The Most Inspirational People, according to Starbucks Youth Action survey in the UK

Launch of 2014 Starbucks Youth Action grant program in the UK includes results from Inspiration Index research

Who is the most inspirational figure for young people in the UK?

Bill Gates makes the list, as does Nelson Mandela, Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres. But the person those under the age of 25 the look up to the most is Olympic champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, according to new research.

The Inspiration Index report coincides with the launch of the 2014 Starbucks Youth Action grants which support young people in the UK who want to carry out projects benefitting their communities. The Index crowd-sourced nominations for inspirational figures from more than 1,000 16-24 year olds, rating them for inspirational qualities and leadership characteristics, such as: integrity, judgment and having a positive impact on society.

It features over 100 public figures from politics, business, sports and entertainment. Among the top 25 role models, more than a third (37%) are women. Ellen DeGeneres, Dame Judi Dench, JK Rowling, and Oprah all rank high.

The poll shows the characteristics most revered in a leader are hard work and being results-driven.

“Our future leaders see hard work, integrity and commitment as the most admirable characteristics in inspiring figures and it seems for millennials, actions speak louder than words. With half of our UK workforce aged under 25 years, we know this generation has a lot to offer,” said Simon Redfern, director of corporate affairs for Starbucks UK.

Now in its fourth year, Starbucks Youth Action has supported more than 260 youth-led projects in the UK and Ireland – from setting up a foundation to help children with long-term illnesses to introducing bee-hives to an inner-city park.

Boxing champ Patrick Diai, recipient of a Starbucks Youth Action grant, created Fit2Box. The non-contact boxing fitness encourages kids to “exercise and try their best, instead of sitting back watching TV or playing video games.”

“I have encountered many young people who have been told in the past they are no good at sports or that they are too slow or too fat. As a result they avoid all sporting activities and exercise to save ridicule and embarrassment,” Diai said. “I have seen a big difference in attitude and performance among the young people who’ve been involved with Fit2Box.”

Starbucks Youth Action is looking forward to working with 10,000 young people who will directly benefit from this year’s program.

“The success of Starbucks Youth Action projects demonstrates that young people can make a vital contribution to society and gain valuable leadership skills,” said Charlotte Hill, chief executive of UK Youth - a partner in Starbucks Youth Action. “They learn how to pitch their ideas, manage a project and handle a budget while they turn their ideas into reality. We’re incredibly proud of the young people and projects we’ve supported so far, and looking forward to seeing this year’s applicants achieve their aim. ”

Inspiration Index Research was conducted by Edelman Berland


1,013 people aged 16-24 interviewed online in February 2014. Results are nationally representative. Qualitative research asked 150 people to nominate up to two inspirational people from a number of categories from politics to entertainment, yielding 321 unique names.

Quantitative research asked people to score a random selection of nominations against 19 attributes of inspiration.

The attributes have been grouped into three categories (Business Savvy, Social Conscience & Collaborative Communication) and then combined to form an Index for each nomination.

Nominations which reached a minimum number of responses have been included giving a final list of 175 nominations.

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