Monday, November 19, 2007

Review: Randy Pausch’s Last Lecturer

I try to make it a point not to blog during my “official working” hours, as I find it disruptive and I couldn’t finish my work. But sometimes I do browse around and find something really good (this time from Mei Ru), and couldn’t resist not to blog about it so that I would not forgot what I should have remembered.

Randy Pausch’s Last Lecturer. He was a Carnegie Mellon (once I wish I would get a chance to study there, thinking of the opportunity and possibility) professor who is dying of cancer. I didn’t know this great man prior to this, so I won’t pretend to introduce him properly. What I know is his last lecture, which is a 1:45 minutes of video and the time spent is definitely worth it.

I am not really good at writing a summary is nice English and story-telling kind of way, so I would utilize my usual efficient method of points form.


“When you screw up really badly and no one tell you about it, it means no one really care about you anymore (they had given up on you)”, so be glad when someone bother to criticize you (in a constructive manner).

“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you want”. I found it to be very true, as we learn more while trying to get it right. It makes us wonder and try more, knowing that we would reach there somehow, sooner or later.

“Captain Kirk is not really the smartest people on board on Enterprise; Spork was pretty smart, McCoy was the doctor and Scottie was the Engineer. What skill set does he have to sit on the no 1 seat in Enterprise? Leadership”. Sometimes it’s just more than technicality and raw knowledge.

“It’s cool to meet your childhood idol, but it’s even cooler to have him visit you and see what you had done in your lab”.

“Brick wall are there for a reason; they let us prove how badly we want something, and to keep ‘other people’ away”.

“Give people enough time, and they will be surprised and impressed with you”

If you found a student project which is the best that you had seen, what should you say to the creators? “Guys, what you have done are pretty good, and I know you guys could do better”. Why? You obviously don’t know where the bar would be, and you only would do them a disservice by putting it anywhere.

Project Alice, allow millions of kids to have fun while learning something very hard.

Andy van Dam, “It’s such a shame that people perceived you as so arrogant, because it’s going to limit what you’ll be able to accomplish.” What does it means? It means that you are a JERK.

“I don’t know about not to have fun. I am dying if I am not having fun. I am going to keep having fun everyday I have left, as there is no other way to life”. How many of us take it as it is we cannot have fun in out work, as it’s meant for survival and to support the family. Is there really no way to have fun in our work, and we didn’t try to make the necessary changes to make it happen?

“Never loose the child-like wonder”. Can you think of what childhood dream you used to have, and what had happened to it?

“Loyalty is a two-way street”.

“When you found a man who is romantically interested with you, just ignore everything he say and pay attention only to what they do”, Sharon Louis.

Would you put aside your wife’s birthday celebration to give the last lecture of your life? Randy would bring his wife along and celebrate it with his 500 audience.

How to get people to help you?
  • You can’t get there alone, and I believe in Karma.
  • Tell the truth
  • Be earnest
  • Apologize when you screw up
  • Focus on others, not yourself

Be prepared: “Luck” is where preparation meets opportunity

Head Fake: “When we sent our kid to learn football, they are not just learning football. They are actually learning teamwork, perseverance, etc”. It’s what you had learn when you didn’t realize that you are learning it.

Head Fake: “This lecture is not about how to achieve your dream, but how to live your life”. The dream is just an objective, is the journey that counts.

2nd Head Fake: “This lecture is not for you guys, it’s for my children”.


I think Randy is a good person with wisdom of life. Sometimes that we are obsessed with our dream, and how to make money or to find our passion and true purpose in life. It’s all about how to live our life. When you are lost, look at your life and think how to make it better (if it’s already not a better life).

I think there is always something special about western university like Carnegie Mellon, it is not so much about the quality of their courses and lecturer; it's the freedom and opportunity and exposure presented. You get to do and create things, and you are encouraged and given the necessary platform and environment to do so. The freedom to express.

1 comment:

meiru said...

I also haven't finished watching the whole video, but the preview of it is already pretty interesting.

Randy Paush is really someone special. Though he's dying young, but he lives his life to the fullest and many people will remember him :)