Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow

This was one of the first videos to have gone viral long before the word went viral. I remember seeing the video, all one hour plus of it and being riveted at the message given by Randy Pausch, an accomplished computer science professor, in his final days after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The lecture was part of a 'Last Lecture' series organised in Carnegie Mellon by Profs who were retiring - Randy's was also one - in different circumstances.

The lecture was  was titled 'Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams'. Randy's and Jai's three children were aged between eighteen months and seven years so it was also his message to them. The book goes through his Last Lecture and how he prepared and gave it despite many constraints, stories about his childhood and his dreams and how they came true. how he enabled the dreams of others. There are many life lessons that he shares - his insights into how things work.

As you read the book you realise how this passionate young man who convinced his parents to draw stuff on the walls of his room - and then filled them up with interesting questions and thoughts - accomplished much. His dream of floating in space, being in the book his father used to buy for him, meeting William Shatner his hero from Star Wars, or working in Disney's Imageering team were some of his childhood dreams that came true. I loved the story of how he says his father spent close to 100000 USD on Disney trips simply because someone in Disney was kind to his children who broke a salt and pepper shaker they had bought for him and replaced it for free (customer service has its benefits). Little nuggets like the stuff about Thank You notes, about how to get attention (he did by breaking a VCR). Or the advise on people "In the end people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting." Or even what his female colleague told him about her insight on men "When it comes to men who are romantically interested in you, its really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do." Or "Don't complain, just work harder", or "Treat the Disease not the symptom", or showing gratitude to his team of fifteen by taking them on a trip to Disney World for a week or "Tell the truth" or "Get in touch with your crayons".

Lovely stuff. Nice easy read. Makes me want to watch his Last Lecture again. 

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