Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Last Lecture

I just read a WSJ article about Randy Pausch's "last lecture" and I was reminded how wonderful it was. I thought I blogged about it previously but realized I didn't (I had sent an email about it to a bunch of my friends). It continues to be one of those things that rise "above the noise" in my mind so I would be remiss if I didn't write a post about it. The email I originally sent to my friends is below. If you haven't seen the lecture, it is time well spent.

Many of you may have heard about the “last lecture” given by Randy Pausch. For those of you who haven’t…

Randy is a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Recently he was told that he has pancreatic cancer and only has months to live. He is 46 years old. He was asked by Carnegie Mellon to give his “last lecture”. The lecture is being viewed by many people over the Internet and the Wall Street Journal had a recent article on people’s reaction to his lecture.

If you want to view his lecture, it can be seen here.

The entire video is quite long – about 1 hour and 45 minutes. I recommend viewing at least some of the video. Randy shares some life lessons that we all can use, especially those of us who are parents. It is also impressive to see how he is dealing with “the cards he has been dealt”.

To help you “fast forward” through portions of the video, here’s a quick overview…

After an introduction given by a colleague and friend at Electronic Arts, Randy’s lecture is divided into three sections:

  • His childhood dreams – He lists his childhood dreams and how he has “checked off” most of them.
  • How he has enabled others to accomplish their dreams – This section is primarily the work he has done as a professor. Randy’s specialty is virtual reality. If you aren't interested in this stuff, this is one section you could skip.
  • Lessons learned – In this section, he talks about the important people in his life and some of the lessons he has learned along the way. At the beginning of this section, he talks about his parents and the freedom they gave him to do the things he wanted to do. This section starts at about 1 hour and 3 minutes.

After the lecture, a few people pay tributes to Randy. Compared to a funeral, where people say wonderful things about a person after they have died, this is what I have always thought should happen instead – have people say wonderful things about a person while a person is still around and can feel the appreciation.



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