Photo by Teemu Paananen on Unsplash (This photo is not of the actual conference, I just wanted a nice cover photo)

My Personal Notes and Takeaways from The Going Deep Summit — Hosted by Aaron Watson

I don’t do conferences. I hate networking. I hate sitting through foo-foo talks. And I hate having to leave my family to attend what sometimes feels like an extra day of work… that I’m paying for.

But in late January of this year a friend of mine and fellow Pittsburgher, Aaron Watson, hosted a day-long conference called the Going Deep Summit conveniently located less than a mile from my apartment in Pittsburgh’s up-and-coming East End.

It was a cold and rainy Saturday and the thought of leaving behind my wife with a sick and cranky toddler for a day of personal development made me feel selfish.

“Go, you need this,” my wife told me as I lingered at the door.

So off I went. I grabbed a small coffee at my favorite coffee shop in the East End, Zeke’s, then walked the two blocks over to the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre.

(Side note: Coffee at the GDS was provided by Sunniva who were recently on ABC’s Shark Tank. I wasn’t a fan of how it tasted, when it comes to coffee I prefer it black.)

I ran into a few folks I had the pleasure of working with while I was at Praxis, as well as other Pittsburghers I’ve interacted with over the years on social media. (Pittsburgh is the perfect sized city — it’s big enough to make a name for yourself, but still small enough to know everyone.) We headed inside the theatre which was small and quaint, the perfect size for the summit.

Ed Latimore — former boxer turned author and personal development speaker (Ed’s blog:

A few takeaways from Ed’s talk that I captured:

  • You will fail often, and that’s a good thing
  • Perspective — the way we see life — matters, but the way we react matters more
  • How you treat people “going up” is how you’ll be treated “going down”
  • A quote that really stood out: “I’m not a boxer, but a person who boxes”

Michelle King and Nick Kaczmarek — co-teachers of Cultural Literacy at The Environmental Charter School

I didn’t take a lot of notes during Michelle and Nick’s talk. I had trouble following their message but I did enjoy their stage presence. Also, during their talk they had the audience construct a poem from a Madlibs-like prompt. Here’s my poem for giggles:

I am from bed
I am from gasoline
I am from work hard
I am from YouTube

Besides that the only other thing I jotted down from their talk was Empathy is the invisible hand.

Larry Gioia — Chief of Staff for Global Digital Strategy at PwC, founder of Dynamic Paddlers, and co-founder of the Pittsburgh Adaptive Sports Network

  • Larry is all about ABCD — Always be connecting the dots.
  • He reiterated my sentiment about networking: “That sh*t isn’t working.”
  • Keep giving and expect nothing in return

Dan Bull + Damon Tooey — ZeroSixEight and Codex Security

Whoa. First off, “068” is the area code prisoners are assigned when they go to federal prison. Second, everyone deserves a second chance. Third, I have no idea what mail fraud is.

Leah Lizarondo — 412 Food Rescue

I didn't take a lot of notes during Leah’s talk, I felt that she focused too much on her business and nothing that could be applicable to my situation. However, the 412 Food Rescue app is an interesting and good-intentioned idea:

Abbey Lovett — podcaster, blogger, and communications coach

It’s crazy, but Abbey is only 20 years old and commands the stage. Out of all the speaker’s talks, Abbey’s was the most practical to me as I learned more about rhetoric and why it’s still important even today. Here are the 5 cannons of rhetoric she covers:

  • Invention
  • Arrangement
  • Style
  • Memory
  • Delivery

Book recommendation: Talk Like Ted

Adam Haritan — Learn Your Land

Adam blew me away. There was just something about him and his message that got to me and really left an impact.

A few takeaways:

  • Find a problem in your life and fix it — That’s how you find your passion.
  • In nature, trees survive because of cooperation (with each other and other species) not because of competition.

Zak Slayback — Career coach and author

Zak is actually my personal business coach and I pay a pretty penny just for 30 minute weekly sessions with him. So consider yourself fortunate for this free hour of Punch-you-in-the-face-career-advice.

Want to get ahead when you have nothing to offer? Zak has 6 steps for you:

  1. Have something to achieve
  2. Look for problems
  3. Find their owner
  4. Propose solutions (4.5 Don’t be incompetent)
  5. Accrue social capital
  6. Repeat