The Forbes 400: What it takes to join the billionaires' club

Did you know that 14 percent of the self-made billionaires on the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest people in the US didn't graduate from college? How about the fact that an unusually high percentage of them were born in the fall? Would you be surprised to learn that many of them are good at math, or that a large number worked for Goldman Sachs?

It's hard to resist the urge to reverse-engineer success, which helps to explain why Forbes' 400 list is so fascinating to people. After all, in a few short pages, readers can compare the lifestyles -- and birth-styles and childhood-styles -- of the rich and famous. With a little bit of patience and a big dose of armchair psychology, it might even be possible to create a checklist of key points that an ambitious young tyro can work through on his or her (more likely his) way to the top. At least, that seems to be the point of a recent article in which writer Duncan Greenberg analyzed the Forbes list.