Food for Thought

5 Pieces of Advice From John Bogle

John C. Bogle, is widely seen as having changed how ordinary people invest their money. His firm, the Vanguard Group of Investment Companies, which grew to have $4.9 trillion under management, was built on a belief that, over the long term, most investment managers cannot outperform the broad stock market averages.

“Jack Bogle made an impact on not only the entire investment industry, but more importantly, on the lives of countless individuals saving for their futures or their children’s futures,” Tim Buckley, Vanguard’s chief executive, said in a statement.

Here are some of Mr. Bogle’s investment tips:

“Wise investors won’t try to outsmart the market,” he says. “They’ll buy index funds for the long term, and they’ll diversify.”

Long-term investors must hold stocks even though the market is risky, because they are still likely to produce better returns than the alternatives, Mr. Bogle said in 2012.

Investors should weather any storms, he told The Wall Street Journal in 2016.

“If we’re going to have lower returns, well, the worst thing you can do is reach for more yield. You just have to save more.”

Money managers missed all the warning signs before the 2008 financial crisis, Mr. Bogle noted:

“How could so many highly skilled, highly paid securities analysts and researchers have failed to question the toxic-filled, leveraged balance sheets of Citigroup and other leading banks and investment banks?”

In 2017, he waved younger investors away from financial advisers and gave his approval to robo-advisers.

“Unless you need a financial adviser to help you get started in that routine, you probably don’t need a financial adviser at all,” he told CNBC.

Vanguard’s fund shareholders own it collectively, so there is no parent company or private owner to siphon profit, allowing the firm to keep costs down.

“In investing, you get what you don’t pay for. Costs matter. So intelligent investors will use low-cost index funds to build a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, and they will stay the course. And they won’t be foolish enough to think that they can consistently outsmart the market.”

Mr. Bogle became a harsh critic in his later years of the mutual fund industry and the high fees charged to investors for stock-picking expertise.

Invest in a diverse selection of stocks and bonds, trust in the arithmetic and stick to it — this was the essence of Mr. Bogle’s advice for Vanguard investors. “Impulse is your enemy,” was one of the mantras.

“Eliminate emotion from your investment program. Have rational expectations for future returns and avoid changing those expectations in response to the ephemeral noise coming from Wall Street.”

Mr. Bogle was the leading proponent of structuring an investment portfolio to mirror the performance of a market yardstick, like the S&P 500 stock index.

“The S&P 500 is a great proxy,” Mr. Bogle told The Wall Street Journal last year, adding that he hadn’t bought an individual stock in about 25 years.

Mr. Bogle also told CNBC that the United States market was a safer bet than other markets. “U.S. companies are innovative and entrepreneurial,” he said.

This Is Your Company One Year From Now

According to a Harvard Business Review survey, the quality that most distinguishes a leader from a non-leader is how capable she is of forward-thinking. In other words, a leader is someone who envisions a unique view of the future — and can enlist others into that shared vision.

What’s your vision for your organization? If it’s not as forward-thinking as it could be, run it through an exercise called One Year From Now. It’s a strategy-shaping technique that helps leadership articulate how innovation will shape their org twelve months from now — and what steps need to be taken to make that vision a reality.

Along with your fellow senior leaders, take twenty minutes to answer these questions:

  • What’s a recent news headline about our company?
  • What are the key topics our company’s thought leaders are speaking about at conferences?
  • What emerging social issue is our organization associated with?
  • What are customers or clients tweeting about us?
  • What’s the word on Wall Street about us?
  • What are the sales teams at our competition saying about us?
  • What’s the CEO of our top competitor saying about us?
  • Why are our employees excited about coming to work here?

Once you’ve got your future-thinking answers, imagine yourselves a year from now. It’s 2019 and your company has achieved the vision of success it just articulated. To reveal how you got here, take another twenty minutes to answer the following questions individually or in small teams.

  • What one decision or action put us on the path to success?
  • What was our biggest barrier to change?
  • How did we successfully overcome that barrier?
  • What exactly compelled us to make those changes?
  • Who exactly was the driving force for those changes?
  • How did we get buy-in for the changes we made?
  • What would have happened if we had just maintained last year’s status quo?

When time’s up, everyone’s answers should be shared with the room, and any common themes or ideas should be captured. Discuss the feasibility of the most strategic ideas and tactics, and then agree on your top three immediate priorities. Reconvene monthly to track the company’s progression toward its goals for next year and keep people accountability.

Imagining your company twelve months from now can replace hazy or lazy plans for innovation with a clear roadmap for achieving success.Whether you’re a hot start-up or a global brand, this simple technique can put you on track for becoming synonymous with 2019 round-ups of innovators of the year.


