Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture:

Really Achieving Your
Childhood Dreams

McConomy Auditorium
Carnegie Mellon University
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

Preface: I became aware of Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture" while bookmarking articles from The New York Times. On November 16, 2007, I read Tara Parker-Pope's Health Blogs: "A Professor's Farewell Sparks a Media Frenzy" and was deeply moved by the story. What impressed me most about Randy Pausch is his sincerity, telling the packed audience about his pancreatic cancer. His doctors give him only a few months to live. Here is a professor at the top of his field, designer of the Alice software that has been downloaded a million times to aid 3-D animation. He is co-founder of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon, enabling students in science and art to work together on projects in education and industry. He is a visionary imagineer with experience at Disney and Electronic Arts. He is also a loving husband and father to three young children, ages 5, 2, and 1. He's leading an extremely happy and productive life when cancer struck him. Instead being like Job, questioning why is this happening to me, Randy's talk did not veer off to religious or philosophical ponderings. He talked about his childhood dreams of winning stuffed animals at carnivals, authoring an article in the World Book Encyclopedia, being in zero gravity, working as Disney Imagineer. With hard work, determination, and persistence, he achieved them all. "Brick walls are there for a reason," he said. "They let us know how badly we want something." He was able to climb over the walls, not with talent alone, but with the help of mentors and friends. He kept his childlike wonder, worked hard, showed gratitude, and being earnest. He tells the students "I'll take an earnest person over a hip person every day, because hip is short term. Earnest is long term." Find the best in everybody and be fulfilled when you help others achieve their dreams. At the end, Randy tells the audience that the talk is "not about how to achieve your dreams. It's about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you." And the talk is not for the students in the audience, but for his kids. Someday when they are older, they'll appreciate what kind of Dad they had. Randy began his talk with his CAT scans showing the ten tumors in his liver, but he did not talk about his cancer. I admire Randy's stoic attitude to look death in the face and celebrate life and the joy of living. He did this so beautifully at the end of his lecture, telling everyone that yesterday was his wife Jai's birthday. So a giant birthday cake was wheeled onto the stage and shared with 500 people as all sang "Happy Birthday to You". Birth and mirth summed up Randy Pausch's Last Lecture— no wonder it was downloaded over a million times on the Internet. Here is a man of true courage with life lessons for us all. This web page is dedicated to him for he has much wisdom to share. Randy's Mom took great relish in introducing him as "this is my son, he's a doctor but not the kind that helps people." Randy's "Last Lecture" has helped countless people all over the world in living the good life.

Memorable Quotes from Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture":
(page # after quote is from the 26-page PDF transcript of "Last Lecture")

• Today's talk is about my childhood dreams and how I have achieved them.
  How I believe I've been able to enable the dream of others, and lessons learned. (p. 4)

• And as you get older, you may find that
  "enabling the dreams of others" thing is even more fun. (p. 4)

• When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody's bothering
  to tell you anymore, that's a very bad place to be. Your critics
  are your ones telling you they still love you and care. (p. 5)

• Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. (p. 6)

• The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out.
  The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.
  Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough.
  They're there to stop the other people. (p. 8)

• I created a course called Building Virtual Worlds... You make whatever you want.
  Two rules: no shooting violence and no pornography. Not because I'm opposed to
  those in particular, but that's been done with VR, right? And you'd be amazed
  how many 19-year-old boys are completely out of ideas when you take those off
  the table. [laughter & clapping] (p. 12)

• [Referring to his creation of Alice, a software program that teaches computer programming
  and 3-D animation that has been downloaded over a million times, with a new version
  coming out in 2008] I, like Moses, get to see the promised land, but I won't get to
  set foot in in it. And that's OK, because I can see it. And the vision is clear. (p. 16)

• This is a dormitory in Thailand that my mom and dad underwrote. And every year about
  30 students get to go to school who wouldn't have otherwise. This is something my wife
  and I have also been involved in heavily. And these are the kind of things that I think
  everybody ought to be doing. Helping others. (p. 17)

