Buckle up for an engaging conversation with the Managing Director for Career Education & Coaching at one of the top business schools in the U.S., the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. Daniel Liu is a former Deloitte consultant who is utilizing his consulting skillset to help students transition into their dream careers in consulting, tech, and beyond.
In the lively discussion, we cover career strategies (4:53), how to know if an MBA is right for you (7:20), how to get the most out of an MBA program (10:21), how his Deloitte experience informs his work as a career strategist (14:41), case interview and consulting recruiting tips (17:41), and what makes McCombs a great choice for getting a business degree (22:05).
Learn more about Texas McCombs here.
Resources Daniel Mentioned:
- Switchers by Dawn Graham
- Unleashed by Francis Frei & Anne Morriss
- MBAInsider community
- Invisible College
- Odyssey DAO
- Means of Creation podcast
- Prepare your resume, personal statement, and other essays for MBA applications
- Join our email list
- Consulting firm directory
- Submit a question for the team to answer
Welcome to today’s episode of Strategy Simplified, I’m so thrilled to have Daniel Liu with us. Daniel is the Managing Director of Career Education & Coaching for full time programs at UT McCombs. He’s been a longtime partner, a friend, and a career expert. And I’m really, really excited to pick his brain today on how to break into consulting, how to think long term about your career, especially if you are thinking about going to pursue an MBA. And so we’re going to dive into a fast paced, fun conversation today with Daniel. Daniel, thanks so much for joining us today.
Absolutely. Namaan. It’s a huge pleasure to be here. Thanks for the invitation to join the Strategy Simplified podcast.
Absolutely. Well, let’s start here. For those listeners who may not know you, can you just share a quick overview of your background?
Sure. from a professional standpoint, I’ve spent the past seven years working in university career services. And prior to that, almost six years in management consulting. So if I think back in undergrad, I majored in Engineering Management Science, mathematics, with a minor in Computer Science at SMU in Dallas.
Then, I completed a master’s in engineering management and my major was highly attractive to management consulting. And I was fortunate enough to launch my career at Deloitte, where the majority of my work was focused in the public sector, helping state government agencies with large scale complex business transformation. And one interesting fact for your listeners, I never got on a plane for work.
I can’t believe that.
Yeah, I had the opportunity to switch offices from Dallas to Austin. It was a bit vague. But after some conversations, it was pretty clear. There was this pipeline of client work in Austin, and I would either be living in Dallas and hopping on flights to Austin, or get the opportunity to plant some roots and live and work in the same city, which if you think about that decision, now over a decade later, still living in Austin, and really grateful that I made that choice.
You really got the best of both worlds. You never had to get on a plane, but getting to work at Deloitte. That’s incredible.
There are trade offs.
There are trade offs. So I guess there’s no lifetime Marriott platinum status, there’s no Delta diamond for life. But you’ve got to be home every night. So I want to ask you about one thing you mentioned. You said you graduated with a degree in engineering management. And you and I both know, that’s an attractive degree and background for consulting firms. But we hear from dozens of engineers every week who say do I have a good profile for consulting. Can you just break down for me why consulting firms like folks with engineering backgrounds?
Sure, I think it comes down to two specific qualities that you get a chance to sort of polish as a student in an engineering program. You have this high rigor of the ability to learn and absorb information, whether it’s in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, or even some of the biomechanical engineering, right? What do you have, if you can pass Ochem then you have these technical chops, if you will, to be able to learn anything, and absorb information. I think that’s a really critical skill, especially early in your career as a consultant.
The other one is, I think, just traditionally, engineering also has a foundation of mathematics. And that math is driven by logic. And so much of business decision making is logical, right? It’s about being this voice for your client and thinking about a problem to be able to step beyond the focus or the pain point and ask the questions of logically, how can we think about different frameworks and algorithms, if you will, to uniquely solve our client’s problem?