The United States, and many countries in the world, are about to experience the greatest transfer of generational influence, power and absolute number of people in history.

The Millennial and Digital Native/Gen Z generations, those born since 1981, will become the majority of the U.S. population in 2020. Each of these generations are now bigger than the Baby Boom generation.  This will trigger massive change for all businesses.

I use the name Digital Natives as it more clearly defines the generation than the moniker Generation Z [I have never understood this alphabet thing.  What happens next, another run through the alphabet starting with A?]  They are the first generation born into the digital age.  They were born into information overload, but to them it is simply reality.  Studies have shown that they have more synaptic activity going on in their brains than we do as a result.  The Digital Native generation is truly different in thinking, awareness and consciousness.  They will be the first fully formed generation of the 21st century.

Today we live in a country – and a world- that was largely shaped by the Great Generation [born prior to 1928], the Silent Generation [born 1929- 1946] and the Baby Boomer Generation [ 1946-1965].  Our mind set, social norms, workplace values and structures were put in place by these three generations. This is what Boomers and GenX [1966-1980] people in business consider “reality”.  That reality will be transformed in the next 10 years.

Here are several ways to think about this as you look into the future of your business:

-These two generations, particularly the Digital Natives, the first generation of the 21st century, do not value, trust, or even respect the institutions of their elders.  The don’t see the government working well, they don’t trust big financial institutions, they are the first generations to come of age with both war and less than a prosperous economy being all they know.

-These young generations are less materialist and more experiential than prior generations.  They would rather take an adventure trip with their friends than buy an expensive thing.

-They want meaning in their lives and want to feel they are both contributing and making a difference.  Sure, they want to make money, but they are not as materially focused as their parent’s generations.

-The Millennials and Digital Natives will soon be the potential majority of both your customers and your employees.

What all this means is that workplace and marketplace realities will change substantially by 2025.

Relative to the workplace, complete equality of the sexes will be expected, more vacation time might be more important that a raise, flexibility of dress code, work hours and what purpose or social good your company stands for will be of importance.

In the marketplace, the sharing economy, the more collective social aspect of these young generations, the complete comfort and reliance on technology, the desire to have access to things rather than owning them will alter the economy.

Look at your children or grandchildren, recognize how different they are than you.  Then prepare for a changing economy and ways of doing business that reflect those differences.

Current Millennial Leaders

 I have had conversations with numerous Millennial CEOs – yes, there are already a lot of them- and they voice common thoughts:

-They feel they need to alter or buck the management theories and practices of the Boomers and GenXers. They question current processes and practices.

-They express impatience with the slow pace of business and are always trying to find ways to get their companies to move faster and to be able to change course quickly if needed.  Flexibility and speed are two words I have heard Millennial CEOs say a lot.

-They consider themselves to be a bridge generation between the prior generations and the Digital Natives born since the late 1990s. They see how different this 21st century generation is from them.  I have heard several 30 and under CEOs tell me that they feel their responsibility is to be the bridge from past/current ways of doing business to the future ways business will be done by the Digital Natives.

-They are deeply into technology.  They view it not as tools, but the core of any business.

-They are not at all afraid to fail.  This makes them almost supremely confident.

-They want to make an impact.  Yes, they want to make money, but making a difference, changing the way people think, altering how people work and aligning work with values or the common good are topics they often express


This unprecedented generational shift is already underway.  By 2025 it will be clearly seen and felt in the United States in most business sectors.  The new generational attitudes, sensibilities and outlook on life will affect American  culture and society before they transform the business sector.

We will be living in the new world of Millennials and Digital Natives in a few years.  Be open to it as they are leading us into the developing reality of the 21st century.

Oh, one last fact: only 20% of Millennials have ever had a Big Mac. Change is coming!




After a busy 2018 of Vistage workshops, keynotes and client engagements across the country and around the world, I thought this was a good time to reflect on the Trends from the Trenches I’ve been hearing and seeing from CEOs and their key executives—and from their clients, college students and customers. What are they seeing? What are the major trends they are confronting as they wrap up 2018 and begin to plan for the new year? Well, some are rather disturbing. Others are very encouraging. Here are ten that are worth sharing. But please, don’t get change fatigue. The pace and path of change are not slowing down. I invite you to enjoy the journey and learn how to “see, feel and think” in new ways. Here we go…

Pay Attention to these Top 10 Trends

Our fundamental attribution error

When someone else screws up, it’s because of who they are, their race, their upbringing… a glimpse into their true character.

When we do something, it’s because the situation we’re in caused it to happen.

