Jamie Miller of ReasonableArguments: 5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry

An Interview With Dina Aletras

Dina Aletras
Authority Magazine
17 min readJun 28, 2024

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Never stop listening and learning. I like to say that there are 360 degrees of viewing an elephant. While two people who are looking at the same animal, the person describing the trunk is going to have a very different description than the person describing the tail. I think a thought leader, in their area of expertise, sees more degrees than most people and even the majority of people in their chosen field. But, the thought leader also knows that no one is able to see all 360 degrees of the elephant at the same time, and never stops listening to and learning from others who may have a different view or perspective.

As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie Miller.

Jamie Miller is a seasoned political consultant mostly known for working in Florida, although he has been successful in North Carolina, West Virginia, and Mississippi as well. He is a former executive director of a major political party in Florida, has managed or served as senior advisor to four statewide campaigns including president, governor, U.S. Senate, and attorney general. He now shares his political insights on his blog and YouTube channel and has authored a book titled American Speeches That Changed History. You can read and subscribe to his blog at www.reasonablearguments.com.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us! Our readers are eager to learn more about you. Could you provide some background information about yourself?

Thank you for including me. I am a husband, father, and grandfather. My interest in politics began during a middle school project where we separated into groups to study the three presidential campaigns of 1980. I was assigned to the group that studied Ronald Reagan and in 2006 had the opportunity to work with my mentor, Ed Rollins, who was Reagan’s 1984 campaign manager. I specialize in crisis communications, strategic planning, economic development, and political campaign strategy and management.

I am married to children’s book author, Jennifer Bash. We have two sons and two granddaughters.

Some interesting things about me include being a civilian graduate of the Air Force’s Air War College National Security Forum, a graduate of Les McCurdy’s Humor Institute (a class that teaches stand-up comedy), a member of the Hemingway Look-Alike Society (A festival in Key West that raises money for local scholarships), and volunteering as the co-president, with my wife Jennifer Bash, for the Sertoma Club of Greater Sarasota, which raises money for children who need speech and language therapy.

What establishes you as an authority on thought leadership? Could you briefly share your expertise with our readers?

I am proud that my colleagues, competitors, and members of the press consider me a thought leader in the very tough, fluid industries of political campaigns, strategic messaging and government relations.

In my almost three decades of working in politics, I have worked on small races that include an election to support a bond to fund construction for a rural county’s emergency room to serving as a senior advisor for a presidential campaign in Florida. I am just as proud of the campaign for the bond as I am of the presidential campaign because I wanted to make a positive difference in people’s lives, and if you are an injured farm worker in rural Florida, availability to an emergency room is often more tangible than what that farmworker sees as less tangible, broader federal policies.

My career began as a volunteer for a county commission race, and my first paid job was a field organizer in 1998 for the Republican Party of Florida. That job is the backbone for the grassroots efforts in political campaigns — running multiple headquarters, phone banks, door-to-door efforts, election day activities, and mail-in ballot campaigns.

I was director of field operations during the historic 2000 presidential campaign in Florida and the subsequent Recount.

Can you recall a funny mistake you made when you were first starting out? What lesson did you learn from it?

There aren’t many funny mistakes in political campaigns, but there are plenty of funny stories. However, one “mistake” I made came during my very first speaking engagement as a field organizer. The Party was behind Jeb Bush for governor but there were a few minor candidates who were running against him in the primary.

I gave my “rah rah” speech that every first-time field organizer gives about the election being the most important in our lifetime to about 100 people. During Q and A, I was asked about one of the minor candidates.

In all my southern charm, I answered, “I wouldn’t know her if I saw her, but I hear she’s crazier than a sprayed roach.”

Well, the minor candidate proceeded to stand up and yell, “I’m suing you, I’m suing your boss, I’m suing the party, I’m suing Jeb Bush, etc.” as she and her entourage then stormed out of the room.

I was obviously embarrassed and softly spoke into the microphone the only words that came to my mind in that moment, “Truth is my best defense.”

Everyone roared with laughter and my fledgling career was saved.

What are the most significant disruptions you foresee in your industry over the next five years, and how can businesses adapt to these changes?

The political campaign industry changed significantly due to changes in the news cycle, access to information, increases in message delivery options, and the amount of information voters are willing to share.

While traditional media remain important, newer platforms such as streaming services, podcasts, blogs, social media, and virtual reality are becoming more influential.

With whom you are trying to communicate may dictate which medium a campaign may use. While broadcast, cable and direct mail are still the major medium for those over the age of 60, there are dozens of platforms and options for those who are younger.

