Second of two articles At 20, he was running his own business, leasing jets to fly college students to spring break in Fort Lauderdale and the Caribbean. His headquarters was a bedroom in his parents' Bethesda apartment, and he ran the business with one friend and a couple of phone lines. But Daniel Snyder says he cleared $1 million. By 25, he was in publishing -- and $3 million in the hole. His college magazine was distributed on 500 campuses, but it was hemorrhaging money lent by Snyder's new-found mentor, real estate and publishing power Mortimer B. Zuckerman. Snyder was pursued by creditors, and in 1991 a bank seized his prized $50,000 Lotus sports coupe. Today, after crafting a spectacular turnaround from the shreds of that failed business, Snyder measures his wealth at nearly half a billion dollars. And at 34, he stands on the verge of buying a toy far shinier than his lost Lotus -- a major share in the ownership of the Washington Redskins. If the National Football League consents, Snyder could soon join New York real estate billionaires Howard and Edward Milstein as co-owners of the team he has cheered since boyhood. Snyder's pursuit of the Redskins is marked by the same audacity that built Snyder Communications Inc. into an international marketing firm with annual revenue of $815 million and growing. There are his outsized goals, his chutzpah in going after them and a fanatical effort that his lieutenants are required to match. There is also his knack for winning the allegiance of business magnates twice his age. His closest friend, Tony Roberts, a Bethesda eye surgeon, said Snyder's wooing of Zuckerman in 1986 is the signature of Snyder's style. "That is pure Dan, to be able to convince a real estate mogul to invest {when} you are a little kid. . . . That is Dan's genius." Snyder does not claim genius credentials: "Everything I do is obvious." Visitors to his 15th-floor Bethesda office meet an affable man dressed in a neat, unflashy blue suit and white shirt, IBM-style from the 1960s. Yet Snyder's success is a case study in aiming for seemingly inaccessible heights. After his near-disaster in publishing, Snyder reinvented his small company by offering specialized marketing services to Fortune 500 firms. In 1996 he hitched Snyder Communications to the stock market and used the millions acquired from stock sales to buy a string of advertising and marketing companies. Those moves have increased Snyder Communications' revenue tenfold in three years and have made him one of the richest men in the Washington area. Still, Snyder's move on the Redskins seemed to come out of nowhere. He runs his marketing empire from an ordinary office tower near Montgomery Mall. Washington area business leaders, who gathered at the Hay-Adams Hotel for dinner last month to meet the Milsteins -- the out-of-towners who soon might co-own the team -- found Snyder a new face, too. "I gather not many people in the business community know him," said the dinner's host, Washington lawyer Bob Linowes. When the story broke about the Snyder group's winning Redskins bid, former classmates scurried for yearbooks to look up the photo of the Bethesda boy-turned-multimillionaire, but several said they still couldn't remember him. He calls his school years "unimpressive," and after a few semesters of college he quit. Even as far back as age 14, when he took a job at the B. Dalton bookstore at White Flint, life seemed to begin and end with work. By 17 he was reading the Wall Street Journal, and by 20 he was running his own business, though no one could fathom just where he got his ideas or his nerve. It was as if a battle-scarred salesman had taken up residence in the body of a teenager. And always, there was the Redskins. His father took him to his first game when he was 7, and as a youngster he wore a Redskins belt buckle to school. It is no accident, Snyder agrees, that his favorite Redskins player is Pat Fischer, the undersize, steely cornerback of the George Allen era. "I like being the underdog," he says. "I was the underdog." A Kid on the Fringes' There was little hint of Snyder's future success in the childhood of a boy so quiet that classmate Bill Levin remembers him only as a kid "on the fringes" at Charles Woodward High School, which has since closed. "I think he was just one of those kids that never came to your attention," said John Tomlinson, a former school counselor. "He wasn't like Oh, my God, he was the biggest nerd,' " said another classmate. "He was a nice, quiet guy." He attended Hillandale Elementary School in White Oak and played football in an after-school league, where