And so again, I think those are some skills that you really get to hone throughout your academic journey in an engineering program, and I think it really helps set up. If you’re able to also bring the soft skill communication piece then you’re really sort of a double threat when it comes to MBA.
Absolutely, absolutely. Now you’re working with students helping them to break into tech, consulting, and other fields. Can you talk to us about the work that you do at McCombs and how you help folks from diverse backgrounds develop these long term career strategies.
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So I have a slightly unique role in business school career services. As you mentioned my title, I’m in a managing director role overseeing career strategy across three separate coaching teams that provide support to our undergraduate BBAs, our specialty master graduate students and our full time MBA students. And my charge is really thinking about how is career education and higher education being accelerated and transformed, especially through this pandemic.
Higher education is clearly not immune to the impact of what’s happening in the marketplace. And, ultimately, I’m just really grateful and lucky to have this opportunity to lead our team of directors and amazing career coaches to really do two things. One is to foster agility and analytical capabilities that then enable us to prepare students to strategically meet this constantly changing landscape that we call the future of work.
So you and I have different vantage points on higher ed. You work in higher ed, I work closely with partners in higher ed. And I think higher ed is one of the industries that is most ripe for disruption in the business world today. Do you agree, and if so, how do you see that disruption taking place over the next decade?
Yeah, I think every industry has been disrupted. And I would agree that there’s a lot of disruption here. There’s a lot of different angles we could take this conversation. I would offer this. The opportunity is there, which means there’s one of two things that can happen, right. Either an institution is been preparing for it, right? And so they’re facing the acceleration of disruption, and a very, you know, coming from a way of strength, right.
Or you’re a university that is caught in the midst of figuring out what’s going on, and you’re trying to scramble to bring resources to bear to be able to resolve and solve these. Or you’re in a place where you’re sayin these are disruptions, and we choose not to focus on those areas. And maybe we focus on other areas. And so again, I think it just really depends, but I do think that as students continue to navigate both the undergraduate and also the graduate, higher education market, it’s going to continue to look different.
Absolutely. So it’s an exciting time to be a leader in higher ed like you are. It’s also an exciting time to go back to school and pursue an MBA or other advanced degree. You have these conversations all the time. And we get asked these questions hundreds of times a month. How do I know if an MBA is right for me? If I want to break into consulting, do I need an MBA? Do you have a framework that you recommend for folks who are considering an MBA or other advanced degree program? How do we figure out if that’s the right and next career move for us?
Yeah, there’s certainly plenty of podcasts and other resources right around from like an MBA admissions lens, right of whether an MBA is right for you. And I think my point of view is biased, having coached hundreds of MBAs on their career strategy. Clearly, there’s there’s some value there. I think in terms of framework, my favorite is probably Dawn Graham’s book Switchers. So Dawn Graham has worked in University Career Services for quite some time. Her book is amazing, because it’s focused on helping you get unstuck, rebrand yourself and land a new career. And it’s not specific to MBAs.
But there’s this framework, you have a two by two for thinking about the degree of difficulty to make a switch. And so if you think about these quadrants, the first quadrant is the career enhancer. You’re looking to really advance your career in the same industry and same function. That’s really easy. There’s no switch there. But then as you go around the quadrants, the next one, which is slightly easy, but still a little bit of a challenge is how do you switch industry. So you’re staying in the same function, but you’re changing your industry. Next is a lot harder to change actually your function and stay in the same industry, right? So let’s say you’re working in retail and marketing, to move over to finance. Finance is going to be more challenging.
But if you’re going from one marketing and retail to marketing and tech, there’s a lot of easy transferable functional skills you can bring with you. The most difficult of course, it’s going to be making that double change. Right, so a double switch. And we talked about this with our students. If you’re looking to make a double switch, you really have to think thoughtfully about what are the skills, both hard and soft that you’re bringing into an application process? How do you showcase and feature those skills in a networking or in an interview setting?