The fundamental attribution error is based on a glitch in the way we understand causation and statistics, and it’s fueled by our unique view of ourselves. Because I’m the only person who can hear the story in my head.

It’s obvious that gender and other easily visible traits are not completely correlated with behavior. And yet we act as if they are, writing off countless individuals instead of embracing the contribution they can offer.

George Washington vs. Workplace Drama

10 Ways to Dial It Down from America’s Founding CEO

When George Washington was a teenager, he both copied out by hand and tweaked 110 “rules of civility and decent behavior.” These rules had been compiled by Jesuits in late 16th century France and made the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.

Manners were up in the air in this new world when Washington put quill to paper. You see, manners were designed for men of high standing, determined by birth. “Court”-liness literally referred to a king or nobleman’s court and how one should act in that context.

What was expected of most commoners was not really manners but deference. You can see this in some of the rules that Washington copied out.

For instance, rule 26 began, “In pulling off your hat to persons of distinction, as noblemen, justices, churchmen, and company, make a reverence bowing more or less according to the custom of the better bred…”

Manners for everyone

But you can also see a break from hard caste in the very next sentence with “but among your equals…” Washington would oversee the rise of a new nation in which most men were equals (with the unforgettable exception of slaves).

These new people believed that the democratization of power called for not less but more widespread observance of manners. Washington sought to model these manners in his life, on the battlefield, as a farmer-businessman, and as president.

10 rules plus one more

Many of Washington’s rules are still relevant today. For this issue on how to motivate your team in the workplace, I offer a curated list of 10 rules on how to behave that will help today’s leaders to command respect, capped off with a bonus rule that we all would do well to head.

  1. Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.
  2. Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another though he were your enemy.
  3. Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive.
  4. When a man does all he can, though it succeed not well, blame not him that did it.
  5. Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of any.
  6. Speak not injurious words neither in jest nor earnest; scoff at none although they give occasion.
  7. Be not forward but friendly and courteous, the first to salute, hear, and answer; and be not pensive when it’s a time to converse.
  8. Detract not from others, neither be excessive in commanding.
  9. When your superiors talk to anybody neither speak nor laugh.
  10. Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust.

Bonus: Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.


The developed countries of the world are in transition from economies based upon ownership to ones increasingly based upon rental or access.  As much as any other trend, this will transform economics, consumption and how we live.  The concept of ownership is deeply embedded in economic thought, policy and practice and has been for centuries.

This trend first became clear to me some nine years ago in the area of real estate. It was clear that housing starts had dramatically moved from single family homes to multi-unit rentals. The all-time high mark of home ownership in the U.S. was 69.2% in 2004 and was at 68% when the mortgage crisis hit in 2008.  The current level of home ownership is 64.3%.  It will never again reach the 2004 level.

In the European Union, where the history of ownership is much older, the high level of home ownership was 73.2 in 2008 and is now at 69.2.  Again, I think that the old high-water mark will not be met again.

Since the Great Recession, there has been an explosion in rental, subscription or access models across the developed countries of the world.  Think first about content.  We have moved from purchasing CDs to MP3 files to streaming services such as Spotify.  We have moved from purchasing DVDs to monthly streaming subscriptions.  Streaming TV services are growing dramatically.  It is expected that by 2020 Netflix will have 140 million individual users, Amazon Prime 96.5 million and Hulu 35.8 million.  All of these are paid. YouTube still leads overall with 198.7 million users projected by 2020.

The area of personal transportation is where there is a true move from ownership to rental.  The average American uses their car 4% of the time.  The remaining 96% of the time the owned car is just sitting, depreciating.  There are numerous car- sharing services such as Zipcar that allows members to use cars by the minute, hour or day, picking up and dropping off at ever more designated locations.  There are emerging platforms that are combining used car dealerships so that used cars can be rented on a monthly basis for $200.  A year’s rental of $2,400 is, in most cases, less than the annual depreciation of a new car.

Ever more cities have rental bikes, electric bikes and scooters that allow to pick up at one location and drop off at another.  This will move to small cars in many cities.

There are higher end concierge services where one can pay $800-1,000 per month and switch out cars as often as one wants.  One can leave a Mercedes at a valet car park, have dinner and come out to get the keys to a pick-up truck.  Even top tier car companies such as Mercedes, Cadillac and BMW that sell new cars, are experimenting with subscription models for new cars, with much less contractual restrictions as leasing.

Relative to the sharing economy, people can now rent out their own cars, creating a revenue stream for the 96% of the time they are not driving.  An Airbnb for cars.