During the next five years, I believe we will see an explosion of political communicators as well as the introduction of Artificial Intelligence in all areas of political campaigns including research, issue development, messaging and production of political assets.

Campaigns will need to adapt by embracing new technologies to stay relevant and effective.

Can you explain the benefits of becoming a thought leader? Why is it valuable to invest time and resources into this?

A thought leader goes above and beyond a typical leader by dedicating time and effort to promoting ideas, continually learning, and mentoring others.

Like most things, being a thought leader has both pros and cons. I don’t know that I started out with a goal of becoming a thought leader, but being a thought leader allows me to shape public policy and share important ideas, but some clients are reticent to hire someone who shares their ideas as freely as I do.

An example would include writing a blog which is read by many influential leaders in Florida and the federal government. I use it to influence policy or public commentary on a number of subjects. The predecessor of my blog was Facebook posts about COVID when I suggested the utilization of a 7-day average for reporting cases instead of suggesting there was a peak in cases every Tuesday/Wednesday. As it turned out, there wasn’t a weekly surge in cases, although some weeks that was the case, but there was a backlog of reporting cases during the weekend that then “caught up” on Tuesday or Wednesday appearing like a weekend surge. I graphed both daily and 7-day results. These posts were seen by the Florida governor’s office which then started determining policy based on a 7-day average which truly detected surges.

Another example could include my criticisms of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign, not because I was supporting anyone else or wanted to see him fail, but because he hired a lot of consultants and staff who listened to him while failing to hire a trusted advisor to whom he would listen. I think that one, early mistake ensured that the foundation of his campaign would crack when the campaign heated up, and it turned out that his campaign imploded long before any significant number of votes were cast.

Everyone must judge for themselves if the pros of being a thought leader outweigh the risks. For me, the ability to shape public discourse in a positive way makes it worthwhile.

Can you share an example of a significant challenge you faced in your career and how you leveraged innovative thinking to overcome it?

One of the reasons Pres. George W. Bush was successful in Florida during the 2000 election was due to a lesson I learned during a special election in 1999.

Normally, election rules are set long before an election takes place, but sometimes, the rules change due to court cases, election law changes, etc.

In 1999, there was a special election for state house that was going to be close.

At the beginning of this special election, the practice known as ballot harvesting, was legal. Ballot harvesting is identifying your supporters who have requested but not cast a mail-in ballot, going to their door, encouraging them to vote, and physically taking the ballot to the elections office. It was common practice to wait until election day to return all ballots that had been collected by the campaign and turn them into the supervisor of elections to give an emotional blow to your opponent on election day.

The week before the special election, a judge ruled that a new law could be implemented for this election that each mail-in voter would have to designate a specific person to return their ballot and one person could only return a maximum of two ballots (this would remain the law during the presidential election in 2000). The campaign had collected about 250 ballots, which could be the difference in a close race, so another lawsuit was filed to put an injunction on this ruling so it wouldn’t take effect until after this special election. A judge ruled late Monday, the day before the election, that this law would, in fact, be implemented for the special election. To find these voters, have them designate someone to return their ballot would take a total of 125 volunteers, a herculean task.

The campaign manager took the ballots to the supervisor of election the morning of election day to plead his case because less than a week earlier, the supervisor told him that she would count all legal ballots. The judge’s order changed her mind, and she did not accept the ballots.

The campaign manager came to headquarters and was irate. The race could be lost due to these voters being denied their voice and the rules being changed at the last minute.

I took the campaign manager outside, box of ballots in hand and went to the U.S. Post Office. I had other employees call FedEx and UPS to see if they would make a same-day delivery. I had another employee call the supervisor of elections to see if she would accept ballots from FedEx or UPS and whether we could put all the ballots in one box, or if each ballot had to have its own envelope.

While we were waiting on those answers, the campaign manager and I waited in line at the U.S. Post Office where the supervisor of elections had her PO Box.

We ask the clerk, “can we have 250 letters delivered to the same PO Box at this location today?”

“No, we can’t deliver 250 letters to 250 PO Boxes today,” was the response.

“No, I’m asking,” with my hands about two feet apart, “whether you can take 250 letters and put them in the SAME PO Box today?”

“Yeah. I guess I’ll do that for you,” our savior responded.

“I’d like to buy 250 first-class stamps.”

When we took the 250 ballots to the clerk’s window, he hand-canceled them in front of us, and said, “I see now why this was so important to you.” The margin of victory was about 400 votes.

Fast forward about 16 months to November 2000 when I managed about 15 field staff members where we legally collected, stamped, and mailed from several post offices from around Florida about 10,000 ballots that otherwise would not have been cast. Pres. Bush won the state of Florida and the presidency that year by 537 votes.

