The secret to Donald Trump’s success, according to Al Gore aide

“Why is Donald Trump’s face on the news more than any other presidential candidate?

“Because he’s a thought leader,” Joy Howell says. “He’s not adhering to the conventional wisdom — of how to run a campaign or develop policy or run a government. Whether we like his ideas or not, he’s phenomenally successful.”

His messages are not canned and not managed, like other candidates.

“Trump is just Trump…in 140 characters (on Twitter), like it or not.”

Thought leaders use originality to “sell their expertise to others,” Howell says.

She’s made a career out of identifying thought leaders, and she knows something about politics, having navigated one of the roughest political campaigns in history.

She was communications director for the Gore/Lieberman 2000 presidential campaign, spent years running a communications and strategy firm in Washington, D.C., and was in the same Master’s in public administration class at Harvard as Katherine Harris (the former Florida secretary of state who also had a little something to do with the 2000 election).

Now 61, Howell’s still in politics — as occasional op-ed writer and TV commentator — but instead of just setting strategy for others, she’s using her planning skills on her own life.

She moved to Delray Beach two years ago — “I’m a beach girl” — and became a real-estate investor and manager.

It wasn’t the first major directional change she’s made as she adjusts her life to live her passions.

She grew up in Austin and found a political mentor in the late Ann Richards, the colorful Texas governor. Howell, who also worked as a journalist, joined Richards’ campaign — then ran a city council campaign at 22. Her candidate won.

That thrill led her to move to D.C., where she set up her own firm — but in 1989, when she was 35, she decided to “leap off a cliff and get out of the beltway while I was still young.”

She sold her company, her townhouse and her red Porsche 944 Turbo and bought a 26-foot RV.

With her two Shih-tzus, she drove cross-country, spent time in the mountains of Montana and Colorado and eventually ended up in Los Angeles.

But L.A. wasn’t the right fit for her — and this disconnection spurred Howell to make another change.

“I was bored,” she says, “and I yearned to be back in the policy world.”

That’s when, in her early 40s, she decided to get two Master’s degrees — including the one at Harvard, “for the intellectual excitement of it.”

“My philosophy has been, ‘If you’re not the lead dog on the sled, the scenery never changes,’” she says. “That has led me to be an entrepreneur most of my life.”

So, because she’s launching a new life at 60-plus and she’s also a campaign strategist, we asked Howell for her three tips on running the ultimate campaign — the race of your life.

“My overriding goal: Stay connected to my passions and take daily action to pursue them. That’s my formula for being Spectacular at 60!”

Here are Joy Howell’s tips …

  1. Identify your passions

What makes you feel excitement? Intellectually? Emotionally? Physically? Visualize your ideal life. What do you do every day? How much do you travel? Where do you live? Do you like the mountains, the beach, small towns or big cities?

  1. Where do you want to live?

What are some possible locations for your next phase of life? What will you do when you get there? What kinds of people do you want in your life? Do you want to be near family or independent?

  1. Draft an action plan for your life

What do you have to do to actualize your vision? Over what time frame? With what resources? In what order?

“In my case, my passions are business and politics,” Howell says. “So my post-60 life is about connecting with both of those.”

People don’t think about using strategic planning tools for their lives, she says, but they should.

Howell calls her action plan “Food for the mind, body and spirit.”

Knowing yourself and the answer to the above questions is key. If you’re not sure where to start with your own action plan, check out Howell’s.

Here are some examples of the actions she has taken to activate her plan.

Goal: Food for the mind

 Action plan: Subscribe to The Palm Beach Post for local news and events and The New York Times for national news, politics and international news. Read a number of other online/email newsletters, especially on politics (Politico), business (Fortune and Harvard newsletters). Watch and listen by satellite radio to MSNBC and sometimes Fox and CNN. Identify organizations and events likely to focus on events of interest to me and attract other like-minded people (Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach Cultural Council, lectures at Delray Public Library, Palm Beach County League of Women Voters, Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce).

Become a contributing writer to The Palm Beach Post, writing book reviews, plus stay current on the latest business books. (Current reading: “Originals — How Non-Conformists Move the World” by Adam Grant.)

Become a commentator on Newsmax TV as a national Democratic political analyst.

Goal: Food for the body

Action plan: Improve my eating habits and get more exercise. I read the book “Cholesterol Down” by Janet Brill, and I try to incorporate her recommendations.

I also walk 30 minutes several times a week, work out with a trainer, join friends for their favorite workouts, get frequent massages to lower stress and eliminate toxins, eat oatmeal/flax seed/nuts for breakfast, take a multivitamin (I like Airborne Everyday because it has good immune support, plus it’s chewable and tastes good).

I try to drink eight glasses of water a day and my favorite best tasting water comes from a tea shop in Delray that reportedly supplies their filtered water to the White House. Mmmmm good!

Goal: Food for the spirit

Action plan: Drive my blue M235 BMW convertible with the top down every day, socialize with fun, smart friends, always be open to meeting new people, get toxic people out of my life or moved to the sidelines, get up for the sunrise over the ocean once a week, look up each day to see the sunset over the lake at the end of my street, appreciate my loving mate Garland and his many thoughtful acts, and, very important, play with my three Shih-tzus Muffin, Truffles and Snickers.

By taking action each day, Howell aims toward her goal: Being spectacular at 60 and beyond.”