Do you need to be confident to be successful?

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Katie Kelly is a B2B Marketing Consultant with 15 years experience and founder of No Wanky Bollocks.

Thinking about the successful business people I know, and there’s a common theme in that they have a lot of confidence and are usually quite self-assured or at least that’s how they come across. Showing no weaknesses (or only those carefully selected).

Do you need to maintain this type of persona to be successful?  Is this just a trait of the business community? Are shy people with weaknesses screwed?

Love to hear some thoughts – post your points below.


  1. Above all else I would say successful people, irrespective of how confident or self-assured they may be (or appear to be to the outside world) have to have three things – humility, integrity and substance.

    In my experience, it’s often shy people who aren’t ones to step outside their comfort zone who have some the greatest levels of intelligence and big, bold ideas that they are just keeping within themselves.

    I know from personal experience that imposter syndrome can and does play a big part in how confident people come across to others.

    You’ve opened a can of arms with this discussion Katie!! I’m interested to hear other people’s thoughts

    • Thanks Paul – love the humility, integrity and substance point but is it enough to really break away from those running/doing good things to being *very* successful. Like Deborah said below I guess this discussion needs some definition on what “success” is. I think the way I was originally thinking was more like those who had commercial success, people who make loads of cash. Would our friend Richard Branson be as filthy rich if he didn’t put himself out there all time time? Can you think of anyone who’s as successful with a meek and quiet persona?

      • I know the thread is a little old but I found the topic rather interesting. First, to answer your question, here’s a list of successful introverts across history:

        That doesn’t mean to say that an introvert must be shy or lacking self-confidence but in my experience a quiet or a self-doubting person is probably an introvert. In fact, self-confidence and personality type are two separate things; one can lack self-confidence but work extra hard to prove to themselves they are good enough and be very successful to the world but not tin their own eyes. Others can ooze confidence and make every little thing they do seem like a huge thing when in reality it’s not.

        I’d like to think that you just have to be yourself and work towards your goal without worrying about what others would like you to be. That’s what most people who succeeded seemed to do anyway. But then again, I’ve not attained success yet so don’t take my word for it! ^^

  2. I’m one of the least confident people I know. Am I successful? I guess it depends on how you define success.

    I work for myself, have a lot of lovely clients, have flexible hours and pay my own way. I don’t however, have any desire to grow my business and take on staff.

    So, I guess I don’t think you need confidence to succeed. But in my case at least, success to me might not look like success to high achievers.

    • Thanks Deborah for commenting. Yes I agree – the argument comes down to how we define success. If success is classed as commercial, say running a business with a £5m+ turnover with a healthy profit would your answer change? I guess I see a lot of people online who have that type of commercial successes and from the outside I’d consider them confident people. I guess it could just be that those who aren’t confident are still running commercial successful businesses but they stay out of the limelight.

  3. Some people turn their ‘weakness’ and vulnerability into a huge part of their powerful heart based business in this age of authenticity. Jaane Robinson, Lana Shlafer and Melissa Ramos are huge names in coaching and nutrition right now, they leave it all out there for everyone to see and those who are attracted to their ‘no wanky bollocks’ style stay loyal and pay top dollar for their services. There is definitely confidence in doing this and they’re amazingly confident in what they bring to the world but they’re not afraid to be seen as real people with hang ups and issues the same as the rest of us.

  4. I’ve recently become more aware of the importance of confidence when it comes to developing careers and businesses. An acquaintance of mine is currently making very impressive headway in creating his own agency based on local search despite knowing very little about what hes doing and learning it along the way – the irritating thing is, its working!

    I would never have started my own business at his level of skill or experience but hes proving it can be done because he simply has complete confidence in himself and doesn’t talk himself out of things with a bunch of “what ifs”.

    This being said, we can agree there’s a line between confidence and arrogance, but I think that line changes position depending on who you ask…


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