And so again, I think this framework is so valuable. If you’re thinking about an MBA, business school continues to be this great accelerator of these changes. You can come to business school and make a double switch perhaps easier than if you were to do it without a business school.
And there’s a lot of reasons why I think mostly it ties around two year, full-time MBA programs offer internships and experiential learning opportunities that really allowed you to have the skills that make these almost micro steps that lead you to the bigger switcher step that you’re trying to make.
Anyone who breaks problems down with a two by two matrix is someone who is near and dear to my heart. So we will definitely link to Dawn’s book in the show notes and I’d encourage you to check that out. So you started to talk about, okay, an MBA gives you this experiential education. It gives you the opportunity for an internship, if you’re going to pursue a two year full time program. Are there things that folks can do to to prepare to succeed in an MBA program? Let’s say I read Dawn’s book, I listened to you today and I decide, You know what, yes, an MBA is right for me. What can I do today? It’s early May. And I’m starting school anywhere from three to 15 months from now, what can I do to make sure that my time in the MBA program will be most effective?
A great question. And this is a perfect time of year to really be thinking about this, if you are admitted to an MBA program and still deciding if you’re gonna go to one, or which one you’re gonna go to, or especially if you’re in the process of beginning your applications for fall applications. I would say don’t wait until you get to school to start your career exploration. I think that’s obvious one, right. In undergrad, if you had a positive career, exploration experience in undergrad, you had roughly four years to test and try different things.
While the MBA experience is, I think the best word is it’s highly optimized and it benefits students who come in with some focus and direction. And even just knowing what geography you want to be in career-wise is a good filter, right? It’s a baseline if you don’t know what specific industry or focus yet.
And so again, going back to “Switchers“, right, are you making a one or two skip stepping stone move? And I think at Texas McCombs, we recognize that you’re gonna get so much information that you have to absorb in your first few weeks. And we have this very rigorous fall semester. And so we actually, with the students that just been recently admitted and accepted our program, we’re already beginning that career preparedness journey with them. And we start that pre program in the summer. Again, there’s a lot of summer activity, especially in consulting.
So we prepare our students for that. And again, as they get into everything, you know, it never slows down. Right. So again, I think the best thing you can do right now is don’t wait, start something, whether it’s an informational interview conversation to better understand an industry you know nothing about, or it’s simply connecting with someone so that you have them as a relationship, as a resource for you, when you get to that point where you start having questions.
That’s really good. And you have a unique perspective on this because you led the GSAP initiative at Deloitte Austin office when you were there. Can you talk to us about what that is? And how that experience informed your own decision to, I won’t give it away, either pursue or not pursue an MBA?
Yeah, that’s a great question. Yeah, so the GSAP at Deloitte specifically, there’s a Graduate Student Assistance Program, and most consulting firms offer some type of initiative like this. It’s a great way for you to, you know, you’re kind of mid-career and you’re looking to enhance and grow skills. And at Deloitte, that was something that was highly valued, they cared about our professional development a lot. And so they give students this opportunity to apply. And if you get accepted, then you leave Deloitte, you go and do your MBA, or I think now it’s offered open to other graduate degrees.
And then you come back and you come back in a new level, there’s growth, there’s again, I think a lot of value in getting the MBA covered on sponsor. I think that the thing for me was, as I dove into that, because that seemed like the right thing to do, to help both myself and my peers think about professional development. So I was coaching already in that capacity. What I quickly realized was, while there were a lot of reasons to go to business school, they didn’t really quite resonate with me, and where I was enjoying the type of work I was doing, I was getting to do a good balance between technical and functional work.
Even though I was a technology consultant at Deloitte, I was actually working a lot in strategy and human capital. And so when it came down to it, I realized, wow, I really want to help my peers be successful, and all the different steps it takes to prepare for business school. And so I really enjoyed and kind of cherish more of like sort of a student org leader role, in helping my peers be successful.
