Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

-Randy Pausch

This goes hand in hand with the definition of learning:

Experience + Knowledge = Learning


Wow!  I did not know this!  Now I really can’t wait to see the movie!!!

Randy Pausch, the founder of the Alice software project, inspired millions of people with his brave fight against pancreatic cancer, particularly through his highly-publicized “last lecture” that outlined how to achieve your childhood dreams.

Pausch, who was also a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and a video game-related veteran, passed away in July 2008 at the age of 47, but one of his own dreams will come true when film director J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek movie debuts this Friday.

A very small speaking role featuring Pausch made it into the final version of the film. Pausch plays a crewman on the bridge of the Starship Kelvin, CMU’s media relations department pointed out in an email.

Pausch’s line?: “Captain, we have a visual.”

In 2007 at CMU, following his diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, Pausch — co-founder of the Entertainment Technology Center at the university — delivered “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” Millions have watched the video, seeking inspiration.

He said one of his dreams was playing the role of Star Trek icon Captain Kirk. Just months later, director Abrams sent Pausch an email saying, “[I] can’t promise you [a] role as CAPTAIN, but… we could do SOMETHING!”

He revealed that he donned a Star Trek uniform and played the role in late 2007, but only now has it been confirmed that he made the cut.

How do you teach your children in a few months what you planned to say in a lifetime?

That was the challenge Randy Pausch faced as the co-author of the critically acclaimed book, “The Last Lecture.”

Pausch, a computer-science professor from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, was dying from pancreatic cancer and only had a few months left to tell his story in the form of a book to his three young children.

What started as a hypothetical last lecture became an all-too-real last lecture for Pausch, who delivered it to a full room of colleagues and students. Pausch’s co-author and Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow helped turn his last lecture into a book that became a global phenomenon.

Zaslow spoke to a crowd in Warriner Hall’s Plachta Auditorium on Monday night.

Staff Reporter Sherri Keaton sat down with Zaslow hear his thoughts about Pausch and how he views the world a bit differently now.

Sherri Keaton: Why did you decide to take on co-authoring The Last Lecture?

Jeffrey Zaslow: I saw from the first minute that it could touch people in a remarkable way. I’m a journalist and a storyteller and I realized that this is a good story. From the first column to the last word of the book, this would touch people.

SK: How has he inspired you?

JZ: As a parent, I like to think I am more patient. I’d like to think that I help my kids more. That’s what I am hoping that I am a better parent. I am also hoping that when the time comes I will be as brave and as courageous as Randy.
SK: How did you both meet?

JZ: A week before Randy gave the lecture, I got a heads-up about it from the Journal’s Pittsburgh bureau chief. They gave me Randy’s phone number and I called on the way to the airport and that is how it first started. I first met him when I attended his lecture and wrote a column about it for The Wall Street Journal.

SK: Did co-authoring the book help you become a better journalist?

JZ: It was an assignment to help a man write the last moments of his life. It was a powerful assignment and I took it very seriously and we both had a lot of fun. I learned a lot about writing fast and writing something important fast, and I knew it had to be great. So, I wrote fast to do justice to Randy’s story, because it was a very special story.

SK: Are there any political or social issues you feel passionately about?

JZ: I agree with Randy a lot. Randy was about helping future generations find their way. And that is what he did. He thought it was important for women to be involved in computers and I had to think about that more. His hero was Jackie Robinson, a lot of kids today don’t know who Jackie Robinson is. So with that sort of thing I adapted from his cause because I saw how passionate he was about it.

SK: What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?

JZ: Seeing people here today who were touched by him … I was with a woman here, I signed her book and her daughter just died of colon cancer at age 22. She said Randy helped her daughter before she died. It was hard for me to watch that. I hear that a lot. People tell me their stories about loss, so I feel like it is my job to listen to them. I am happy to do that but it is hard.

SK: Why do you think people are most afraid of death?

JZ: It is the unknown. But Randy was not afraid of death, I don’t think.

SK: Why wasn’t he afraid?

JZ: Because he was a special guy and he was a scientist who realized the human body falls apart and his fell apart a little earlier than he would have wanted. That is a good way to look at it, if you can.

SK: Are you afraid of death?

JZ: I am. I would like to be as brave as Randy but I don’t know if I will be. A little less though after working on this book. Not that I am ready, but even if the road is long, it is short.

SK: How do people learn to transition (through life changes)?

JZ: Every change in life is hard. From high school to college can be hard – college to the real world. Even for people who transition into retirement, it’s hard. There is no easy transition in life. My goal as a journalist writing about it, is to help people find a little inspiration and fortitude to work through and go forward.

SK: What would your last lecture be on?

JZ: I think I would maybe tell all the best stories from my career and my family, and I would tell people not to cry too much.


“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”
–Randy Pausch

I really love this quote and it is a great example of ‘External Locus of Control’.  Let’s blame everyone and everything we can instead of focusing and accepting responsibilty for our actions and results.  We all have the power of free will and change…so be that change!