• [On Humility] My dad had fought in World War II in the Battle of the Bulge,
  and when we were going through his things [after he died], we found out
  he had been awarded the Bronze Star for Valor. My mom didn't know it.
  In 50 years of marriage it had just never come up. (p. 17)

• After I got my Ph.D., my mother took great relish in introducing me as,
  this is my son, he's a doctor but not the kind that helps people. [laughter] (p. 17)

• When I was in high school, I decided to paint my bedroom [shows slides of bedroom].
  I always wanted a submarine and an elevator... And the great thing about this is
  they let me do it. And they didn't get upset about it. And it's still there.
  If you go to my parent's house it's still there. And anybody who is out there
  who is a parent, if your kids want to paint their bedroom, as a favor to me
  let them do it. It'll be OK. Don't worry about resale value on the house. (pp. 17-18)

• [Lesson from his mentor Andy Van Dam, when Randy was his teaching assistant as
  sophmore at Brown University] Andy put his arm around my shoulders and we went for a
  little walk and he said, Randy, it's such a shame that people perceive you as so arrogant.
  Because it's going to limit what you're going to be able to accomplish in life.
(p. 18)

• Decide if you're Tigger or Eeyore. Never lose the childlike wonder.
  It's just too important. It's what drives us. Help others. (p. 19)

• Syl gave the best piece of advice pound-for-pound that I have ever heard.
  And I think all young ladies should hear this. Syl said, it took me a
  long time but I've finally figured it out. When it comes to men that are
  romantically interested in you, it's really simple. Just ignore everything
  they say and only pay attention to what they do. It's that simple. It's that easy.

  And I thought back to my bachelor days and I said, damn. [laughter] (p. 20)

• How do you get people to help you? You can't get there alone. People have
  to help you and I do believe in karma. I believe in paybacks. 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. Earnest is long term. (p. 21)

• Apologize when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself. (p. 21)

• Remember brick walls let us show our dedication. They are there to separate us
  from the poeple who don't really want to achieve their childhood dreams. (p. 21)

• Anybody can get chewed out. It's the rare person who says, oh my god, you were right.
  When people give you feedback, cherish it and use it. (p. 22)

• Show gratitude. When I got tenure I took all of my research team down to Disneyworld
  for a week. And one of the other professors at Virginia 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?
. (p. 22)

• Don't complain. Just work harder. [shows slide of Jackie Robinson, the first black
  major league baseball player] That's a picture of Jackie Robinson. It was in his
  contract not to complain, even when the fans spit on him. (p. 22)

• Be good at something, it makes you valuable. (p. 22)

• Work hard. I got tenure a year early. Junior faculty members used to say to me,
  wow, you got tenure early. 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.
(p. 22)

• Find the best in everybody... you might have to wait a long time, sometimes years,
  but people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting no matter how long it takes.
  No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side, just keep waiting, it will come out. (p. 22)

• And be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity. (p. 22)

• So today's talk was about my childhood dreams, enabling the dreams of others,
  and some lessons learned. But did you figure out the head fake? [dramatic pause]
  It's not about how to achieve your dreams. It's about how to lead a life.
  If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself.
  The dreams will come to you. (p. 22)

• [Closing remark by Andy Van Dam] Randy is the person, the Mensch, as we say
  in Yiddish. Your manifold accomplishments as a model academic, especially
  as a mentor to your students... You exemplify undaunted courage and grace
  under pressure. The most terrible pressure one can imagine. Randy, you have
  been and you will continue to be a role model for us Thank you so much for
  all you have done for us. And to allow us to tell you privately and in such
  a public way how much we admire, honor, and indeed love you. [applause] (p. 26)

