Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett, one of the most successful investors of all time, is worth an estimated $84.9 billion. And the 88-year-old is the first to admit that he wouldn't be where he is today without a bit of luck.
"The womb from which you emerge determines your fate to an enormous degree for most of the seven billion people in the world," Buffett told journalist Rebecca Jarvis in 2013. "Just in my own case: I was born in 1930, I had two sisters that have every bit the intelligence that I had, have every bit the drive, but they didn't have the same opportunities."
In short, "if I had been a female, my life would have been entirely different."
Buffett had made a similar point before. As he said at Berkshire Hathaway's Annual Shareholders Meeting in 1997, he knew he had won what he called the "ovarian lottery."
"You don't know whether you're going to be born black or white. You don't know whether you're going to be born male or female," he explained. "You don't know whether you're going to be born infirm or able-bodied. You don't know whether you're going to be born in the United States or Afghanistan."
The ovarian lottery is "the most important event in which you'll ever participate," Buffett continued. "It's going to determine way more than what school you go to, how hard you work, all kinds of things."
Research backs his claim that the circumstances you're born into strongly affect your success. Being born rich is far more helpful in life than being born gifted, the Washington Post reports: "Economists found genetic endowments are distributed almost equally among children in low-income and high-income families. Success is not."
For example, "the least-gifted children of high-income parents graduate from college at higher rates than the most-gifted children of low-income parents."