A Journalism Success Story: David Bradley Was Smart, Asked Good Questions, and Actually Listened

Laurene Powell Jobs solidifies control of The Atlantic as Bradley relinquishes duties

The Atlantic’s David Bradley

Billionaire philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs will assume greater control of the legendary Atlantic magazine as it seeks a new president/CEO and longtime Atlantic Media chairman David Bradley prepares to step away from management duties

—Politico 11/20/19
David Bradley made his money by starting two companies that helped businesses—mostly in the healthcare field—adopt best management practices He bought The Atlantic in 1999, saving it from almost certain decline and fall.

We once had him over to the Washingtonian for a small lunch with our editors and writers. The idea of the lunches was to invite interesting outsiders into our offices and we’d ask them questions about how they did things, what they thought, what they’ve learned. The lunches were off-the-record; we were looking for ideas, not quotes.

To begin the lunch we’d briefly go around the table and let the editors and writers tell the guest who we were—that took a couple of minutes at most. But after about a half hour with Bradley, we had a problem: He was asking all kinds of questions of us, finding out more about who we were and what we knew, not giving us a chance to ask him anything.

Finally I said, “David, you’re here to answer questions,” and he graciously did that.

We came away thinking that he’s successful because he’s smart, he asks good questions, and he actually listens. And that’s why The Atlantic has been successful.

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