And then in hindsight, you know, I think about sort of the opportunities that I was able to have in the midst of making the choice not to leave. And I think a critical one is something that couldn’t have really been planned for. But I had the opportunity to work on some initiatives around Obamacare when that was being implemented. And again, if I had chosen the business school route, I would have been leaving and wouldn’t have had some of those opportunities, one of which led me to get the chance to work very closely with the CEO of Deloitte.
For the record, I think he made the right decision. And so you just mentioned you had broad industry and functional exposure at Deloitte, and you were there for six years. How does your experience at Deloitte inform the work you’re doing now with your students and just as a Career Strategist more broadly?
Yeah, I wholeheartedly believe the reason I’m in my current role is because of the unique experiences that I have from Deloitte, for example, Deloitte created this great environment for coaching and mentoring others, which then directly translates and relates to the work that I did as a career coach. And as I kind of mentioned, and when I was a technology consultant, I worked on climate engagements, where I really had to wear different hats that ranged from strategy to technology to human capital.
And every day, in my role as a leader, as a business leader, in higher education, I draw from that variety of skills and experiences that I gained over those years. You know, I mentioned this opportunity to work close to the CFO, that was my first time working on a virtual team. That was back in 2012-13, I think.
Before it was cool.
Yeah, before it’s cool, and I got to, the pain points of that, and that the ways that you work synchronously and asynchronously, you know, I was able to bring that, you know, as we thought about reimagining the workplace, and what does hybrid and flux work look like. And again, most of my work at Deloitte was with state government agencies which again, higher education, public universities, a lot of the type of problem solving looks very different as an industry.
And so in many ways, I feel like, because I had the exposure, and I had the experience of building relationships with people in this industry, in some ways, you could almost argue that I made a single switch, although it was more than a single switch, but I kind of kept the industry sort of the same. So hopefully, that kind of answers a little bit of that. I think there’s also a piece around core skills, right, that have really benefited me, and so I’ll kind of touch on that a little bit.
I think the core skills that hopefully you hear about both on this podcast and elsewhere is that there’s always some amount of technical expertise. But there’s this key set of softer skills around communication, storytelling and relationship building, that any business professional can benefit from. So even if you don’t want to stay in consulting long term, you know that if you gain these skills, you’re going to be set up for success, no matter where you go.
I wholeheartedly agree. Being a consultant is all about having the ability to influence without any formal authority. And it’s not often the best solution that wins out as the best story. And I think we see that outside of consulting as well.
Let’s transition a little bit and get to what I know a lot of our listeners really care about. So you were at Deloitte for many, many years. You are now Managing Director of Career Education & Coaching at a top US business school, so you have great perspective on this. You work with hundreds of students each year who land consulting offers. And everyone wants to know, how do I navigate consulting recruiting? How do I ace the case interview? Do you have some case or consulting prep advice that you share with your students that you’d be willing to share with our listeners?
Absolutely. I’ll go big picture and then more tactical. I think from a big picture standpoint, always be curious is probably the biggest piece of advice I can give. Right? If you’re not constantly curious, consulting, you know, you can still make a great career in consulting, but you might be a little drained, right? Because there’s this need and drive to constantly be thinking about, not just your client’s problems, but the problems of anything.
And so again, you know, one thing I say is, as you go through whether it’s if you’re already in business school, and you’re taking different classes that are exposing you to functions and roles that you’ve never thought of before, or industries that you never thought of before, are you really curious about the problems they have?
I think a great question right now to ask is, we think a lot about the problems that COVID-19 has surfaced. Supply chain is a great one. Are you curious about why supply chain is broken? And so I think that always being curious piece really helps you think about and just grow, right? So a constant growth mindset about thinking about things really is going to enable you to be successful. I would say more tactically, I think back to the cases I’ve given the two most resounding pieces of advice.
One is around, do you know what problem or question you’re trying to solve for? What is the prompt, and make sure you write it down? So you’re using the landscape mode of writing, you know, kind of drawing two lines, right, one left side to create a column and the top.
