Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Randy Pausch

Dr. Randy Pausch, A professor in computer science at the coveted CMU(Carnegie Mellon Institute) passed away on July 25th 2008. When he was still fighting I got to know about his best seller 'The last Lecture'. I saw the entire lecture on his web page and was quite taken aback by his zest for life. Since then I have been a regular visitor to his daily update page to check how he is doing and whether he has any positive improvement. But sadly enough after his June 24th post, no post came forward. although I kept him in may daily prayers, I did not see any new post on his health until July 24th. Then finally on 25th July 2008 he passed away. He was suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer which was diagnosed in Summer of 2006. His prognosis was not good and cancer recurred in August 2007 only leaving him 3-6 months of healthy living. Although he has outlived the time line, but his health continued to decline. Then finally the inevitable happened on 25th July 2008. This paragraph is a tribute to a great life...

Here are some reminiscence of his "Last lecture".

Achieving your childhood dreams – by Randy Pausch

* "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"

* Randy Pausch's "final" lecture was given on 18 September 2007, as part of a series at Carnegie Mellon University. A full transcript is carried at Here are 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."