Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life by John Bogle is a must-read for anyone in business or in any form of investing. It’s short, it’s concise, and it is packed full of timeless wisdom packaged for modern life.
The book was published in 2009, and I thoroughly regret not picking it up sooner. If every businessperson not only had the same principles as John Bogle…but also put them in real-world practice, I think that we would have a much wealthier, happier, safer world with less suffering and a whole lot less controversy about capitalism and inequality.
John Bogle was a true capitalist. He worked in the financial world, managing massive amounts of capital for investors of all walks of life. He invented a revolutionary financial product that disrupted an entire industry. And he created massive wealth for millions of people. He made plenty of wealth for himself as well.
But unlike most business owners & investors today, he did something a bit different. The plenty of wealth that he made for himself…was plenty.
And he didn’t keep trying to grow & hoard wealth at any cost in order to become a big time philanthropist. Instead, he figured out a way to transform his company into a mutual so that the customers of the company were the owners. The company grew without killing itself chasing growth for growth’s sake.
Enough is a book reflecting on his journey and the business principles that he lived. It’s about how individuals, companies, and societies can build true wealth rather than riches.
It’s about the evils of greed and blind ambition, not only because they are anti-human values, but they end up destroying the very wealth that the blindly ambitious and greedy claim to be building.
But more than anything, it’s about the values of trust, value, success, satisfaction, stewardship, character, and contribution to show that there is such as thing as “Enough”.
What I Liked
Conciseness. The book was to the point, plainly written, well-organized, and well-edited. It made for a fast but memorable read.
Message. I try not to judge a book based on whether I agree with it or not. But this is the kind of book where the author put into exact words that match a cloud of experiences and thoughts I’ve had for years running a good business and interacting with lots of other successful business owners.
It still blows my mind why the measure of business success is no longer profits or even growth but the growth in the rate of growth. For example, it’s not enough for Google (or any business, but their numbers are easy to work with) to earn $100 billion in profits in a year. And it’s not enough for Google to earn $100 billion this year when they earned $90 billion last year. No, no. For Google (or any business) to be “successful” – they need to grow earnings at 12% this year if they grew earnings 10% last year.
And for companies that don’t have earnings yet – it’s about rate of growth in marketshare – with the goal of gaining monopoly power through network effects.
The basic math of compound growth shows that this measure of success is stupid and bound to fail. And maximum marketshare by definition can only be 100%. But that’s where we are at. These kind of numbers are what push otherwise fine, innovative, well-intentioned people to do really aggressive, terrible, evil actions that harm everyone and destroy non-monetary forms of wealth.
Jack Bogle wrote this book in 2009 as a call for change in culture. If the culture of business did not change – that’s when it would take laws & regulations to *force* change. 11 years on and business culture has only gotten worse based on *waves arm at world* and my own personal experience.
The Author. It is extremely refreshing to read a business book written by the actual person (not some PR ghostwriter) and by someone who has actually done stuff in their career…and kept it up over the course of a crazy long career. I use Vanguard’s products. I’ve watched his speeches and know that he’s the real deal…not just someone who is good at dictating platitudes to a ghostwriter.
What I Didn’t Like
There wasn’t a whole lot that I didn’t like. And honestly, anything that I initially didn’t like would detract from what I thought made the book amazing as a whole.
Instead of writing out takeaways, here’s a few pictures of text that really struck me.