Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.

Professor Randy Pausch gave his last lecture at the Carnegie Mellon University on Sept. 18, 2007, before a packed auditorium. In this moving presentation, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” he talked about lessons he has learned in life and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals. He died on July 25th 2008

Duration 1 hour 16 minutes. A full transcript is carried at www.randypausch.com

Some highlights: 

* “It’s wonderful to be here. What they didn’t tell you is that this lecture series used to be called ‘The Last Lecture’. If you had one last lecture to give before you died, what would it be? I thought, damn, I finally nailed the venue and they renamed it!”

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I don’t seem as depressed as I should be, sorry to disappoint you. I assure you I am not in denial. It’s not like I’m not aware of what’s going on… The other thing is that I am in phenomenally good health right now. I mean, it’s the greatest thing of cognitive dissonance you will ever see: the fact that I am in really good shape. In fact, I am in better shape than most of you. [Pausch starts doing push-ups.] So anybody who wants to cry or pity me can get down and do a few of those.”

How do you get people to help you? By telling the truth. Being earnest. I’ll take an earnest person over a hip person every day, because hip is short-term.”

Apologise when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself. How do I make a concrete example of that? See, yesterday was my wife’s birthday. If there was ever a time I might be entitled to have the focus on me, it might be the last lecture. But no, I feel very badly that my wife didn’t really get a proper birthday, and I thought it would be very nice if 500 people… (a birthday cake is wheeled on to the stage.)

Remember: brick walls let us show our dedication. They are there to separate us from the people who don’t really want to achieve their dreams. Don’t bail. The best of the gold’s at the bottom of barrels of crap.”

Show gratitude. When I got tenure I took all of my research team down to Disney World for a week. And one of the other professors said: ‘How can you do that?’ I said: ‘These people just busted their ass and got me the best job in the world for life. How could I not do that?'”

Don’t complain. Just work harder. (shows slide of Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player.) It was in his contract not to complain, even when fans spit on him.”

Work hard. I got tenure a year early. Junior faculty members used to say to me: ‘What’s your secret?’ I said: ‘It’s pretty simple: call me any Friday night in my office at ten o’clock and I’ll tell you.'”

Find the best in everybody. You might have to wait a long time, but people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting, it will come out. And be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.”

Compiled by Zen Moments

The Last Lecture by Randy PauschThe Last Lecture

Randy Pausch

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

Read an interview with Randy Pausch (below the book info.)

“A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.” Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave–“Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”–wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.” Amazon book review


Another moving story: The Cab Ride I’ll Never Forget


“Great moments often catch us unawares….”

I looked in the rearview mirror. Her eyes were glistening.

“I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long….”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to go?” I asked…

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