Oftentimes, I just still find myself reminding students who are early in their career preparation, case preparation, make sure you know what prompt you’re solving for, and make sure you have the whole prompt. Because if you don’t have that, then it doesn’t really matter. And that actually is not just about the case interview, that’s actually for any kind of business problem that you solve for in real life. And so I love that as a proxy for the real experience is if you don’t actually know the motivation of your client, for example, perhaps even the problem that’s unstated. I think that’s it’s a skill set that gets demonstrated very quickly in the interview process.
The second one I would say is assumptions. I think the ability to make assumptions is really critical in a case interview process. And the advice I kind of tactically give is make sure you write your assumptions down. Because the benefit is I actually have had a student who followed this advice. And they went down a rabbit hole in an interview.
The interview was designed to be quite ambiguous and test a little bit of that ability, are you comfortable dealing with this ambiguity. And what they were able to come to was a conclusion that they quickly realized, wow, this is not the right answer. And because they wrote these assumptions down, they could quickly flip back some pages, find the assumption and say, Well, I know I made this assumption earlier, based on the findings, now I’m gonna adjust my assumption, to give me a quick moment, I’m gonna readjust my numbers.
And their ability to do that, actually, I think is what helped them secure the offer, because they were able to have again, this logical, very clear thought process. It helped them also stay grounded. So when they realize, oh, wow, this is not the right answer, my gut check was wrong, they were able to quickly go back and figure out exactly the paper trail of what was going on.
So both of those are fantastic tips. I love that because they’re not the generic case tips that you would maybe expect to hear, that everyone shares, and especially the first one, around understanding the problem that you’re solving, I think is critical, because oftentimes, we have candidates, we have students we work with that think they’re bad problem solvers, or they’re bad at math. And I’m like, No, you’re just bad at listening.
You can’t be a great problem solver if you don’t know the problem, you’re solving for it. You can’t be great at math if you don’t know the problem you’re solving. And so I think that is an absolutely critical piece of advice and one that I feel like we don’t hear enough. So thanks for sharing.
Daniel, I know you’re a humble guy. But I’m going to ask you to take the hat of humility off for a second. So you’ve been talking about how you prepare your students to land these consulting offers and just transition their careers into their dream career. That’s the reason they came to business school. So our listeners, why should they want to attend McCombs versus other top business schools they might be considering?
Yeah, well, you know, again, it’s easy to brag on the team. So I will happily brag on the team. It’s an expansive team. You know, I think there’s a few key primary value ads for McCombs, and I would frame them in terms of the program experience, which slightly ties to the second one, which is the size of our program. And then lastly, our location.
I’ll start with location, right? It’s Austin, Texas and it’s an incredible place. It’s a vibrant, fast growing city that’s pretty much number one on every city, best city of whatever chart these days, right. And of course, the latest is Elon Musk recently just opened the Tesla gigafactory. And of course, the question is now you know, is Twitter gonna move to Austin too?
But clearly, location affords our MBA students a lot of co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities that just wouldn’t be as available in cities that don’t have this degree of breadth and depth. I think there’s a local entrepreneur by the name of Whurley. And he says his best, right when you look geographically across the United States, and truly, even to some degree globally, but specifically in the US, there’s no major city, that within, you know, a day’s worth of travel, right. So basically, can you do a road trip to business meetings between Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston, we have this incredible sort of trifecta that allows for us to have this incredible spread across every industry.
And so whether it’s healthcare, whether it’s government, cybersecurity, military, you can find that business culture within arm’s reach. And again, I think that that’s going to continue to showcase itself. It’s already kind of proven through the pandemic to be a resilient marketplace for jobs. And I think that’s going to continue. So again, location is huge, right? It’s a fun place to live. So, again, I think a lot of students come here really planting and digging roots in.
