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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And Bogle is still passionate about Vanguard. He loves eating in its cafeteria and chatting with veteran employees—2,000 of them with at least 15 years at the company. “He’s tremendously grounded,” says Laughlin, who’s now a project manager in planning and development. “He never fell into the trappings of wealth and success that ensnare other captains of finance and industry. No collection of homes, boats or luxury cars. No lavish vacations or art collections. He’s remained a very simple guy, a child of the Depression who would no sooner make a purchase to let others know just how wealthy he is than fly to the moon.”

Bogle remains careful in evaluating himself, weary of the “great inclination to give oneself the benefit of the doubt.” Religious and patriotic, he’s skeptical of the Information Age and laments the lack of common purpose that pervades society.

“As a teacher of 18th-century English literature and history, I’m struck by how much Jack seemed to fit into that era,” says Chan Hardwick, headmaster of Blair Academy. “It was a time when some leading figures believed that moral authority, reason and self-discipline were the elements of armor against self-doubt, irrationality and human weakness.”

Meanwhile, Vanguard has changed. What was once a “cottage industry” has grown to an empire of 13,000 employees. That size has led to a betrayal of some principles. “I don’t know that it bothers me, but it does disappoint me,” says Bogle.

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