Jack Bogle feared this one thing most and it drove him to revolutionize investing with Vanguard

Bogle believed that culture trumped strategy every time and that Vanguard would be a place where everyone’s contribution was valued and respected, McNabb told CNBC on Friday. The culture Bogle fostered at Vanguard was one of hard work, treating everyone with respect, always doing the right thing and putting clients’ interests first, McNabb said.

Bogle feared complacency. He was inspired by the writings of American revolutionary Thomas Paine, who was often quoted in Bogle’s books, and the economist Joseph Schumpeter, who popularized the term “creative destruction.” What other industry executives found disruptive, Bogle thought necessary to remain relevant.

“When you look at Vanguard today, we are a result of a lot of those steps,” said McNabb.

In its first year, Vanguard managed $1.7 billion of customer assets, and when Bogle stepped down as CEO, Vanguard had reached $250 billion assets under management. The company now manages $5.1 trillion, largely because of the popularity of Bogle’s industry-changing idea: index mutual funds.

McNabb became CEO of Vanguard two weeks before the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Amidst the turmoil of the financial crisis, he asked himself, “what would Jack do?,” and recalls Bogle’s favorite phrase: Press on, regardless.

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