The Last Lecture

 
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"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."
--Randy Pausch

A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave--"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"--wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

Questions for Randy Pausch

We were shy about barging in on Randy Pausch's valuable time to ask him a few questions about his expansion of his famous Last Lecture into the book by the same name, but he was gracious enough to take a moment to answer. (See Randy to the right with his kids, Dylan, Logan, and Chloe.) As anyone who has watched the lecture or read the book will understand, the really crucial question is the last one, and we weren't surprised to learn that the "secret" to winning giant stuffed animals on the midway, like most anything else, is sheer persistence.

Amazon.com: I apologize for asking a question you must get far more often than you'd like, but how are you feeling?

Pausch: The tumors are not yet large enough to affect my health, so all the problems are related to the chemotherapy. I have neuropathy (numbness in fingers and toes), and varying degrees of GI discomfort, mild nausea, and fatigue. Occasionally I have an unusually bad reaction to a chemo infusion (last week, I spiked a 103 fever), but all of this is a small price to pay for walkin' around.

Amazon.com: Your lecture at Carnegie Mellon has reached millions of people, but even with the short time you apparently have, you wanted to write a book. What did you want to say in a book that you weren't able to say in the lecture?

Pausch: Well, the lecture was written quickly--in under a week. And it was time-limited. I had a great six-hour lecture I could give, but I suspect it would have been less popular at that length ;-).

A book allows me to cover many, many more stories from my life and the attendant lessons I hope my kids can take from them. Also, much of my lecture at Carnegie Mellon focused on the professional side of my life--my students, colleagues and career. The book is a far more personal look at my childhood dreams and all the lessons I've learned. Putting words on paper, I've found, was a better way for me to share all the yearnings I have regarding my wife, children and other loved ones. I knew I couldn't have gone into those subjects on stage without getting emotional.

Amazon.com: You talk about the importance--and the possibility!--of following your childhood dreams, and of keeping that childlike sense of wonder. But are there things you didn't learn until you were a grownup that helped you do that?

Pausch: That's a great question. I think the most important thing I learned as I grew older was that you can't get anywhere without help. That means people have to want to help you, and that begs the question: What kind of person do other people seem to want to help? That strikes me as a pretty good operational answer to the existential question: "What kind of person should you try to be?"

Amazon.com: One of the things that struck me most about your talk was how many other people you talked about. You made me want to meet them and work with them--and believe me, I wouldn't make much of a computer scientist. Do you think the people you've brought together will be your legacy as well?

Pausch: Like any teacher, my students are my biggest professional legacy. I'd like to think that the people I've crossed paths with have learned something from me, and I know I learned a great deal from them, for which I am very grateful. Certainly, I've dedicated a lot of my teaching to helping young folks realize how they need to be able to work with other people--especially other people who are very different from themselves.

Amazon.com: And last, the most important question: What's the secret for knocking down those milk bottles on the midway?

Pausch: Two-part answer:
1) long arms
2) discretionary income / persistence

Actually, I was never good at the milk bottles. I'm more of a ring toss and softball-in-milk-can guy, myself. More seriously, though, most people try these games once, don't win immediately, and then give up. I've won *lots* of midway stuffed animals, but I don't ever recall winning one on the very first try. Nor did I expect to. That's why I think midway games are a great metaphor for life.



"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."
--Randy Pausch

A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave--"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"--wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

Customer Reviews:

  • the last lecture
    Easy read. Unique book. Great for an attitude adjustment. Will have you thinking about it for weeks after...more info
  • Memorable ideas
    How many books have you read where you remember even one sentence? Here's the one I remember from the Last Lecture; "experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted". I've used this with myself and my family many times since I've read this book. It is a bit of wisdom I will always remember. This book is replete with phrases that are not only memorable but true as well. Sadly, few books make such an impression.

    This book will be appreciated by those looking for encouragement and ideas on how to improve their lives, both professionally and with their families. It is a powerful and well written book and can be easily read within a day or two.