The program size is one I’ll touch on as well. If you think about the size of our program, from a top 20 standpoint, we have this really kind of perfect balance. You know, you’ve got enough students where, you know, if you went to a large undergrad university, you kind of got lost in the mix. You’re going to find an experience where you get to know every single one of your classmates by graduation. And I think that’s something that’s really valuable when you think about networking.
You know, some of the larger programs, you might know your cohort or your section really well. But again, you here you get to really know the entire class and then you get to have, cohorts and we have the study teams where you get to kind of build deeper and richer connections throughout your program experience. Speaking about the programs grants, I think there’s, you know, again, there’s a student affairs Student Life side that I think is really vibrant here. And in co-curricular activities, micro consulting projects, other ways, again for you that kind of work. And we’ve kind of talked about this test kitchen, right, this ability for you to explore and try things. And I think that not much of that is necessarily actually career specific. It’s about your whole self.
And, again, who you want to become, in this again, if we want to use the metaphor of this business accelerator. And then, of course, lastly, and perhaps most importantly for our listeners is the career piece. I truly believe we have one of the top Career Services teams, right, one of the top career management teams in the world. You know, we were featured in Poets and Quants a few years back, and again, I think the reasons why is we have some of the highest touch points with our students across all our of our top program peers. And we have an incredibly robust and rich employer ecosystem.
So especially if you’re targeting consulting, technology, investment banking, you name it, you know, we’ve got those opportunities. I think what’s also valuable is as we’ve seen continued interest in other areas like healthcare, sustainability, impact, Private Equity, and venture capital certainly has grown quite a lot here in Austin, I think we have a program that has a size and a team that has the agility to learn and prepare our students for whatever that might be.
Just to give a very tactical example, I remember a few years ago, when Amazon really kind of became one of the top employers for MBA students, a lot of very confusing job titles, from product management, to program management, to technical program management to a non-technical, technical program manager role. My team really took the initiative to work with alumni to listen, and they actually can give some of the best mock interviews to prepare students.
And so again, I think we have this robust and rich and alumni ecosystem that also supports our current team, with the type of insights. We have partnerships with our employers, to, again, bring insights into what are the skills needed in the marketplace. And again, I think all around means again, it can’t happen without great people. And so the staff, the team, really, I think, make the experience and again, I can’t think of a heart of it all, it’s all staff are working extremely hard, right through the pandemic. But again, I would say huge, huge kudos to my team.
Daniel, I can vouch for your team as well, having worked with you and your team, for gosh, I think it’s been four years now, I can vouch for the quality of the team and the care that they have, the genuine care that they have for your students. It’s unparalleled. And I said that from working with over 70 different institutions around the world, you definitely have a world class team. So kudos to you for building that team and honing them into that that lean, mean fighting machine that they are. I do want to ask you about this as well.
And I know we’ve talked about this privately, and I wanted to bring it into our public conversation as well. But you practice what you preach. You just talked about an MBA program, and McCombs specifically being like a test kitchen, right? And students having the ability to experiment and explore and learn different things and pay attention to their whole selves. And you’re one of the best examples I’ve known personally of a lifelong learner. Specifically, you’re a big proponent of community learning. Can you talk to me about what that is and why you’re such an advocate for that?
Sure, happy to. I think we can all agree that community is a buzzword right now. It’s kind of like brussels sprouts in 2013. Right, you know, we’re seeing this with major brands targeting micro influencers, who now have hyperlocal followers. There’s this great need, especially with Gen Z for transparency and connectivity. And in all the noise, people are fatigued, right? And community offers you a sense of curation and trust. And so I think this impacts how we learn. And we’re really starting to see this and I could list off quite a number of different organizations and resources.
But truly, at the end of the day, it’s people who are directly closest to you, who may not actually share your experiences, right? Your parents are not necessarily always a good proxy for the journey that you’re on in your career, for example. But when you can find people who share similar commonalities, and are on that same journey, then you get accountability, you get support. And I think most importantly, right now, you get a sense of belonging. You get a safe space where you can thrive.
