Founder, executive chairman, Dimensional Fund Advisors
After David Booth, 70, co-founder and executive chairman of Dimensional Fund Advisors, earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Kansas, he planned to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago graduate school of business and become a professor.
Instead, his professors "created a monster and filled me with a lot of great ideas," he said.
Those ideas changed Mr. Booth's life radically — inspiring him to pursue exciting, new investing concepts — and he never forgot it. With profound gratitude, some 37 years later he donated $300 million to the school that now bears his name.
Foregoing the Ph.D., Mr. Booth graduated with an MBA in 1971. A decade later, he and partner Rex Sinquefield founded Dimensional, introducing products similar to index funds but employing such avant-garde notions as relying on academic research, allowing discretion in execution, treating small-cap stocks as a separate asset class and comingling funds instead of allowing for separate portfolios.
"I never started out to be an entrepreneur," he said. "But they were such powerful ideas that I couldn't not do it."
On the personal side, Mr. Booth is enjoying life as a gentleman farmer and boating enthusiast on Lake Austin in Texas.
Other interests include collecting art and serving on the board of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which he says is "very cool."
Mr. Booth projects a relaxed demeanor, and with good reason.
"At my age, either you're relaxed or you're dead," he said with a laugh. "I preach to my employees: ‘You're in this for the long haul, so make sure you seek that balance.'"
– Deborah Nason