he and his teammates once were awarded trophies by Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann. In 1976 the Snyder family moved to England, where Dan spent about two years at Gillott's School in Henley-on-Thames, north of London. His father was a writer, and his mother raised the kids. He finished junior high in Forest Hills, N.Y. All that moving around forged a strong bond between Snyder and his only sibling, Michele, now 36, who helped him start Snyder Communications and is its president and chief operating officer. The pair learned to "rely on each other" and to adapt quickly to the ever-changing scene, Michele said in an interview. By 1979 the family had moved back to Montgomery County, this time to an apartment off Rockville Pike and yet another new school. But in Snyder's own script of his life, it is as if those years hardly exist. School clubs? Teams? Friends? Questions elicit vague replies. "I've always been an oddball," he says of his school years. He is reticent to discuss his education, lest youngsters, especially his own two daughters, ages 3 and 1, someday seek to follow his example. "I happened to read a lot of books and take a different tack to life that I wouldn't want for my children." A Father's Example Ask Dan Snyder who he is, and the first words out of his mouth are about his father. Gerald Snyder -- a journalist and Dan's sidekick in early business ventures -- is "really a fantastic friend of mine," says the son, though both make a point of just how different they are. Daniel Snyder says he lacks his father's creativity. Gerald Snyder jokes that his son's raw business talent "didn't come from me." But Gerald Snyder's influence is unmistakable in the younger man's be-your-own-boss mentality, his willingness to take risks, his appetite for adventure. Some of Dan's "spirit for life," friend Tony Roberts said, "came from his father -- if you work hard, things will work." Gerald Snyder, now 65, worked most of his life as a journalist and freelance author, turning out more than a dozen books. A 1958 University of Missouri graduate, he freelanced in Europe and met his wife, Arlette, who is French, in Casablanca, Morocco. They lived in Madrid, but once Dan's sister was on the way, the couple moved to Snyder's native New York, where he went to work for United Press International. The family's next move was to Silver Spring, when Dan was 2, and Snyder took a job at National Geographic. Four years later, Snyder chucked the stability of a paycheck and struck out for the feast-or-famine life of freelancing. "There was something in my own nature . . . where I was happiest working for myself," Gerry Snyder recalls. Dan Snyder remembers the frustrations and struggles of those years, when his father would write corporate research briefs to pay the bills. When he got an assignment, "it was a big thing, 1,500 bucks." He admired his father, and the experience "made me stronger, I think, just to watch him with the trials and tribulations." The family was always close. On Sundays, there were "football picnics" in front of the TV, where Arlette Snyder would spread a blanket and serve up hot dogs and sandwiches. Later, when Dan was in high school, his pal Roberts said he would join the group and Arlette would cook "her Redskins chili." The elder Snyder encouraged Dan in his earliest ventures and willingly played junior associate. When Dan Snyder started Sports Tours, Dad wrote the travel fliers. When it came to Campus USA magazine, Gerry was editor, writer and columnist, sometimes using pen names to disguise the fact that at first he was "the entire editorial staff," as Roberts recently joked. Snyder already recognized the need to make his son-and-pop outfit look like a player to the Fortune 500 clients he was chasing. The solution? "There was a certain degree of puffery . . . never to the extent of anything unethical," says Gary Frahm, a former Snyder marketing executive and now a publisher in Baltimore. Snyder knew this drill well. Back when he and Roberts answered the phone in his bedroom for Sports Tours, Roberts recalls, they'd tell callers to wait while they connected them to another department, then put them on hold, pause and return to the call themselves. To add cachet, Campus USA -- a slick publication aimed at college students -- carried a $1.75 price tag on the cover, even though it generally was free. As for college, Dan Snyder was "a little bored" by it. After graduating from Woodward in 1982, he took business, speech and drama courses at Montgomery College, then dabbled in physical education and business at the University