    Thank you Randy Pausch....more info
  • SHARE IT WITH EVERYONE YOU LOVE!
    The Last Lecture
    Read this one for book club and ended up really loving it - I got copies for my nieces and found myself recounting some of the stories Randy tells in the book to my mother and grandmother. It's a fun and easy read with terrific messages!...more info
  • Love, love, loved this audiobook!
    This book was so inspiring. We need to appreciate the little things in life a little more. And Raundy Paushe does just that!...more info
  • Wonderful, inspirational book
    Although the book is about a person who died, this is the most life afirming, inspirational book I've ever read. I keep refering back to passages again and again. I've given copies of this book to several of my friends and they all agree with me. ...more info
  • The Last Lecture
    This is a very good and easy to read book. The book is one thats hard to stop reading once you start. ...more info
  • Every Moment Counts
    What an amazing book in its simplicity and intensity. Having learned that he has terminal cancer, Mr. Pausch shares what's important to him and how he has lived his life. The common threads are honesty, integrity, pursuit of his dreams, and true appreciation of others and their impact on his life. I found this book very uplifting and inspiring.

    The book reminded me of Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment, a collection of stories by Ariel & Shya Kane about life, full of grace and beauty.

    These books are definitely worth reading and offer a powerful perspective of living in the moment. Both books consist of independent chapters, so you don't need to do front-to-back reading, or make any time commitment, but can just pick up either book and read a chapter. That's all it took for me to
    feel more balanced and my view of life shifted and became more vibrant. I highly recommend both books....more info
  • While on a flight...
    I read this book during a 4-hour flight. I must say that I'm a softy anyways but I was quite the water-works by the time we landed. I think that's when I asked myself, and my husband this question "If you were to die now and you looked at your earthly life, what would you have wished you'd have done, but didn't?" Now Randy Pausch knew that his days were limited and thus was forced to look at his own mortality and celebrate his life. Well, my answer is to that question was to read more books like his....more info
  • This is a positive, uplifting, thought provoking book
    This is a positive, uplifting, thought provoking book and has caused me to ponder my life and choices deeper....more info
  • The Last Lecture
    Read previously as library book lent by eldest daughter ,the librarian.It's
    a 5 star book When unable to return it I purchased this one & forwarded .
    Thanks for the prompt service, Faelton ...more info
  • Tremendously motivating, inspiring, and emotional
    This is one of those treasure you come across and want to immediately buy a copy for everyone you know. It is not the best written book, but the message is what draws the reader in. I feel grateful that someone at work let me borrow this book, and I am grateful that I took the time to read it. I was moved to tears. I have not seen the presentation so I cannot compare, but for me the book was an inspiration. I will also comment that the book packaging is quite nice. I like small books that I can lay around the house or office in various places for other people to discover and this is one of those books. It is under 200 pages so you can read it in one sitting....more info
  • Did you win the parent lottery?
    In Randy's book he talks about how lucky he was to win the "parent lottery" and that much of the wisdom he discusses comes from his parents. While reading it, I was amazed at how much of his outlook on life had been imparted to me by my mother (yes, I won the parent lottery). Some things, while cliche, are timeless and never change. His children and wife were very fortunate to have had him in their lives and I hope his life lessons not only help his living decendents but others down the road! This is a great book to buy, read and pass on to others. Peace...more info
  • Stop and think about what's important!
    I seldom read non-fiction because I read to escape. I picked this up cheap as a MobiPocket read on my BlackBerry and couldn't put it down. I laughed and cried, and it made me think about what should be important in life. Great book....more info
  • Uncomplicated and Intuitive
    I remember the story of an unfortunate woman who was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. After much suffering, she began to realize that dying every day would be an ideal way to live, because every morning would be new. She asked? "How can life ever be new unless you learn to die?" I understand what she was trying to say. In his own way, Randy's message is similar: How can life be new again unless you learn to live?