This law has since been changed, but during those two elections, the law didn’t limit how volunteers or campaign staff could collect and mail ballots but how supervisors of elections could receive them…through the U.S. Post Office, or with an affidavit from a voter designating a specific person to turn in their ballot personally.

That lesson learned in Stuart, FL in 1999 would influence the outcome of the leader of the free world.

Now that we have covered that, we’d love to hear your advice on becoming a thought leader. Can you share five strategies that someone should follow to gain recognition as a thought leader in their industry?

1 . Never stop listening and learning. I like to say that there are 360 degrees of viewing an elephant. While two people who are looking at the same animal, the person describing the trunk is going to have a very different description than the person describing the tail. I think a thought leader, in their area of expertise, sees more degrees than most people and even the majority of people in their chosen field. But, the thought leader also knows that no one is able to see all 360 degrees of the elephant at the same time, and never stops listening to and learning from others who may have a different view or perspective.

2 . Never stop teaching. As a thought leader, you are always mentoring and teaching, but through your actions, you are teaching everyone around you, so be true to who you are because you are always teaching a lesson — good or bad. No business school in America teaches the campaign business model where you start at $0 raise millions of dollars, end at $0 and are successful. That’s why I volunteer to teach campaign and candidate schools. When, how much, and what you spend campaign dollars on will determine your success.

3 . Leave your comfort zone. A political campaign career is highly competitive, critical and public. It is easy, maybe even smart, to stand in the shadows of clients. Many political consultants shun tv news programs, being quoted in the press, or baring their soul for Authority Magazine. I encourage people to start a blog, TikTok, YouTube, or other means of entering the public arena with their ideas for a better America. We all have ideas to offer that can positively impact those around us.

4 . Do the right thing. It may be easier said to be authentic and transparent than done, but it has always been one of my goals in life, business, and relationships. You may tell from this interview that I actually talk more people out of running for office than I talk into it. It isn’t the best business plan, but it is the right thing to do. Some are attracted to politics for different reasons, but many don’t see the downside of running or winning an elected position.

For instance, I recently ran into someone who decided not to run for office after speaking with me. We were at a crowded conference, and even though we never met, he came up to me and thanked me for being so frank about the strain running for office would put on his family relationships, especially his middle-school-aged children.

He told me he would contact me in a few years when his children graduate high school to run his race for the U.S. House. I hope he does, because when he’s ready, he’ll make a great representative in Congress.

5 . Play the long game. You have to be flexible and prepare for the unexpected. A wealthy individual was going to run for a federal office and self-fund his campaign when he offered me the job, but it wasn’t the right thing for him, or me, politically. It would have been a multi-million dollar race, but I turned it down. It just wasn’t a race that I thought would benefit him, or me, long term. In fact, personally, I wanted his opponent to win, but in political campaigns, the people who you want to win, sometimes, don’t hire you. Do I go after the money? Or, do I find the next campaign in which I believe? I’ve also had candidates with whom I believed in at the beginning, started working for them, and then realized it was the wrong move. Should I quit? Or, do I have an obligation to give that candidate who hired me their best shot? These are all questions I’ve asked myself multiple times throughout my career, and depending on the candidate and the opponent, I’ve come up with different answers, but I’ve always tried to live by these five strategies, especially the final two — Do the right thing, and play the long game.

How do you foster a culture of innovation within your organization, and what practices have you found most effective in encouraging creative thinking among your team?

I’ve always been someone who leads through positive motivation. In political campaigns, it is important to remember that even inexperienced staff members have a “view of the elephant” which you may not have.

There is one instance that I’m particularly proud of because a political stunt became good public policy, I was a senior advisor on what turned out to be a winning statewide campaign working with two young but motivated staff members. Our candidate was seen as a cerebral nerd and his opponent a fun, capable, and boisterous politician, a good ‘ol boy everyone loved. Our candidate would definitely lose the “who would you rather have a beer with” polling question.

As we were brainstorming our plight, I suggested we lean into the nerdiness of our candidate because we weren’t going to turn him into a “fun” candidate with the time we had in the campaign.

The campaign manager suggested we tour the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Sexual Offender and Predator System and get press from the tour. At the time, it was a new, small unit that didn’t have the resources nor the authority to do much with the information they had on sexual predators.

We did the tour, received great statewide earned media, and won the race.

