Jack Bogle


You can blame the cabin pressure for a long winded 'intro/context' to all this, you can skip to the bottom if you're interested in reading the notes from my call with Jack Bogle.

30K feet above Montana

Wow. It's been a long time since posting here. A few weeks ago I found myself on the NJ transit writing:

I's currently 603pm and I'm on a NJ transit headed into the city. I got on the train at 150pm. We had a crazy 3 hour delay. So, 4 hours into this train ride, here it goes.

But apparently I got distracted because I didn't really write anything after that. So, well now I'm on a flight to Portland (gonna spend a few days working on a farm with a friend, wooo). Spent the flight so far reading/listening, and now writing a bit with this post.

Let's just pause for a second. I's incredible: I am writing on some wonderous computer invention while being 30K+ feet up in the air in a miraculous flying metal container over Montana. Here's the flight path right now:

A few weeks ago Jack Bogle passed away. It made a lot of news headlines--regarded as one of the legends of finance, having built a company against the grain that now manages 13 figures-worth of assets (I just counted up to trillion on my fingers :D). I was hesitant to share because well, people know him really well, and what am I to say about someone I met once and spoke to another time? But then I realized those one-off encounters with someone can provide a small window into yet another dimension to someone's beingness. Also, on a personal note--that morning before seeing on the news he died, I thought to email him (not that he would reply or anything). So when I heard he passed away, having just thought about reaching out, caught me off guard to say the least.


I briefly met him while at college. I got some email invite from the student civic/nonprofit hub that we could meet this guy named Jack Bogle (he's an alumn and big school donor). I remember at the time debating if I should take off from doing work. And well, duh, glad I did (I can't remember what I was ostensibly so busy with, but I sure as heck remember the meeting). It was nice, a few of us met him and we spoke about what we did on campus and all.

Fast-forward a bit, I graduate and find myself speaking with a person who handles alumni donor relations regarding nonprofit work. He suggested I reach out to Mr. Bogle for some guidance. And so I wrote mailed him a letter/card, and soon after got a reply via email thanking for the note and to schedule a call.

The conversation we subsequently had (regarding nonprofits/career/life stuff) over the phone made such impression, of which I hope I can convey a slice of that. I found my unedited notes from the conversation we had over the phone and thought to include it as a pdf here, nothing is sensitive, but I cannt vouch for the accuracy of my typing :D.

Real Bogle

I don't have any mindblowing takeaways from the content of it beyond what one might expect: the importance of persistance, dedication, values, etc. But what was so signifcant was I suppose everything beyond the content: his demeanor, how he reflected on his life--it was, for lack of a better word, 'real'. Yea, it's not just that he was a regular dude, but he didn't pretend he was anything but that--real, regular, and just putting one foot in front of the other each day. Someone with nothing to prove, just Bogle being Bogle.

It was incredibly refreshing to hear. And in many ways that says a lot more--because, at the end day, when it comes to navigating life, the reality is far simpler than what ancient texts or modern views make it out to be. And it's not that I don't appreciate those works--it helps put things into perspective (and maybe triggers other helpful thoughts). But what the world is, and how we relate to it, at the core is very simple. And beauitifully so.

We miraculously one day woke up out of a womb, took our first breath, and have a memory of a life that starts some few years later. Along the way we picked up these hopes/dreams/beliefs/values and a lot of other associated stuff. We have our own views of it all, and then are often exposed to other people's (from previous millenia to now). But at the end of the day, the actual actions are a lot simpler. We breathe in, take a step, breathe out--and through it all create meaning in our lives.

And well, from this one small side that I was fortunate to see, from the little I saw Jack Bogle lived that way. He didn't get caught up in the myriad philosophies of life, he lived his own life. You don't need philosophy to tell you how to take a step forward. It's about straightforward convinction, something accessible to all. And in that way, a democratic undertanding of how to approach life, as it were.

And well, I suppose it would be too ironic to dress this post up to anything more than it is. Thank you Mr. Bogle for taking the time to speak with a young punk.

If you enjoy this kind of stuff, click here to stay in the loop.