The next step in driving down individual ownership of autos is the coming age of the autonomous – driverless- vehicles.  These will dramatically drive down both the number of cars on the road and the percentage of cars on the road that are owned by individuals.  I live is a development that has some 60 houses. This translates to approximately 150 people and the same number of vehicles.  In the coming age of autonomous vehicles this sized community could be served by perhaps 20-30 driverless cars, going 24 hours a day when not getting recharged at charging stations.  Think of always available driverless Uber cars.  In fact Uber and other ride share companies are actively developing the fleet concept of such vehicles.

In the developed world, research consistently shows that the Millennials, born 1981-1997, and Digital Natives, born since 1998 are much less materialistic and much more experiential than their parents’ generations.  They are the first generations to grow up with a developed sharing economy, where ownership seems odd and sharing and access makes a lot more sense. To these ascendant generations, ownership feels burdensome.  The ability to move freely without ownership of “stuff” seems much more prevalent than prior generations.  “Keeping up with the Jones” ownership model of post-WWII America is moving more toward bucket lists of experiences.

An entirely other dynamic that is driving this move to access is the growing understanding that the consumption economy is one of the causes of climate change.  Every time something is manufactured, some natural resource is used.  So, the sharing of things, the using of things to create revenue, the buying of used items rather than new all point to more of a circular economy than a pure growth economy.

Now, take a big step back and view this new access/rental/sharing economic model versus the older ownership model.  What one sees is a major disruption of one of the foundational structures of global economies – producing for mass ownership.  More people accessing fewer things produced.  More people desiring access than constant ownership. This is a huge structural change that will disrupt, distort economies and ultimately could drive GDP numbers globally to contract.

How to Crush Your Habits in the New Year With the Help of Science

It’s the shiniest time of year: that hopeful period when we imagine how remarkable — how fit and kind, how fiscally responsible — our future selves could be. And while you may think “new year, new you” is nothing more than a cringey, magazine-cover trope, research supports its legitimacy.

“It’s not like there’s something magical about Dec. 31,” explained Charles Duhigg, the author of “The Power of Habit.” “What is magical is our mind’s capacity to create new narratives for ourselves, and to look for events as an opportunity to change the narrative.”

One such opportunity? January. Since most of us consider it a fresh start, Mr. Duhigg said New Year’s resolutions can be “very, very powerful” — as long as they’re backed by science, patience and planning.

At the core of every resolution are habits: good ones, bad ones, stop-biting-your-nails ones. So if you want to change yourself, that’s where you need to start. Here are seven science-based strategies for making sure your new habits endure.

Imagine it’s the next New Year’s Eve. What change are you going to be most grateful you made?

Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and author of “The Willpower Instinct,” suggested asking yourself this question before making any resolutions. “It’s crazy to me how often people work from the opposite,” she said. “They pick some behavior they’ve heard is good for them, and then they try to force it on themselves and hope it will lead to greater health or happiness.”

Sounds familiar, right? To avoid that trap, Dr. McGonigal recommended reflecting on what changes would make you happiest, then picking a “theme” for your year. That way, even if a particular habit doesn’t stick, your overarching intention will.

Take the theme of reducing stress, for example. You might try meditating and hate it. But, since your goal wasn’t “meditate 10 minutes a day,” you don’t have to abandon the resolution completely. Maybe you try yoga next.

Electing a unifying theme will also stimulate your brain to look for additional opportunities to advance your goal, said Dr. McGonigal, whereas narrowing yourself to a single behavior will cause your brain to “shut off once you check it off the list.”

According to Mr. Duhigg, research shows that rather than “breaking” bad habits, you should attempt to transform them into better ones. To do so, you need to determine your habit’s trigger (cue) and reward, and then find a new behavior that satisfies both.

While Mr. Duhigg said cues usually fall into one of five categories — time, location, people, emotion or ritual — rewards are more difficult to ascertain. Do you always get an afternoon snack because you’re hungry? Because you’re bored? Or is it because you’re starved for office gossip? To determine an effective replacement habit, it’s vital to understand what reward you crave.

“Any habit can be diagnosed and shifted,” Mr. Duhigg said. “You need to give yourself time to really figure out the cues and rewards that are driving that behavior — and oftentimes the only way … is through a process of experimentation.”

You may have heard the key to habit formation is starting small. But you’ve likely never considered starting as small as James Clear suggests in his new book “Atomic Habits.”

His “two-minute rule” prescribes only completing the outset of any new habit. So if you want to read a book a month, you read a page a day. If you want to play the piano, you sit at the bench and open your songbook.

Although he admitted it might sound frivolous, Mr. Clear said mastering “the art of showing up” helps put a behavior on autopilot. He shared the story of one man who drove to the gym every day, then exercised for a few minutes before going home. By performing that seemingly futile action for six weeks, Mr. Clear said the man slowly became “the type of person who works out every day.”

