The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

I first saw a video from Randy Pausch lecture around 4 years ago on Oprah show. I was impressed by the few words I heard and was curious to know more about it.

For those who never heard of him,

On September 18, 2007, computer science professor Randy Pausch stepped in front of an audience of 400 people at Carnegie Mellon University to deliver a last lecture called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. With slides of his CT scans beaming out to the audience, Randy told his audience about the cancer that is devouring his pancreas and that will claim his life in a matter of months. On the stage that day, Randy was youthful, energetic, handsome, often cheerfully, darkly funny. He seemed invincible. But this was a brief moment, as he himself acknowledged.

Randy’s lecture has become a phenomenon, as has the book he wrote based on the same principles, celebrating the dreams we all strive to make realities. Sadly, Randy lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on July 25th, 2008, but his legacy will continue to inspire us all, for generations to come.”

That was a really inspiring read. I was stunned by all the positivity in that book. It was a great reminder for all the ordinary things that can make your life fulfilling and lead to the extraordinary things that make it worth living. It was a reminder of how amazing our childhood dreams are and that there are ways to make them true.

A great indicator about the content of this lecture/book is this quote by Randy Pausch:
“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

The lecture is divided to 3 parts:

  • My childhood dreams
  • Enabling the dreams of others
  • Lessons learned (there are some really useful tips in there)

Aside from the lecture, the book deals with how Randy Pausch prepared to write it, how he received the news of his diagnosis, how he and his family dealt with it and how he prepared them to go on with their lives after his death. It also talks about his past, present and legacy for his 3 children.

One sentence that grabbed my attention towards the end of the book; “Lucky” is a strange word to use to describe my situation, but a part of me does feel fortunate that I didn’t get hit by the proverbial bus. Cancer has given me the time to have these conversations with Jai (his wife) that wouldn’t be possible if my fate were a heart attack or a car accident.

And you gotta love the end of the lecture!

Pausch was named “Person of the Week” on ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson on September 21, 2007.  His “Last Lecture” attracted wide attention from the international media, became an Internet hit, and was viewed over a million times in the first month after its delivery. (Read more on Wikipedia)

Read some quotes from the book.

WATCH the full lecture:


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