of Maryland for a few semesters. That was it. "He never dropped in enough to be a dropout," his father recalls. While some fathers might have scolded or preached, Gerald Snyder had a gentler philosophy. "I always felt that you can push, but you have to push along the interests of the student." Dan, he said, was not "very academic, he was very smart." He added, "He was just a natural businessman." Snyder vividly recalls a day when "Danny," as he still calls him, laid out plans for a new magazine all over the living-room floor. "I would have . . . preferred to fiddle around with the presentation," the father recalled. "He was impatient. . . . The next thing I knew, he got an office" and started publishing. "I was in awe." Dan Snyder's thank-you to his dad was awesome, too -- nearly 4 million shares of Snyder Communications stock, which his father sold for $60 million in 1996 when the company went public. Impressing Zuckerman The Zuckerman connection is already part of the fast-growing lore about Snyder's rise. Less well known is that Zuckerman's team had pushed Snyder to the brink financially by halting support for Snyder's failing campus magazine in the late 1980s. The support began around 1986, when Snyder was seeking backers for Campus USA. Zuckerman, whose U.S. News & World Report was also interested in the college market, was a natural prospect. Snyder began calling, calling and calling, says Bill Harris, then U.S. News's executive vice president, now president and chief executive of Intuit Inc., the California software firm. As often as an irritated Harris said no, Snyder kept coming back. "It wasn't simply persistence. It was persistence with a new twist, a new angle, something to justify yet another conversation," Harris said. Zuckerman remembers that Snyder was 23 when Harris sent the young would-be publisher to see him. "At the time, he said he was 25, as if 25 was that much older. It was a real laugher." Zuckerman's first reaction: "I'm glad I'm not competing against this guy." Zuckerman and Fred Drasner, co-publisher of Zuckerman's New York Daily News, put nearly $3 million behind Campus USA. But it wasn't enough to float a loser. Circulation kept growing, he said, but the advertising didn't. "I'd call and say, Whoops. It looks like I just lost another hundred thousand dollars last month.' I'm doing it now with a smile, but then it was hard. I had to grit my teeth to call, 'cause they're going to be screaming," Snyder said. Early in 1988, Zuckerman cut Snyder off. Debts escalated, forcing Snyder to juggle payments to creditors. Freelance Hollywood photographer Phil Stern, whose photo of James Dean ran on the cover of a 1988 Campus USA issue, sued Snyder after waiting months for a $1,300 payment. "They stretched it out and stretched it out," Stern said. After more than a year, he settled for $500. A decade later, his comments about Snyder aren't printable. The magazine's publishing company in Buffalo went to court to collect past-due bills. So did the Rockville firm that inserted the magazine into college newspapers and the company that had leased Snyder his office copier. Rock bottom came in 1991 when a D.C. bank seized Snyder's Lotus sports car. But eventually the claims were paid or satisfied, Snyder said. Drasner took to calling Snyder the "Timex," as in "takes a licking and keeps on ticking." The ladder Snyder found out of that hole was a new venture -- a marketing company. Advertising executives at companies such as Procter & Gamble and Kellogg wanted to know, could Snyder distribute product samples? Could he do market testing? "I said, Sure. Absolutely. Not a problem,' " even though he'd never done it. Early in 1989, Snyder formed his next venture, Snyder Communications, and despite initial misgivings, Zuckerman and Drasner again joined as partners. "He had hit a dead end. But I thought he had the talent, so we continued to back him," Zuckerman said. A decade later, Zuckerman's $3 million wager on Snyder has been repaid a hundredfold. Snyder, in turn, credits Zuckerman for making him "suffer." "The only way to succeed when you're understaffed and undercapitalized and under-everything is just to work your brains out. There's a theory: Keep on trucking.' It's not from Harvard Business School, but it's from the school of hard knocks, which is what I'm from," Snyder said. Demands From the Top Today, with a company whose stock market value is about $2.5 billion, Snyder still pushes himself and his associates relentlessly. When Thomas H. McCormick, a Washington lawyer who works with Snyder, is asked to describe him in a word, he chooses four: "unwilling to accept defeat." Snyder's success owes much to his immersion in the details of consumer demographics and marketing trends. His company began by hanging targeted advertising messages in doctors' offices and moved on, for example, to distributing Pampers to maternity clinics, selling AT&T long-distance service to homesick immigrants and marketing Prozac for Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., using Snyder's own sales force. By concentrating his telemarketing operation on non-English-speaking immigrants, he carved out a valuable niche in the sale of long-distance services for AT&T, and the company's payments to Snyder escalated from $1.7 million in 1994 to $25 million the next year. Seeing a speed-up in the regulatory approval of new drugs, he acquired companies whose sales staff could help drug companies flood the market with powerhouse new medications. Today, more than 40 percent of Snyder's revenue comes from health care and pharmaceuticals. To carry out his strategies, he insists that executives match his hell-for-leather pace. Seven-day weeks -- with a break for Sunday football viewing -- are customary. "I'm for producing results. Absolutely," Snyder says. "People have to step up or step out." The pressure that Snyder and his sister place on their executives and associates leads to contradictory views of the two. John T. Schwieters, who heads the large Washington office of the Arthur Andersen consulting firm, which Snyder retains, says Snyder is "very direct" and "very fair." "He gives people a chance to correct their performance, but he's acted quickly when he thought they couldn't perform," Schwieters said. Frahm, Snyder's former colleague, says Snyder "could be difficult to work for" but lived up to his word. Some who have worked for Dan and Michele Snyder say their hard-nosed style sometimes goes too far. Of a dozen senior vice presidents who were working at Snyder when the company went public in 1996, half have left, for varying reasons, according to a former Snyder executive. For some, the pressure grew into intimidation, the former executive said. Like several other former executives, the ex-Snyder aide declined to be identified. While the Snyders have formed alliances with some of the nation's biggest, hardest-to-please consumer products companies, their style has sometimes left bruises. In mid-1996, Michele Snyder sued one of the occupants of the Bethesda office building where Snyder Communications is based, after the tenant said he might not be able to turn over his space to the Snyders for their fast-growing business on the agreed-upon schedule. The lawsuit was overkill, contends the tenant's attorney, Frank J. Carmel, who complained of Michele Snyder's "bullying tactics" in a letter to the Snyders' attorney. "It was very aggressive, very unnecessary," Carmel said last week. The Snyders got the space, on the appointed date. Redskins and Expectations Snyder's passion for the Redskins and his exacting approach suggest that the team stands to get a very enthusiastic, demanding co-owner. Three public stock offerings since 1996 raised a total of $626 million to fuel Snyder Communications' growth and thus created his fortune. Snyder took roughly $100 million in cash out of the company before and since its stock became public, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents and interviews with him. With limited financial backing from his father, Snyder is purchasing a one-third interest in the Redskins for about $200 million, he said. The purchase price of about $800 million is reduced by about $150 million in remaining debt on Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, which would become the responsibility of the new owners. Snyder's share includes both cash and a large loan, he said, declining to provide specifics. The loan is personally guaranteed, he said, not backed by his $325 million in Snyder Communications stock. Snyder says that notwithstanding his minority interest in the team, he and the Milsteins will be "co-owners" operating "by consensus." "I tell people it's Milstein-Snyder," Snyder says. "It really is." While Snyder says the owners will leave the operation of the Redskins to its professional managers and coaches, he expects a winner. His friend Mark Jennings of Generation Partners in New York, a Snyder Communications director, says Snyder "will do what it takes to get the best people" to manage the team. "If they don't perform, his style is to quickly make a move" to replace them. Living Large There is a streak of self-indulgence in Snyder's otherwise button-down demeanor that