Britain's most fascinating person: what can we learn?


Clare Balding

Tatler magazine has revealed its list of Britain's 'most fascinating' people. It has a 'Tatler List' of notable figures, and every year it reveals who has been most searched for on this list. There's an unexpected winner this year - Clare Balding - who pipped Pippa Middleton to the post, and pushed Roman Abramovich into third place.

So what makes someone 'most fascinating'? And what can we learn from their example?

The list is not officially out until Tatler's March edition, but a sneak preview has been offered by the Telegraph.


It revealed that Clare Balding was the most searched-for individual. She has had a huge year, as one of the most high-profile faces of the London 2012 Olympic coverage. She has now gone on to host her own Saturday night TV programme, and release an autobiography. Her partner, former BBC radio 4 newsreader, Alice Arnold was in 14th place.

The question is why she was most-searched-for, what the other members of the list did to pique people's interest, and what we can learn from them if we want to get on more effectively at work?

Be good at what you do

Balding is a real rarity in lists like this because she has gained attention by being good at what she does. She has not hit the mainstream of presenting up until now, and surprised many by being exceptionally good. Of course the fact that her autobiography revealed a colourful personality with an interesting childhood helped build interest, as does the fact that she is one of very few high-profile gay female presenters.

She shows us that you don't have to specifically fit any mould at work. If you are good at what you do, and don't hide your light under a bushel, you will draw the attention of those who are in a position to promote you.

Build a brand

Second on the list is Pippa Middleton. She is more typical of this sort of list, as she's young, pretty and well-connected, which is the sort of thing you care about if you read Tatler.

However, she is a great example of how you can build a brand at work. She has a reputation for being a sought-after socialite, and she has capitalised on that by writing a book on party planning, and a blog for her parents' party planning website.

She shows us that if we have a talent for something we need to think about how we can capitalise on it. If you're 'the person who knows about' something at work, then get yourself invited to meetings, build your reputation, and soon you'll start to be considered for the interesting new projects at work.

The next couple of positions are taken by the obscenely wealthy, which is another Tatler specialty, with Roman Abramovich third and The Queen Fourth. This is only to be expected of the most high profile wealthy people in the country and can tell us very little about how to get on - other than once you have made it, you'll find success clings to you and breeds more success.

Take a challenge

Fifth place is Benedict Cumberbatch, who reveals how fascinating we find people who are not afraid of a challenge. He has taken on an extraordinary range of roles, and could easily have settled into being one of the country's most well-loved Sherlock Holmes actors. However, he then made the bold choice to play Julian Assange - which is unlikely to win him a huge number of admirers. We should all be asking ourselves whether we are equally bold at work. Do we take on a challenge? Do we push ourselves? And why not?

Bounce back

Joint sixth place is held by Robin Burley (a Tatler classic in that he's a high profile well-connected London entrepreneur, best-known for revamping Royal favourite Annabels) and Prince Harry.

Burley is a classic example of the importance of who you know. While we can't all be hobnobbing with royalty - and many people wouldn't want to - it goes to show how essential a network is if you want to get on at work.

Harry meanwhile is a great example of how one stupid mistake at work doesn't have to destroy everything. Harry has had plenty of ups and downs, and his Las Vegas embarrassment was just one in a long series that we have come to associate with Harry.

However, he doesn't let it stop him. He picks himself up, dusts himself off, and goes back to work. And while many people would ideally not emulate his style, we can all learn something from the way in which he recovers from scandal and keeps ploughing on.

But what do you think? Does this list surprise you, and would you want to emulate anything on this list? let us know in the comments.