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Q&A: What keeps Vanguard founder Jack Bogle ticking


Stashed in: Business, Investing, Personal Finance, Business Advice, Awesome

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Smart man.

Q: HOW DID THE GREAT DEPRESSION SHAPE YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF MONEY? 

A: You understand a whole lot about money when there isn't any. What you learn is that money is hard to come by, and it is important not to waste it. By the time I was 12, I was working every summer, including as a pinsetter in a bowling alley. If I ever wanted anything, I knew I had to earn the money myself.

Q: AS YOU BECAME A SUCCESS, WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT HANDLING WEALTH? 

A: One important factor is that my wife and I are totally sympatico when it comes to money. She is very thrifty and frugal, has good values, and is not a big spender. 

Q: HOW DO YOU APPROACH PHILANTHROPY? 

A: I start with repaying my debts. My biggest debts were to Blair Academy and Princeton, where I went on scholarship. I also think the local United Way is extremely important, which I made a high priority at Vanguard. When you live somewhere, you have an obligation to that community. Then there is Bryn Mawr Hospital, where I got my heart transplant. 

Q: DID YOUR HEART TRANSPLANT IN 1996 CLARIFY WHAT IS TRULY IMPORTANT IN LIFE? 

A: I had to wait 128 days in a hospital for a transplant, not knowing if I was going to live or die. So I feel an enormous sense of gratitude to my angels of mercy - the doctors and nurses, and to the heart donor who was only 26 years old. I even wrote a letter to the family, but I never heard back. It makes you value your life and your good fortune, and praise the Lord. Then you get on with your new life. I am 87 now, and I count my blessings every day.

Q: WHAT MONEY MISTAKES IN YOUR CAREER STAND OUT TO YOU?

God, let me count the ways. I guess buying individual stocks, which I did through a broker for about a dozen years back in the 1950s and 60s. It eventually occurred to me that I wasn't getting anywhere.

Q: WHAT LIFE LESSONS DO YOU PASS ALONG TO YOUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN?

A: I don't want to lecture to them, so I just try to live a life they could learn from, by observing what I actually do. A lot of parents talk a big game, and then don't live up to that. That is hypocrisy. So I do my best to live a straight and honest life.

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