Randy Pausch Web Sites:
Randy Pausch's Last Lecture
  (Resources, Alice Project, Media Coverage, Last Lecture)
Wikipedia: Randy Pausch
  (Professional accomplishments, Last Lecture, Media Coverage, Web Links)
Randy Pausch's Web Site
  (Professional & Personal Info, Photos, Alice Software, Entertainment Technology Center)
Randy Pausch's Cancer Update Page
  (Living a full and happy life despite being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.)
Alice Software Project
  (Alice 3.0 News, Teaching Material, Downloads, Media Coverage, Community Forums)
Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center
  (Our Mission, Who We Are, What We Do, How We Do It)
Building Virtual Worlds
  (Jesse Schell, instructor; Randy Pausch, former instructor)
Randy Pausch: Brief Biography
  (Carnegie Mellon Professor of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction & Design)
Publications of Randy Pausch
  (Publications in professional journals, conferences, and symposiums)
Randy's Sewing Projects
  (Sewing animals as gifts for his nephew and niece)
News about Randy Pausch: 1990-2007
  (22 news stories from Computer Science at the University of Virginia)
The Legacy of Randy Pausch
  (Lecture Videos courtesy of Prof. Gabriel Robins, University of Virginia)
Tribute to Professor Randy Pausch
  (Students at Amrita University, Coimbatore, India)

Randy Pausch Videos & Interviews:
Time Management (Updated)
  (Talk at University of Virginia, Nov. 27, 2007)
Time Management (PowerPoint)
  (Talk at University of Virginia, Nov. 27, 2007)
Time Management (HTML)
  (Talk at University of Virginia, October 1998)
Mind & Body: Confronting Death
  (Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah.com, Oct. 22, 2007)
Person of the Week: Randy Pausch
  (Charles Gibson, ABC World News, Sept. 30, 2007)
Dying Professor's Lecture of a Lifetime
  (Diane Sawyer, Good Morning America, ABC News, Sept. 21, 2007)
"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"
  (DVD of Randy Pausch's Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon, Sept. 18, 2007)
Google Video of Randy Pausch's Last Lecture
  (Randy Pausch: Childhood Dreams Lecture)
"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"
  (PDF Transcripts of Randy Pausch's Last Lecture)
Video: Dr. Pausch's farewell lecture at CMU
  (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Video of Randy's Last Lecture)
Interview: "Professional Profile" of Randy Pausch
  (ACM SIGGRAPH Education Committee Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 8.0, Winter 1996)

Randy Pausch News Stories:
Randy Pausch, 47, Dies; His 'Last Lecture' Inspired Many to Live With Wonder
  (By Douglas Martin, New York Times, July 26, 2008)
HEALTH BLOG: 'Last Lecture' Professor Randy Pausch, 47, Dies
  (By Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times, July 25, 2008)
HEALTH: Keeping Priorities Straight, Even at the End [Randy Pausch]
  (By Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times, Apr. 8, 2008)
Disney has final word on Randy's Last Lecture
  (By Philip Sherwell, The Telegraph, UK, Dec. 3, 2007)
Dreams With Eyes Wide Open
  (By Harvey Mackay, Hartford Business Journal, CT, Dec. 1, 2007)
Report: Dying CMU Professor Strikes Book Deal
  (Pittsburgh Channel, Nov. 28, 2007)
Huge Advance for Book Being Co-Authored by
  (By Dave Astor, Editor & Publisher, Nov. 28, 2007)
Randy Pausch Delivers Lecture on Time Management at UVA, Draws Crowd of Hundreds
  (By Michelle Unterbrink, Virginia Sentinel, Nov. 28, 2007)
RANDY PAUSCH: Time is All That Matters
  (By Anne E. Bromley, UVa Today, Nov. 28, 2007)
Professor with terminal cancer: There's less time than you think
  (By Brian McNeill, The Daily Progress, Virginia, Nov. 28, 2007)
RANDY PAUSCH: Time of your life
  (By Steve Austin, The Cavalier Daily, Nov. 28, 2007)
'Lecture' book will 'flesh out' Pausch's speech
  (By Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today, Nov. 27, 2007)
Hyperion Announces Plans to Publish Randy Pausch's Last Lecture
  (PR Newswire, New York, Nov. 27, 2007)
Former UVa Prof Giving His Last Lectures
  (By Matt Holmes, WCAV-Fox News, Virginia, Nov. 27, 2007)
RANDY PAUSCH: Prognosis Prompts Professor's Tour
  (By Annie Scholz, NBC NEWS, Nov. 27, 2007)
Book Deal for Dying Professor
  (By Associated Press, Motley Fool, Nov. 27, 2006, BW12)
Arts, Briefly: Hyperion bids $6.7 million for Randy Pausch's book
  (Compiled by Ben Sisario, New York Times, Nov. 26, 2007)
A Father's Gift
  (Leonard Stern, The Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 24, 2007)
One Man Who Gives Thanks Daily
  (By John A. Byrne, Business Week, Nov. 21, 2007)
Dying prof's last lecture hits home
  (By Neal Rubin, Detroit News, Nov. 21, 2007)
Hyperion Gets Last Lecture for $6.7 Million
  (By Kimberly Maul, The Book Standard, Nov. 21, 2007)
Hyperion wins auction for The Last Lecture
  (By Matthew Flamm, Crain's New York Business, Nov. 20, 2007)
Health Blogs: A Professor's Farewell Sparks a Media Frenzy
  (By Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times, Nov. 16, 2007)
Lecture of a Lifetime: U.Va.'s School of Engineering
  and Applied Science Hosts Talk by Randy Pausch

