How J.P. Miller Turned His Passion for Politics into a Promising Business
Did you know that New Yorkers love reading about Mike Francesa? Neither did I, until my friend J.P. Miller, founder and publisher of political news aggregation site Empire Report New York, revealed on my most recent TMI (The Motivation Inside) podcast that news articles about the famous sportscaster (who also happens to be my neighbor) always receive a lot of clicks. So do articles about retired New York politicians, such as Governor George Pataki and Senator Al D’Amato, as well as stories about politicians’ staffers.
I was glad to welcome J.P. to TMI because he’s managed to do what so many wish they could. He does what he loves for a living. I frequently say that if you follow your passion and do what you love, then success will follow — but only if you’re willing to work hard and you refuse to surrender to self-doubt. Whenever people try to launch businesses that attempt to capitalize on something they’re excited about, others around them always try to instill doubt. I know that from experience. My firm SkyBridge Capital is the second business I’ve built from scratch.
J.P. and I first met in 2012, when he was the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut finance director for Governor Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaign. J.P. loves reading about politics and the people involved in it. Three years ago, while working for a hedge fund manager, he noticed that New York was missing something many other states had — its own political news aggregation website modeled after The Drudge Report. Connecticut, Colorado, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and other states had one, and the entrepreneur inside J.P. saw an opportunity “in the biggest media capital of the world.”
While trying to answer that question and researching how he could set one up, J.P. took two entrepreneurship courses taught by Glenn Okun at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business. J.P. highly recommended Professor Okun’s classes to TMI listeners because instead of focusing on Steve Jobs and other phenomenally successful entrepreneurs, Professor Okun devoted each class to a different business that failed and the reasons why it failed.
Learning what not to do was valuable for J.P., along with the support he received from his entrepreneur friends (who had been through the turbulent experience he was about to begin). When J.P. finally embarked on his journey, I told him that when he felt depressed, he could call me any time, day or night.
Now, seven months later, Empire Report New York is beginning to take off in a big way — and J.P.’s depression has turned into “constant elation,” as he said on TMI. The week before we recorded the podcast, J.P. secured his first advertiser, and in the previous 30 days, more than 22,000 unique visitors accessed the Empire Report New York site over 200,000 times (thanks to J.P.’s promotion of the site through social media and mass emails).
J.P. (whose Catholic parents named him John Paul after his grandfathers as well as Pope John Paul II) wakes up at 4 a.m. every day to begin curating content for Empire Report New York. The daily process involves reading 50 newspapers published across New York State and reviewing Google Alerts, and then choosing between 20 and 25 of the most compelling headlines for posting on the homepage.
“I want it to be the most widely read and influential political news site in the state,” J.P. said on TMI. “I don’t write any of the content — all I do is link to stories and try to present them in a provocative, interesting manner for readers.”
I told J.P. during our TMI conversation that I thought his goal was attainable, since I quickly became addicted to the site and now visit two to three times a day. In response, J.P. said I’m not alone — many politicos in New York City and Albany, and across the state, also visit Empire Report New York at least two to three times per day, and like me, enjoy reading the compelling non-political content. This ranges from Mike Francesa’s latest comments to human-interest stories published in the New York Post.
As J.P. explained on TMI, “One thing that’s a little different about the New York Empire Report is we’re not just all politics.” I agreed, and said the site not only better informs me about New York City and State politics, but also entertains me.
My entire TMI conversation with J.P. Miller, in which we discuss Mitt Romney and Donald Trump — and why J.P. wants me to run for political office — is available here: https://soundcloud.com/skybridge-insights/22-taking-the-entrepreneurial-leap-of-faith-with-empire-report-ny-founder-jp-miller