'Their curiosity is untarnished by prejudice or fear' - What Inspires Me with Manifest's Julian Obubo

Manifest's brand strategy director reveals what makes his creativity soar.

The Atlantic

Anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes with me will probably tell you about my evangelical love of American magazine The Atlantic. Whenever I speak to PR students or new starters, I preach to them about The Atlantic. It’s a source of the best cultural and political commentary (although with a heavy US bias). Its pieces are always well written, deeply researched and usually shed light on questions about the human condition that I’ve been asking myself. Importantly, it provides me with the contextual information on science, technology and popular culture that I can then bring into developing creative strategies for current and prospective clients.

Dear Sugars Podcast

Although the podcast stopped production in 2018, it’s still regularly "updated" with reruns of old episodes. Dear Sugars is on the surface level an advice column in audio form. But of course, it’s much more than that. Hosted by Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond (the two wisest people I know) Dear Sugars grapples with difficult questions in listeners’ lives by offering advice rooted in love, compassion, and non-judgment. Listening to them always reminds me to approach life with empathy and with the belief that most people are trying to do good (yes, even journalists who hang up on you). I think the comms industry can sometimes be a ruthless beast so I always take time to remind myself that people are going through lots of things in their lives that will remain hidden, so as Harry Styles says, it’s best to always treat people with kindness.

Cooking

Every month I try to find a new spice or ingredient that I’ve never cooked with before. It’s easy to get stuck doing what you know best, without any experimentation or adventure. I realised I was getting into a pattern with my cooking of always playing it safe, so one day I just went to the spice aisle and picked up spices and herbs that were unfamiliar to me. I ended up doing a little bit of research on them when I got home and just freestyling dishes. The results were amazing! I don’t approach cooking like an exact science; I think you’re just supposed to feel your way around until it feels right to you. Throw in some cumin even if the recipe does not call for it, see how some sumac might enhance the richness of the sauce, swap oregano or marjoram and see if you like it. The way one cooks is a great tell into their approach to life and work.

Babies

I find babies utterly fascinating. It’s so wonderful to almost see how their minds are processing new stimuli. They have a curiosity that is untarnished by prejudice or fear. If it looks edible, it goes in their mouth. If they can hold it, then they must throw it. If it’s white, it’s liable to be soiled. I marvel at how free they are, and how they remind me (and adults) of the responsibility we have to them and to a better society. Everything we do for babies is intentional, it has to be because they are incapable of helping themselves. Every spoonful of food has a purpose. As parents, we soon become experts in the nutritional benefits of certain foods because of the responsibility to build a human fit in body and mind. Babies keep me inspired, they are a reminder that working to develop ourselves and others is an ongoing process.

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