And so I think part of what is creating buzz around the concept of communities. Again, it’s not a new concept, right? We’ve had communities since the beginning of time. But especially with online and virtual communities, the “Metaverse,” right is you know, what’s happening in the kind of web three space right now. It’s driving a lot of the conversation and I think adoption of communities in a different way than we’ve ever seen in the past.
So are there specific communities where you’re finding extra learning or connection right now?
Yeah, I’ll kind of list off a few. I think one that’s been personally valuable in sort of the space that I’m directly in is with the MBAInsider podcast and book community, so Al Dea and his community, he’s really curated MBA students, alumni who are sharing their stories, sharing their experiences, and watching him through the pandemic kind of really create a community. I think that’s been really powerful. And he’s again, he’s obviously a valued partner of ours.
But there’s a reason why, because I think that sense of community is what we have here at McCombs. And it greatly resonates. In terms of Web3 I would say, Invisible College and Odyssey DAO, D-a-o, which stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organization. And I won’t go into detail about those.
But again, these are just two names, and we’ll get to the links there. But these are communities that are really thinking about how do we help people learn more about the Web3 space. And it’s a broadly defined term. What is Web3? It’s everything from blockchain, cryptocurrency and NFTs. It’s this whole nascent space that is quite early. The rails haven’t even been built yet. It kind of feels in some ways, Ponzi scheme, as, you know, early California gold rush, perhaps.
But again, I do think there’s an incredible amount of learning and opportunities happening. And so these are really interesting communities to me, because not only are they thinking about learning in a different way, they’re thinking about how does that learning then integrate and scale to whether it’s millions of people, and again, how do education institution also think about scale differently. So a lot of these communities I’m in it’s partly similar to contributed to learn, but really is to learn to listen and observe. And then to test from the learnings I’ve gathered in my own environments.
I love that I feel like we could talk for the next three hours about blockchain, Web3, crypto, because all I’ll say is I’m personally looking at investing in the picks and shovels of this new space so I don’t have to feel the pressure of picking winners and losers. But that’s a conversation for a different day. That’s great insight, Daniel. We’ll include the links to those communities. So if any of you are interested in learning more, or joining those learning communities, you can go ahead and do that and connect with Daniel in those places as well.
So Daniel, we never like to let a guest go without asking you some fun and personal questions and putting you on the spot a little bit. And you’ve already done such a great job of advocating for Austin, you and I are both Austin based. I think we both share a love for the city, the area, the entrepreneurial spirit that’s here, the sunshine. And one of the things that Austin is known best for is the SXSW festival. And you are what I would call a power attender of SXSW. And so do you have a favorite moment or memory from South By that you’d like to share with us?
Yeah, I’ve got to say attending SXSW is like going to Disney World. If you aren’t familiar with it, South by Southwest is a global conference with multiple tracks revolving around education, music, film and interactive, and the interactive portion has evolved over the years. So it’s, again, if you haven’t been it’s kind of like walking around Pandora for marketing, culture, innovation. And I would say some of my favorite magic moments are getting the chance to meet celebrities, individuals you admire and hear them talk.
In 2019, I had the chance to listen to Mark Hamill – Luke Skywalker – on a panel, and then I got a selfie afterwards. That was that was pretty cool. I didn’t think I could ever top that. And I still can’t, but that one sits on its own. This year again, I think so much of the culture conversation is around, quote unquote, the metaverse right. And so I got a chance to listen to Mark Cuban, and a few different sessions on innovation, technologies, NFT and metaverse. And again, I think that was so rich, and again, of course, got his selfie with him as well.
I love that. Yeah, it’s not every day, and that not every place where you can hear from that caliber of person live.
So in your personal time, Daniel, again, I may reveal a little bit too much about you here, but you are your sous vide cooking expert. What’s the best dish that you make?
