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2020 Summit Special: An Honest Account of Success and Failure with Jim Bowes

For this instalment of our look back to our 2020 Summit, we have a lighter tone; Jim Bowes brought a smile to our faces in the fantastic sunny September, and we hope you can enjoy it in some socially distanced sunshine this weekend. 

Jim Bowes is CEO of Manifesto, an experience and technology company for change and positive impact, as well as a former standup. He shakes the dust off his Edinburgh Fringe side deck from 15 years ago (still in original 4:3) to reexamine the “pastiche of motivational speakers that speak at business conferences.” For a fun take on personal growth with “An Honest Account of Success and Failure”. 

In this episode

  • Decline 
  • Confidence 
  • Shame or Success 


At the original point of writing his presentation, Jim had been struck by the sudden realisation that he was “a man in decline’”. In a whirlwind of 00’s nostalgia, he re-examines with the audience, his thought process. Following his then-recent device, Jim was staying at his mum’s, and having been compared to decreasingly attractive celebrities, he was forced to do some soul searching. He decided that many things were to blame… mainly crisps. 


Looking at his bags of belongings, he decided he heeded to re-find his confidence.“So that I could achieve the things I wanted to achieve- confidence is a feeling of assurance, particularly self-assurance. It means that you can do things that you otherwise might not. We are here today, in a way, to get extra confidence.” But Jim decided that to ‘scale his life up, fast’ he wasn’t going to need extra confidence but “blind confidence”. 

Following a few literal car-crashes “in this period of experimenting with blind confidence”, he decided there might be something to it. The common features of blind confidence, Jim declares are “Little knowledge”, “Decisions” and “Thought” he refers to The Dice Man by George Cockcroft in a string of life decisions he put to a toss of a coin. 

Shame or Success 

“I’m the kinda guy who likes to say yes. I got married at 19, and at 27, I remortgaged my house to open a vintage clothing shop and many other things”. This brought Jim to a rather disastrous role on a rather extreme military-based reality TV programme. A mortifying mess caught on camera. Which he asserts, drew him to the conclusion that to build confidence you need to build a tolerance to shame. “You need to build your shame confidence in the open as you confess to it”, jokes Jim as he examines old webchat confessions with the audience. Blind confidence puts you in situations where you are guaranteed either shame or success “if you learn to accept shame, then you’ll be successful”. 

Jim concludes that “Little knowledge + Decisions ÷ thought = blind confidence. The output of which is shame OR success”.

Recommended reading 
The Dice Man by George Cockcroft

This episode is also available as a video on our Youtube

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