But following, what I would call a stunt to gain press, the elected attorney general of Florida went on to make prosecuting and arresting sexual predators one of his cornerstone initiatives. The FDLE’s Sexual Offender and Predator Unit went on to receive unprecedented funding and authority to work with local authorities to find and arrest these criminals.

And, it all happened because I fostered a culture within the campaign where everyone knew they could bring any idea at any time and it would be received, considered, and then either implemented or dismissed. The communication on that small team was fantastic, and I’m proud that 100s of predators are behind bars and 1000s of children have been protected in Florida because of that young man’s idea.

Who do you think is an outstanding example of a thought leader? What specific qualities impress you about this person?

Morgan Ortagus is an excellent example of a thought leader. I worked with her about 20 years ago, and it has been exciting to see her grow into a foreign policy expert. She served as the spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State with Secretary Mike Pompeo and is often on national news programs discussing national and international news stories. She was in charge of international messaging during negotiations of the Abraham Accords.

Ortagus has some of the most well thought out and politically defensible positions in today’s super-polarized political atmosphere. If your readers are interested in foreign policy, they should follow Morgan.

How do you stay informed about the latest trends and developments in your field, and how do you incorporate this knowledge into your strategic planning?

Like many industries, staying informed about latest trends is like drinking from a firehose. Much of my time is consumed staying apprised of current events and their implications.

Incorporating this knowledge into strategic planning allows me to balance immediate needs with long-term goals.

Most candidates have a “just win now” philosophy, but I try to plan both short- and long-term for my clients. Part of my job during strategic planning is to take what a client wants to say and mold it into a message that the public is willing to hear and vote.

Some people feel that the term “thought leader” is overused and has lost its impact. What are your thoughts on this?

Sure, terms get overused, but thought leadership is as old as time itself. People will continue to gravitate toward thought leaders because they are willing to put in the extra work to learn and share expertise, provide valuable insights and guidance about issues they are passionate about while helping others navigate complex issues.

How do you balance short-term business goals with long-term strategic vision, especially in a rapidly changing market?

There is always a balance between getting work and doing work. Doing work is the short-term goal while getting work is more of a long-term strategic vision. One way I balance the two is a philosophy that the office is for process and out of the office is for progress.

I think like anyone else; I balance by trying not to get overwhelmed by the work of today at the expense of the work of the future.

For example, in my “to do” pile right now, I need to complete a communications plan for a client, but I am committing today’s time to finishing this interview to, hopefully, inspire others and get future work.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? How has it been relevant in your life?

I would say my life lesson quote is, “you are your ceiling.” I have never set a goal I have not met, but like many others, my failure has been not setting lofty, long-term goals that are attained by setting “stair-step” goals to get there.

I tell my clients that my competitors run political campaigns, and I plan political futures. I try to ensure my clients have 2–4 paths every 2–4 years whether they win or lose their current political race. I also tell potential clients that a political race can help you reach unbelievable heights or destroy three areas of your life — personal, professional and political.

The only person that is putting limitations on you is you.

Many influential figures in business and entertainment follow this column. Is there someone you’d love to have lunch or breakfast with? They might notice if we tag them.

I would like to buy Sam Haskell dinner. Mr. Haskell is the author of the book “Promises I Made My Mother” and is the former Executive Vice President and Worldwide Head of Television for the William Morris agency. He is someone I’ve never met, but when my book about one of my political campaigns failed to get published, I turned it into a television pilot. He was nice enough to shop the show to major television executives and celebrities he thought would be great in the story. We didn’t sell the pilot, but I would love to meet him, take him to dinner and thank him for his advice, encouragement, and belief in me.

He gave me advice and was a mentor to me at a time when that meant more to me than he would ever know. My guess is that he wouldn’t remember me, his kindness to me, nor my show, but he gave this son of a minister and social worker an opportunity I never thought I would have.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They can follow me @repjam, which includes, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and TikTok. If it’s possible, on future platforms, I will register them @repjam as well.

Thank you so much for your insights. This was very insightful and meaningful.

About the Interviewer: Dina Aletras boasts over 20 years of expertise in the corporate media industry. She possesses an in-depth understanding of growth, strategy, and leadership, having held significant roles at some of the UK’s largest media organizations. At Reach PLC, the UK’s largest tabloid publisher, she served in various director capacities. Additionally, she held leadership roles at The Independent Magazine Group and DMGT. Her extensive knowledge spans editorial, digital, revenue, sales, and advertising.

Upon relocating to Switzerland, Dina took on the responsibility of managing and promoting the international section of Corriere del Ticino — CdT.ch pioneering the English page “onthespot.” She also was the Co-Editor of Southern Switzerland’s first official Italian and English bilingual magazine.

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