Yeah, that’s something I put on my LinkedIn. I’ve been sous vide cooking for almost a decade now. And so again, if you’re not familiar with sous vide cooking, the main concept is water is a better conductor of heat than air. So when you put food in an oven, you set your oven to bake a chicken at 400 degrees, and it’s going to dry out if you keep it in there too long, as the food has been brought up to temperature. And when you cook in a sealed bag submerged in water, you can trust the food’s not going to overcook and you get this incredible precision in you’re cooking. And so cooking a steak better than most restaurants is never going to get old. We’ve been doing it for a decade now.
But if you’re just diving in, I would highly recommend sous vide cooking chicken around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Again read the label, make sure you do it correctly. There’s definitely some FDA food safety pieces around that. But if you’re a pescatarian right, try salmon at 123, 124 degrees. That’s our family’s favorite temperature. My wife likes it’s slightly at 124; I like it at 123. Again, there’s a degree of precision you just can’t get with normal cooking.
And of course if you’re a vegetarian, there’s actually some incredible things you can do with root vegetables. So carrots sous vide at 180, 184 degrees, you can really infuse like rosemary and some other spice flavors, cumin that can do a lot of things that retain both sort of the nutrition and quality of the food item that you’re cooking. So again, I could go on for days. I don’t really have a favorite dish, but again, I think anytime someone asks me about sous vide cooking, those are some of my go-tos.
All right, Daniel, I’m coming over to your house for dinner.
Let’s do it.
And then we talked a lot today about the communities that you’re a part of where you are finding connection and learning right now. Is there a favorite book you’re reading or show you’re watching? It doesn’t have to be professional or serious, but do you just have a favorite that you’d recommend to our audience?
Yeah, there’s so many. I think I’ll give you one of each if that’s okay. Do we have time for that?
So book wise, I would say there’s a book I read almost a year ago, it came out about a year and change. It’s called “Unleashed: the Unapologetic Leaders Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You” by Francis Frei and Anne Morris. And, gosh, you know, this book really just focuses on sort of a key concept, which is the less that a leader focuses on themselves, the better that they actually do, and their teams do.
And so this book is based on research that Francis and her team really spent. I think one of their clients was Uber, and thinking through the toxicity that Uber was going through, can you fix that. So they were brought in as consultants. And so you have this book that’s rich with experiences. And of course, as a consultant, it’s filled with frameworks that help individuals quickly make improvements as a leader. And so if you are a leader, currently, if you’re struggling to be, if you’ve got recently promoted to be a leader, I think this is an incredible book for you. Because it hits on a framework around trust that I think is really incredible.
So there’s a trust triangle, you can certainly go Google, or check the YouTube videos that are out there, the TED talks that are out there, but I do recommend that book, because I do think it’ll be a book that sits on your shelf, and you come back to time and time again. In terms of podcasts, again, kind of going back to these ideas of communities and were kind of was what was my starting point, and sort of scratching this itch around the future. There’s a podcast called The Means of Creation. It’s a show by Li Jin and Nathan Baschez. And they kind of started off talking about the passion economy and the future of work.
And so again, we kind of went from the gig economy, what Uber created again, I would kind of call these Web2 economies. And slowly we started to see this shift from gig economy to passion economy and then now as we think about Web3 really think about ownership and ownership economy. And so I can’t think of a better podcast series that just highlights and touches on these concepts, which things that you just normally, in your normal day, your normal newsletters and stuff, you’re probably not going to get a lot information on. So again, that always being curious piece, if you want to add something, a little bit of spice, if you will, into your mix Means of Creation, I think is a great podcast.
I love those. And Daniel we’ll link to those in the show notes as well, so folks can check those out. Thank you so much for joining us today on Strategy Simplified. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation like I always do. And if you were listening closely, I think that there are multiple nuggets for you to mind no matter where you’re at in your career, consulting or leadership journey. So Daniel, thanks again for joining us.
Absolutely. Thanks for having me.