To make his point, Bradley cited a example of Bradley-Zients think: "Jeff divides the world into two kinds of people -- hard and soft, soft being is good." Zients, Bradley added, is soft.
Since the sale of the Advisory Board, the two men remain close, but their interests have diverged. Bradley has turned his attention to publishing.
David Bradley, who hired Jeffrey Zients at the Advisory Board, says he rose to the top by helping others.
(Tyler Mallory For The Washington Post)
In 1997, he bought the National Journal Group, and two years later, the Atlantic. Zients doesn't share Bradley's enthusiasm for magazines and hasn't played a major role in Atlantic Media.
While Bradley is also a partner in the Washington Baseball Club, the club is the first venture in years that Zients has helped manage without his mentor.
"He's ready to be his own person. It's hard to do that with me," Bradley said. "It's time for him to have his own enterprise. I don't know if baseball will be it."
Zients shares the burden of doing the club's leg work with Malek, Raines, and executive director Winston Bao Lord. Their collective business savvy will be tested in the coming months. Major League Baseball officials have told aides to the mayor that they want to choose an ownership group by the end of the year. Opening day at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium is scheduled for April.
In a few weeks, Washington Baseball Club partners said they anticipate that Major League Baseball will identify the serious candidates and inform them how the bidding process will work.
In addition to the Washington Baseball Club, potential bidders include the Baseball Club of America, led by New York real estate investor Mark Broxmeyer, and DSG Baseball Group, led by Memphis investment banker Brian Saulsberry.
Zients said what sets the Washington club's bid apart from the rest are the partners' ties to the community, which he said go beyond the memorandum of understanding the club has with the District government designating it as the city's preferred ownership group. "To start up a sports team, it's important to have people from the community who know city officials and business leaders, who have done other projects in the community," Zients said.
Zients has done his part to maintain a close working relationship with District officials.
While city leaders were in negotiations with Major League Baseball officials over bringing the Expos to Washington, Zients became a frequent board for them. Stephen M. Green, special assistant to Williams for economic development, said in the past few months, he talked to Zients on the phone every couple of days.
"I kept saying [to Green], 'You guys are swamped. Is there any research we can do? Any calls we can make?" Zients said.
Being helpful exemplifies another bit of Bradley-Zients think -- "coming in under."
"By coming in under, [Jeff] rises to the top," Bradley said.