Bogle adopted his sense of purpose after that career failure at Wellington. Ever since then, he's been devoted to the idea of the long-term success of individual investors, sometimes in moves others would find crazy.
In 1991 he turned down a chance for Vanguard to own the first ETF. Its inventor, Nathan Most, came to Vanguard before taking the concept to State Street, but Bogle rejected him immediately.
"Guess how many people I consulted on that decision?" he asked. "One. Me."
Bogle's view was that because ETFs can be traded throughout the day, they would encourage individual investors to trade. Trading too frequently is one of the biggest pitfalls of individual investing, because trading increases costs and the risk that investors will trade overconfidently or in a panic.
Vanguard has embraced ETFs since Bogle's departure as CEO in 1999. Subsequent CEOs brought internal management skills to the job. "What they haven't done is change the company's culture," Malkiel said.