Vanguard Founder Jack Bogle's Rise to Success, Wealth and Modesty

For Vanguard’s 83-year-old founder, it’s always been about the greater good. Just spare him the superlatives.

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He’s diametrically opposed to the commercial branding of the Vanguard name. “If that’s what we did, then there’s a knot in my stomach,” he says.

Laughlin, for one, doesn’t shy away from addressing Bogle’s sizable contrarian streak. “He relishes challenging conventional wisdom and championing unpopular ideas,” he says. “But the fact is that many in the industry view him as a thorn in their side.”

By way of proof, Laughlin relates a story about the Investment Company Institute’s general membership meeting, where George H.W. Bush spoke. After the speech, all the former ICI chairmen were ushered into a room for a private reception with Bush—all, that is, except for Bogle.

“He rightly viewed this snub as petty. But, in relating it to me, there was a trace of, well, disappointment,” Laughlin says. “It made me realize just how lonely his crusade was. The best contrarians—the ones who end up making a difference—need an enormous dose of character and fortitude to weather the push-back and inevitable self-doubt. Fortunately, Jack is well-equipped on all counts.”

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