John C. Bogle is a personal hero of mine. He is the epicenter of what people call the Boglehead Investing Philosophy and Common Sense Investing. Plus, he is the very model of ethics and integrity. He is a huge inspiration for why I’ve adopted the mission of teaching financial literacy as a public service—or, as I like to say, what we should be teaching in schools and around kitchen tables, but aren’t.
John always speaks and writes far more eloquently. There are so many quotes that I’m tempted to cite, but I’ll choose the following—because it is so grounded—which is why his following is so huge.
The one great secret of investment success is that there is no secret . . . Investment success, it turns out, lies in simplicity as basic as the virtues of thrift, independence of thought, financial discipline, realistic expectations and common sense.— John C. Bogle
Jack was life-changing to me, both directly by what he said and wrote, and indirectly by Bogleheads inspired by Jack. I explained in the following letter which later was included in the book about Jack called The Man in the Arena (Wiley, 2013) and updated here:
There’s an old saying that has been very true for me: “When you are ready, a teacher will appear.” Jack has been the third, and most influential, of three that I’ll mention. The first was in 1978 when Andrew Tobias wrote his popular best seller with a chapter in it titled: “A Penny Saved Is Two Pennies Earned.” This brilliant observation gave me a solid rationale for building a strong habit of automatic investments from every paycheck.
Ten years later, I met author Vicki Robin, who transformed the way I thought about financial independence. Where my mind associated this phrase with wealth, Vicki described a life of freedom—where she could wake up every morning and volunteer for organizations she supported. Further, she viewed jobs as trading “life energy” for money. And this gave me a framework for spending decisions.
I stumbled upon the Bogleheads’ forum. Wow. Who were these people that were being so helpful, so generous with their time and knowledge, and often anonymously? Inspired by their generosity, I decided to create bite-size educational videos to help others accumulate wealth and achieve financial independence.
Creating these videos led me to the simple elegance of Jack Bogle’s thinking. He writes so compellingly and so clearly. I knew I was on the right track.
By the time he wrote the book Enough., I was convinced that Jack is as noble and unselfish as he appears—the very model of ethics and integrity. For me, he is also a role model of giving back—investing his energy into spreading his commonsense wisdom out through countless interviews, presentations and books. I now understand why the Bogleheads’ website has so many generous individuals more than willing to help others and share this wisdom.
Despite Jack Bogle’s tireless efforts and this gem of a website, these commonsense investing principles are not common knowledge. I’ve decided to do whatever I can to help spread financial literacy. To date I have had over a million views of these video on YouTube, the Boglehead wiki, and my website at FinancingLife.org. I’m encouraged by the start and am working on more. Thank you to Jack, and to all other teachers who are so generous and wise.
Jack died in January 2019. Here is a nice tribute to him.
Rest in peace John Bogle. Thank you for everything.
Rick Van Ness
P.S. Enjoy some of my favorite John C. Bogle quotes — wisdom distilled to colorful and memorable quotes — or one of Bogle’s outstanding books.