  (By Andrea Arco, UVa Today, Nov. 12, 2007)
If this were your final lecture...
  (By Harvey Mackay, The Arizona Republic, Nov. 11, 2007)
Pausch '82 finds audience for last lecture
  (By Sam Byker, The Brown Daily Herald, Nov. 5, 2007)
CMU professor stumps his doctors
  (By Allison M. Heinrichs, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Oct. 24, 2007)
CMU prof with cancer continues to inspire
  (By Mark Roth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oct. 22, 2007)
Dying prof tackles final dream— the NFL
  (By Allison M. Heinrichs, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Oct. 4, 2007)
The Professor's Manifesto: What It Meant to Readers
  (By Jeff Zaslow, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 27, 2007, D1)
With his Death Looming, Randy Pausch Gives the Lecture of a Lifetime
  (By Dan Heuchert, UVa Today, Sept. 25, 2007)
A Beloved Professor Delivers The Lecture of a Lifetime
  (By Jeff Zaslow, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 20, 2007, D1)
Randy Pausch's Last Lecture
  (By Gabriel Robins, University of Virginia News Announcement, Sept. 20, 2007)
CMU professor gives his last lesson on life
  (By Mark Roth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 19, 2007)
Professor diagnosed with cancer offers his final words for the CMU community
  (By Allison M. Heinrichs, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Sept. 19, 2007)
Lecture will be Carnegie Mellon prof's farewell
  (By Allison M. Heinrichs, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Sept. 17, 2007)
Alice Puts the Wonderland of Interactive Computer Graphics at Your Fingertips
  (By Charlotte Crystal, Inside UVa, Nov. 22, 1996)
Key to Success: Mark Creative Hours and Make Them Count
  (By Randy Pausch, Inside UVa, Jan. 27, 1995)
Virtual Reality: Now You Live it, Now You Don't
  (By Sherie A. Wilhelm, Cavalier Daily, April 19, 1994)
Get Ready For Virtual Reality
  (By Stanley L. Englebardt, Reader's Digest, Dec. 1, 1993)
Virtual Reality for Five Dollars a Day
  (About Randy Pausch, Virginia Engineering, April 1, 1992)
Computer-made 'Virtual Reality' Opening Unlimited Possibilities
  (By Lane Thomasson, Daily Progress, March 17, 1991)
Speech Device Could Assist Palsy Victims
  (By Lane Thomasson, Daily Progress, July 6, 1990)

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