John R. Miles has spent nearly three decades on the front lines of military leadership, entrepreneurship, global business, life coaching and business strategy. After a successful career in Fortune 50 leadership, Miles turned inward, embarking on a journey of self-discovery that led him to start a podcast called Passion Struck that unpacks the wisdom of well-known guests and “everyday heroes.” Miles is also putting his knowledge to paper, publishing his first book in early 2024. Miles believes his message of purposeful, lasting change and actionable advice is what has propelled his success as an entrepreneur. Editors' note: This transcription is an edited version of a much longer recorded conversation, which you can hear by pressing the play triangle.
Years in St. Pete
I moved here 13 years ago.
Organizations involved in
I came here to be the Chief Digital Officer for Catalina Marketing, that’s what originally brought me to St. Pete. I was on the St. Pete Downtown Partnership board for six years. I was on the Warehouse Arts District board for six years and spent most of those as the fundraising chair. Then I launched a company here, about eight years ago, called Ovesto, so through that I spent a lot of time working with venture capital and private equity firms. Then I launched Passion Struck.
What gets you out of bed every day?
The fact that I’m doing something that I love in the service of trying to help others become better themselves. That fulfillment that I get to be someone who serves through the work I’m doing, and trying to do it in the best way that I possibly can while having the energy to put my all into it. Creating as much impact as I can and making the day’s work as valuable as I can possibly make it.
Why St. Pete?
I moved here from Austin, which in the late ’90s – early 2000s was my favorite time of the Austin era. It was when Austin was really cool. People considered it really weird and it just had this thrive of young entrepreneurs, VC, arts and culture and music, all transcending into this community. St. Pete used to be the up-and-comer to what Austin was at that time, and I think it’s become that over the 13 years I’ve been here. It has so much art, culture, creativity and innovation in it. That really makes it stand out as one of the top cities across the country, not to mention the great weather and beaches. To me, it’s the type of people that we’re bringing into this Greater Tampa Bay community.
What is one habit that you keep?
One of the most important habits I do is a morning routine. For many years, I wasn’t maximizing it, but when I really got in the habit of getting up at dawn every day at 5 a.m. and utilizing it as my purposeful “you” time, it made a world of difference. By creating that habit of waking up at 5 a.m., it has fostered so many additional habits from it, such as exercising every single day, journaling as a mindfulness practice and walking. Being able to be out there five o’clock in the morning on a walk with no traffic, no distractions and being able to set your intentions for the day on how you want to live it and to do your gratitude practice, to me, it’s life-altering.
Who are some people that influence you?
Hal Elrod and Robin Sharma have been very influential. Marshall Goldsmith and Seth Godin are another two who have been very influential over time. I would say my father and my grandfather have been role models for me; both were veterans. I’m a huge fan of the work of Susan Cain. I’m an introvert and her book Quiet was this beacon of hope for me of seeing and recognizing this latent talent that I had been masking for so many years, trying to be an extrovert in a world that rewards that. I have found Dan Pink to be someone I really look up to. I love his books.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
I wish I would have started this journey in podcasting when I saw Joe Hamilton (founder of the Catalyst) get into it three years before I did, because I think we are in the midst of a huge revolution of how people are going to work. Over the next decade, you’re going to see more and more people becoming solo entrepreneurs, and it’s one of the major reasons I wrote a book.
I’m extremely fortunate, humbled and kind of in disbelief that Harry Walker [Agency], probably the most esteemed speakers bureau in the country, reached out to me and asked me to be one of their keynote speakers. I am really interested in going on the road more and sharing what I’ve been talking about on the podcast and in the book with audiences. It’s something I love to do, something I did a lot of a decade ago, and I’m really interested in getting back into serving other people through public speaking.