Have you ever read a biography of a famous person in which the individual's success is ascribed to sheer dumb luck? If you have, you are not alone. Most likely not. Instead, when it comes to success tales, we like to believe that the individuals in question have achieved their position by their own abilities and hard work. This is the myth of the "self-made man," and these notes will demonstrate that it is based on sand rather than rock. You'll see how many invisible variables affect a person's success, and how many of those factors are outside the control of the individual in question. You will discover why Bill Gates and The Beatles were so successful; why your birthdate may have ruined your chances of being an ice hockey great; and what rice farming has to do with arithmetic abilities in these notes.