Quiet and peaceful Valley Forge-Pa. is not a place where one would expect to find one of the most successful financial businesses in history — a far cry from the hurry and shuffle of Wall Street. But Vanguard's home there speaks volumes about its ability to maintain its reputation as the lowest-cost provider of mutual funds and ETFs since John Bogle founded the company in 1974, operating on a low-cost basis in a financial world motivated and dominated by profit.

There, 84-year-old Bogle sits signing hundreds of copies of his new book: The Man in the Arena, which just hit bookshelves on Dec. 4, his office desk completely covered with a mounting pile of papers, portraits and pictures of his family on every wall, still energized by the purpose of his work. Be careful not to put down a glass of water on any magazine resting on the coffee table — it's probably a collector's item.

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