteristic that must be mastered in order to survive as a spy. Anything and everything is a threat to your operation. You must be able to visually and emotionally acquire your surroundings. Then, you must be able to analyze the information to its fullest value. The most difficult challenge is to interpret both objectively and subjectively. Once this is achieved, store the information for immediate retrieval at any point during the current operation, for future retrieval during post-operation analysis, or for future retrieval in later and ambiguous operations. Any information is pertinent—the number of paces from the entrance of a museum to the sculpture in question, your physical health, or simple glances from other passengers on the bus. Understanding the current situation at hand will allow you to properly plan and most often predict future tactics during the operation, especially in the case of an emergency.

While planning and executing an operation, you must be very sensitive to any external influence. Acknowledging each influence is important when assessing any situation but you must also choose the degree to which you are aroused by such influences. When you are preparing a disguise, your deceptive clothing may stir your mannerisms and assist you in creating a different persona. However, the time of day, the room you are located in when preparing, or the music you are listening to while preparing can also arouse a certain intensity that would otherwise not be manifested. Trust the external influences that you choose to be easily excited or angered by because they will guide you in completing your operation successfully.

In order to obtain information and successfully complete your operation, you may encounter individuals who are hesitant to reveal anything. At this moment, your ability to persuade the individual must come into play. Your persuasive powers will highly depend on your skills of communication. The most important determinant in your persuasion, however, must come from your interpretation of the individual’s mood and current situation. The reason for an emphasis on the individual’s state of mind is because your argument can be presented in two specific ways ­ centrally and peripherally ­ that require an active response from the other individual. The central route to persuasion can be taken when you find the individual is attentive, listening carefully, and motivated to elaborate upon your story. Here, all information you choose to disclose should be clear, factual, and coherent. On the other hand, you may find the individual is unfocused on your story and easily distracted. At this time, you can begin a peripheral route to persuasion in which your story casually sits behind cues that are unrelated to your story; your social status, your physical attractiveness, or even the money in your pocket can assist you in obtaining the information you are seeking.

There is no doubt that problems will occur during an operation. Anything and everything is unpredictable. Therefore, you must have the ability to deal promptly and effectively with the presented difficulty. Provide yourself with as many options as possible to handle the situation. Any material item available to you is an option. A premeditated last resort for accomplishment is an option. You exist in a world where resources abound but it is your accurate interpretation of each resource that will allow you to solve problems in a calm and expedient manner.

Any skill that you can quickly appropriate will provide you with an array of options during a plan or execution of an operation. Personally acquiring information, related or unrelated to the operation at hand, will never distract or prevent you from completing an operation. Such vast information will, in turn, provide you with an array of options and allow you to properly formulate future operations that may not currently be apparent to you. On some occasions, your retention for information must be immediate. An unexpected social gathering in the lobby of a hotel, a recoded security device on a priceless ancient sculpture, or a drumbeat taught by a member of heavy metal band may be presented to you during your operation. You must quickly acquire the new skill and, if necessary, perform it as such so that you can successfully complete your operation.

You must have the utmost precision in choosing the individuals with whom you share any information. All information you dismiss can be a threat to your operation once it is out in the open. The only benefit that you can receive from sharing information with another individual is solely for the advancement of your operation. The idea of cryptic language is something that is highly effective in your discipline. Create codes that will be used in messages with your contacts. Most importantly, do not draw unwanted attention to yourself; the less curious an individual is in regards to your operation, the easier it will be to keep the operation a complete secret.

Your attention is highly valuable during the planning and execution of operations. It is a vast pool that must be properly divided and distributed to the multiple tasks you encounter at a single time. Multi-tasking occurs at all times; the simplicity of watching television and eating dinner. However, a spy’s multi-tasking abilities become highly complicated. During the planning stage of an operation when you are following an individual to create a distinct schedule of activities, you are constantly under the pressure of multi-tasking. Let’s say you have decided to go undercover as a tourist in Venice to follow a famous vacationing fashion model who has pertinent information for your operation. Be aware that you must maintain your physical and psychological disguise as a tourist as well as carefully and accurately operate the specs of your ‘camera’. Your ability to properly execute each task simultaneously will provide you with a smooth and successful operation.

Sexually Ambiguous
With a sexual attitude, obtaining pertinent information has never been easier. A quick wink or slight smile towards an individual of the opposite or same sex is like throwing out a fishing hook into a sea of fish. Because your mannerisms are slightly interchangeable and indistinguishable between either sex, the individual is not threatened; he or she is actually quite curious. This curiosity leads to further social exchange and final comparisons that you must be fully prepared to handle. He or she may actually become a threat to your operation; the individual may become too personal or end up being a spy as well. Once you have successfully achieved your ambiguity, use it as a distraction, both physically and emotionally, to obtain the information you need to complete your operation.

Struggling with Love
It is your time-honored tradition to struggle with love; you lead a double life where secrets and lies abound. As the heart, physical beauty, and emotional wellbeing of your love are major influences for your personal strength, they are also major influences for weakness. Every man feels physically invincible during a consummate relationship. However, this elevated phase can be stopped with the drop of a hat. Only your intensity can dismiss any obstacle but the seductive qualities of your love. Therefore, drive yourself during operations with your confusion from and infatuation with that special someone. Why would your love want to be with a failure?