sometimes shows up in his garage. In 1986, flush from success in the travel business, Snyder and Roberts together bought Porsches. "His was decked out, which is consistent with his style," Roberts said. "He had every option." While Snyder has spent much of his life pushing hard and growing into jobs that seemed too big for him, he also knows how to pause and luxuriate in his success. Today, on the grounds of his iron-gated home in Bethesda, there are two Ferraris with six-figure price tags: a 550 Maranello coupe and a Spider convertible. "I actually don't drive them much," Snyder says. "I'm terrible. The batteries keep dying in the garage." When he travels on business or to the Super Bowl, as he did last month, it is in his corporate jet, a Challenger. On weekends, there's a boat to enjoy or perhaps a ski trip to Aspen. When he relaxes with his board of directors, he might puff on a $5 Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur cigar. Jennings believes that Snyder, like many of their generation who have gone so far so fast, is now searching for "balance" in his life. Part of that means spending more time with his daughters and his wife, Tanya, a model from Atlanta whom he met on a blind date and married in 1994. Part may be his recent interest in several business and community organizations. He has lavished $3 million on Children's National Medical Center -- quite a sum, particularly for a man in his thirties, said John Wm. Thomas, the hospital's vice president for development. "Usually philanthropy is something that people in their fifties and sixties do, {as they} begin to consider their legacy." Congenial when the subject is business or the Redskins, Snyder does not always welcome the spotlight. "That's private" came his reply to many questions. Major areas of his life -- his wife, his children, his favorite vacation destinations -- are simply off limits. "We have never been asked that before, and I guess I will never answer," Snyder said when asked his religious denomination. Nor is he entirely comfortable with his dizzying ascent. He "never has told {how he} started from his bedroom," Roberts said. "When out in the big business world, he didn't want people to know he came from humble means." The kid who started hawking bus trips to students on spring break now wants to step into the shoes of former Redskins owners Edward Bennett Williams and Jack Kent Cooke. Said Zuckerman of his young friend: "Certainly, he's still a work in progress." Staff researchers Richard Drezen, Bobbye Pratt and Margot Williams contributed to this report. Daniel M. Snyder Age: 34 Home: Grew up in Montgomery County and England Father: Gerald Mother: Arlette Business: Founder, chairman and chief executive of Snyder Commmunications Inc., Bethesda. 1984: Starts Sports Tours. 1986: Starts Campus USA. 1988: Mort Zuckerman and associates invest $2.7 million in Campus USA. With Campus USA failing and the Zuckerman investment lost, Snyder closes magazine business and starts marketing company. 1989: Snyder Communications formed. First product: "WallBoard" magazine-on-the-wall displaying advertising messages, hung on campuses, in doctors' waiting rooms and in other offices. 1991: Begins distributing sample packs of leading consumer products to expectant mothers and other customers. Revenue: $2.7 million. 1992: Starts telemarketing services, focusing on immigrant communities. Revenue: $4.1 million. 1993: Revenue: $9 million. 1994: Revenue: $11.7 million. 1995: Revenue: $42.9 million. 1996: Snyder Communications sells stock to public, raising $62 million. Principal shareholders and holdings at time of offering: Dan Snyder, 10.7 million shares (32 percent of total shares); Mortimer B. Zuckerman, 6.8 million shares (20.4 percent); Michele Snyder (Snyder's sister and company's president), 3.7 million shares (11.2 percent); Fred Drasner, co-publisher of Zuckerman's U.S. News & World Report, 2.93 million shares (8.75 percent). Revenue: $82.8 million. 1997: Using its publicly traded stock, Snyder begins a series of more than a dozen acquisitions of direct marketing, advertising and market research firms in the United States, Britain and France, continuing into 1999. Revenue: $333 million. 1998: Revenue: $815 million. Snyder's sale of his company stock in 1997 and 1998 approximates $100 million, underpinning his share of the Redskins bid. CAPTION: Daniel Snyder catches a toss inside his home in Bethesda. ec CAPTION: Bethesda eye surgeon Tony Roberts, left, Daniel Snyder's friend since high school, worked with him on one of his earliest and boldest ventures, from Snyder's bedroom. ec