5 Lessons

The Last Lecture: 5 Evergreen Lessons

I am republishing a post I wrote around the time of Pausch’s death. It seems like the closer one is to death, the more genuine one becomes. The more courageous one is to speak his truth, and nothing but the truth. This was certainly the case with Randy Pausch, diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer in September of 2006, who died today at his home in Virginia.

A few months back, a friend sent me the video of his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon and I viewed it with the other millions of people in cyberspace. But unlike all the other lists of “10 things you need to know to be happy” I get in my inbox, his lessons stuck. I keep coming back to them, especially when I’m with my kids, pulling out my hair and begging the universe to send me a silent moment. THEN I will be happy.

This professor didn’t care about silent moments. Or a promotion to the dean of the college. Or a Porsche in the driveway. He saw beauty in the moment, even as he was dying. He celebrated his life to the end. This man was all about joy. Finding it. Savoring it. Sharing it. Believing in it. I guess that’s why he so impressed me.

As a person struggling with chronic depression and anxiety, I have trouble getting to the joy. I stop short of the curtain, afraid to pull it up and realize that it’s been right in front of me. Even though it has been at least four months since I saw his video, I remember very well these lessons:

1.Tell the truth.

Doing so will simplify your life. Harder in the short run, yes, but honesty leads to intimacy and life is about connection to one another, the shared experiences we have with friends and family. Now I’m not sure if the professor meant that when your wife asks you if you look fat in a pair of jeans, that you need to say yes, but I do agree with him that you absolutely have to spit out the real story when you want to tuck it into the pockets of those unflattering jeans. Because by doing so will grace your marriage, your friendships, all your relationships in the end.

2. Say sorry when you’re wrong.

Of course when you speak the truth, you divulge some less than perfect moments for which you need to apologize. And then move on. What a different world we would have if everyone who made a mistake said sorry and asked for forgiveness. No scapegoats. No excuses. Just a simple “Sorry. I did the wrong thing.”

3. Dream and dream big.

A large part of Pausch’s lecture was about pursuing your childhood dreams, and how these dreams need to be specific. For him, that was: playing in the NFL, authoring an article in the encyclopedia, winning stuffed animals, meeting Captain Kirk, being a Disney imagineer. And some of them came true. I couldn’t help but think of my own dad when he spoke about how important dreams are … even the seemingly shallow and unattainable ones. My dad wanted to be on a first-name basis with Frank Sinatra. Guess who sent a floral bouquets to his funeral? Frank and Barbara Sinatra.

4. Have fun and play more.

What a divine sense of humor this man had. His playful spirit was so charming throughout the lecture–the audience breaking into hysteria and laughter–that you almost forgot he was dying. Of all my tools to combat stress-especially the stress of dealing with manic depression–humor is by far the most fun. And just like mastering the craft of writing, I’m finding that the longer I practice laughing at life (especially at its frustrations) the better I become at it, and the more situations and conversations and complications I can place into that category named “silly.”

5. Live today fully.

This one Pausch nearly perfected. And it’s by far the most difficult for me. Because it means relinquishing some control over the future and letting things happen as they are meant to happen. It means believing in the miracle of the loaves and fishes–that there will be enough, even though it certainly doesn’t look that way. This lesson requires fretting less and trusting more. And it means recognizing the joy that is before you–tuning into it like today is the last day of your life.

God bless you, Randy. Thank you for your beautiful spirit, and your evergreen lessons.

To read more Beyond Blue, go to http://www.beliefnet.com/beyondblue, and to get to Group Beyond Blue, a support group at Beliefnet Community, click here.

I found this great reading guide with some great questions to ponder and reflect upon while reading the book.

A Totally Unauthorized Reading Group Guide to ‘The Last Lecture’ by Randy Pausch 10 Discussion Questions The Last Lecture By Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow

Source: One-Minute Book Reviews http://www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com

This guide for reading groups and others was not authorized or approved by the author, publisher or agent for the book. It is copyrighted by Janice Harayda and is only for your personal use. Its sale or reproduction is illegal except by public libraries, which may make copies for use in their in-house reading programs. Other reading groups that would like to use this guide should link to it or check the “Contact” page on One-Minute Book Reviews to learn how to request permission to reproduce the guide.

After learning that he had terminal pancreatic cancer, Randy Pausch gave an upbeat valedictory lecture at Carnegie Mellon University, where he teaches computer science. He called his talk “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” and explained in it how he had accomplished most of what he set out to do in life. Enlivened with humor and showmanship, his lecture drew millions of visitors to its posting on YouTube and made Pausch a star on the Internet. His talk also inspired The Last Lecture, a collection of short essays written with Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow, which became a No. 1 bestseller on the New York Times “Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous” list. Discussion Questions Please note that the page numbers below come from the large-type edition of The Last Lecture (Thorndike, 2008), the only one available when this guide was prepared.

1. When someone asked what he wanted on his tombstone, Pausch said: “Randy Pausch: He Lived Thirty Years After a Terminal Diagnosis.’” [Page 247] If you were to write his epitaph, what would it say?

2. Summing up a theme of his lecture and book, Pausch writes: “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” [Page 32] This is one of many clichés he admits he loves and uses liberally in The Last Lecture. Did he succeed in making any old ideas fresh? How did he do it?