For a habit to abide, it must have immediate rewards. But before you go buying a smoothie after every workout, note that, according to Dr. McGonigal, the most effective rewards are intrinsic, or the ones you feel, not the ones you procure.

So maybe, instead of that frozen strawberry-kale-hemp delight, you simply notice the renewed energy you have after lifting weights. Or the pride you feel when you don’t smoke cigarettes. Naming the payoff, she said, helps your brain build positive associations with the activity.

If you can’t find an intrinsic reward, it might not be the right habit. You shouldn’t, obviously, volunteer to build trails if you dislike being outside. If your goal is to give back to your community, volunteer with animals or at a homeless shelter instead. “Choose the form of the habit that brings you joy in the moment,” Mr. Clear added. “Because if it has some immediate satisfaction, you’ll be much more likely to repeat it in the future.”

We humans are weak. Which means environment design is our “best lever” for improving habits, according to Mr. Clear.

“The people who exhibit the most self-control are not actually those who have superhuman willpower,” he explained. “They’re the people who are tempted the least.” If you want to save more money, unfollow retailers’ social media accounts. If you want to watch less mindless television, unplug your TV. Dr. McGonigal also recommended displaying physical reminders of your goals — yes, that includes motivational Post-its.

Your environment encompasses the people around you, too. Mr. Clear suggested finding a group “where your desired behavior is the normal behavior,” and then forging friendships with its members (which will really get the habit to stick).

Despite your best intentions, chances are you’ll fail at some point along your new-year-new-you journey.

“The question isn’t ‘Are you going to be able to avoid that?’” said Mr. Duhigg. “The question is ‘What are you going to do next?’” If you have a recovery plan, or if you can learn from your failure, he said you’re “much more likely to succeed” in your goal.

So write down the obstacles you foresee and how you’ll surmount them. If you’re trying to drink less wine, for example, you should probably outline a plan for after your mother-in-law’s next visit.

Also effective, said Dr. McGonigal, is sharing your goals with other people, and then telling them how best to support you. By “outsourcing your willpower,” she explained, others can “hold your intention” for you, “even when you’re exhausted or you’re feeling really stressed out.”

Cake might only be for special occasions, but celebrations are for every day. Science says so.

“Celebration is one of the emotions that propel people further on the path of positive habits,” said Dr. McGonigal. Celebrating tells your brain a behavior is beneficial, and that it should look for more opportunities to engage in it.

The celebrations don’t have to be grand. If you finally study for your licensing exam, tell your co-worker. If you survive a tough workout, take a sweaty selfie. Dr. McGonigal said celebrations can actually change your memory of a particular experience, making it more positive than it was. “And that makes you more likely to choose to do it again in the future,” she added. Taking it a step further, you can send yourself a thank-you letter or FutureMe email expressing gratitude for your new habit.

That gratitude and that authentic pride, along with hope, social connection and compassion, are the most effective emotions for promoting long-lasting behavior change, according to Dr. McGonigal. The least effective are shame, guilt and fear.

So even if you stumble when forming your new habit — which research says you probably will — be kind to yourself. Although big, long-term change isn’t easy, it is possible. “Habits are not a finish line to be crossed,” said Mr. Clear. “They’re a lifestyle to be lived.”

by Susan Shain

773 Million Passwords Exposed – Were You Exposed?

Today Troy Hunt announced that a collection of 773 million usernames and passwords were released. This release of passwords, dubbed Collection #1, contains usernames and passwords that have shown up on the dark web over the past two or three years. Think of Collection #1 as being a value pack of bundled old password lists.

If you want to find out if your passwords were released, visit his site called If you elect to enter your email address, this will tell you if it is in the collection and give you more details.

What do you do if you are on the list? Reset your passwords. Use a password manager that will remember your passwords for you to make your life easier when you use a different password at each website from now on.

Now is a great time to enable two-step verification. A basic form of two-step verification is when you enter a username and password, and you receive a text message code to type in. Enable two-step verification on PayPal, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Facebook and every other web service you use. On each website, look for Settings > Security. You may need to dig down, but more reputable sites now support two-step verification, but you must enable the feature.

Some bad news is that, about a week ago, a tool called Modlishka shows how to break two-step verification so it isn’t that secure, but two-step verification is still more secure than a simple username password combination. If it allows, have a website use some other method than texting you a password. Using an app on your phone or calling you via a voice call are options that are often more secure than the text message. Microsoft, Google, and a service called Duo offer these options and more. Having a hardware key is even better unless your laptop users leave the key stored in the laptop case, and their password written on the bottom of the laptop.

Posted by Mike Foster