3. Pausch began his lecture “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” by saying he wasn’t going to deal with big questions of religion or spirituality, and he sticks to that pattern in The Last Lecture. How does the book benefit or suffer from his decision?

4. The Last Lecture recycles much of what Pausch said in his valedictory lecture at Carnegie Mellon and expands some of it. Should people who’ve watched the talk also read the book? Why? What does the book give you that the lecture doesn’t?

5. Pausch could have called his book The Last Lectures, because he structures it as a series of mini-lectures instead of one long lecture. How well does this technique work?

6. The Last Lecture balances general advice such as “dream big” with specific tips – for example, about how to work well in small groups. “Instead of saying, ‘I think we should do A, instead of B,’ try ‘What if we did A, instead of B?’” [Page 190] Which, if any, of the tips struck you as most helpful?

7. Many cancer patients are bombarded with the advice to “be optimistic” or “think positively.” This approach has led to a medical backlash alluded to in the chapter “A Way to Understand Optimism.” Pausch says his surgeon worries about “patients who are inappropriately optimistic or ill-informed”: “It pains him to see patients who are having a tough day healthwise and assume it’s because they weren’t positive enough.” [Page 249] What is Pausch’s view of this? Is he appropriately or inappropriately optimistic? Why?

8. Many people who have heard about The Last Lecture may be tempted to give the book to someone who has had a devastating diagnosis, or who is perhaps dying, hoping it will provide comfort or cheer. What would you say to them? Is this a book for the living or the dying?

9. The Last Lecture comes from Mitch Albom’s publisher and literary agent and has a small format similar to that of Tuesdays With Morrie. These similarities – let’s face it – could be a kiss of death for some people, especially critics who see Albom as an icon of saccharine and dumbed-down writing. What would you say to someone who didn’t plan to read The Last Lecture because, “One Mitch Albom is enough”?

10. If you were going to give your own “last lecture,” what would you say?

Vital Statistics: The Last Lecture. By Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow. Hyperion, 224 pp., $21.95. Published: April 2008. A review of The Last Lecture appeared on One-Minute Book Reviews on May 30, 2008. If you are reading this guide on the home page of the site, scroll down to find the review. If you are reading this guide on the Internet, click on this link to find it http://www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/05/30/. Watch Pausch’s talk “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” and read an excerpt from The Last Lecture at http://www.thelastlecture.com. Furthermore: Pausch posts updates on his health at download.srv.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch/news/index.html. Janice Harayda is an award-winning critic who has been the book columnist for Glamour, the book editor of the Plain Dealer and a vice-president of the National Book Critics Circle http://www.bookcritics.org. One-Minute Book Reviews is for people who like to read but dislike hype and review inflation. Totally Unauthorized Reading Group Guides appear on the site frequently but not on a regular schedule. They usually deal with books for which publishers have provided no guides or guides that are inadequate – for example, because they encourage cheerleading for books instead of thoughtful discussion. To avoid missing these reviews, please bookmark the site or subscribe to the RSS feed. If you would like to see the guides continue, it would be extremely helpful if you would link to them. © 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved. http://www.janiceharayda.com

Time Management

I found this article today and honestly, I could not have written it better.  This completely applies to study skills and the topic of procrastination and time management

The Last Lecture: Wisdom about Time Management 

Stuck in the airport returning home from an emotionally exhausting day, tired and fighting an awful chest cold, my flight delayed to the wee hours of the morning, I stretched out on the seats in the waiting area with Randy Pausch’s book, “The Last Lecture.” His lecture, his life, has some important messages regarding our goal pursuit.

I had seen Randy’s lecture on YouTube, but not read the book. By the time I finished the book on the plane, I was in tears of course. I too am the father of very young children, and I’m older than Randy. His story touched on some of my deepest fears of loss. His story clearly speaks of time as a limited resource, something that 20-somethings rarely grasp, but by middle-age becomes painfully obvious to many people.

As Randy puts it, “Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think” (p. 111).

Randy, a self-admitted intensely focused person, understood the importance of time management long before his terminal cancer diagnosis. It is, as he called it, “one of my most appropriate fixations” (p. 108). He also was good at it, so he offered up advice from his experience that is worth sharing on this “Don’t Delay” blog. I have quoted each of his main tips below with an explanatory comment or example in parentheses after each, as necessary.

Time must be explicitly managed, like money.

You can always change your plan, but only if you have one.
(Make manageable, concrete task lists and take one step after another.)

Ask yourself: Are you spending your time on the right things?
(Make sure your to-do-list tasks, your goals, are really worth pursuing.)

Develop a good filing system.
(Organization saves time in the long run.)

Rethink the telephone.
(Don’t waste time on “hold” – be prepared to do other things as you wait.)

(Many hands make light work, and everyone needs autonomy.)

Take time out.
(Everyone needs a break, and not all delay is procrastination.)

Randy concludes his advice by writing, “Some of my time management tips are dead-on serious and some are a bit tongue-in-cheek. But I believe all of them are worth considering” (p. 111).

So do I, particularly where he begins, “time must be explicitly managed” and where he ends, “Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think.”

Are you spending your time on the right things? Procrastination is the thief of time.