    "The Last Lecture" is an astute and inspirational read. In this day and age, we all need a bit of encouragement. Opponents may point out that some of the insights are not original. All the same, Randy's sound advice about how to live your life still resonates: focus on other people and not yourself. This is an uncomplicated and intuitive book. Highly recommend!
    ...more info
  • Not everything needs to be fixed
    This book is like a huge storage pot in which Pausch has crammed all his last words of wisdom, advice and ideas. Everything he felt valuable enough to be preserved, in one place, for the reader to access whenever needed. It is a distillation of how he has chosen to live and pursue his dreams (which in his case is the same thing: "If you live your life the right way...the dreams will come to you" and "work hard").
    Personally I found it valuable, and couldn't help but take notes as I was reading. Ideas which made sense or seemed worthwhile to be recorded for a later reference jumped out from the page and I have utilised the list several times since.
    In all honesty I was expecting this to be a bit of a tearjerker story, about a poor man and his suffering family, and was very surprised with how upbeat and positive it was. I probably only wiped a tiny tear away once. Instead it was energising to read positive and affirming anecdotes, accompanied by universally applicable principles. Pausch's realistic but unsentimental take on life and its defining moments had such strength. Additionally and logically then, this wasn't really about his cancer. The cancer was merely the distilling event, which brought the entire lecture and the book into being. Yet the topic of the text was life, to live life to its fullest, to enjoy it, to be happy, to work on achieving one's dreams, on a daily basis. Pausch would have probably written and distributed this knowledge under other circumstances too, but perhaps not this early and it possibly would not have had the same impact. The illness may also, perhaps ironically, have heightened its impact and credibility. And confirmed the assurance that not everything needs to be or can be fixed ("It is what it is").
    Overall: personal, encouraging, inspiring, enjoyable, interesting, helpful; a unique legacy to leave behind for his children and millions of others....more info
  • Sparks and Fireworks!
    Reading the last lecture was very inspiring. Randy Pausch's recount of his lecture prior to dying of pancreatic cancer left me in awe. His fortitude and love for life is remarkable and what a beautiful legacy he left to the world. (The lecture was dedicated to his children originally as a way for them to get to know their father after he had passed.)

    One of my favorite quotes from the book is "A spark of enthusiasm turned into fireworks."

    That is how my life feels since I have been reading Working on Yourself Doesn't Work: The 3 Simple Ideas That Will Instantaneously Transform Your Life by Ariel and Shya Kane and attending their Monday Night evenings and workshops in New York City. Their approach to living in the moment has ignited sparks in all areas of my life. By taking care of what is directly in front of me, things become effortless and activities, regardless of what they are (laundry, work, exercise), are full of satisfaction. I feel a sense of connectedness to the world that I had never experienced before. I recommend both authors to start the fireworks in your life and as a great gift to your dear ones....more info
  • Wonderful reading
    The author is suffering from cancer and yet, he remains so strong and humble. Wonderful man and great writer. Very inspiring!
    ...more info
  • The Last Lecture
    What a fantastic story. It offers great life lessons for one and all. Helps to bring life's challenges into perspective and goes to show that no matter what your dreams are, if you believe it it can be. Wow the power of positive thinking and acceptance of what is. It has changed the way I go through life....more info
  • Awesome Legacy
    I was first drawn to this book because of its title. I often start my meditations asking, "What if this were my last meditation, what would I talk to Jesus or God about." I quickly discovered that Randy was truly writing what I was asking, except he was asking for his children.
    Randy has left the most awesome legacy for his family. How many of us can pull a book off a shelf written by a father/husband and be reminded, in so many ways, how much we are loved or to read suggestions for living a full life, like a little book of life's instruction.
    This book gives one pause to think. It might even encourage others into writing their own. Thank you, Randy.
    ...more info
  • The Best!
    This is an incredible book in many ways. I have not finished it yet, but it is very quick reading. It is not dark or depressing, and is like having a wonderful and uplifting real conversation with the author. Plus, the book itself is beautiful. Lovely cover and the pages are rough on the edges; VERY nice touches. I have promised to lend to several friends. ...more info
  • wonderful
    Everybody should read this book. It reminded me of lessons taught by my parents that maybe I don't really adhere to anymore. This should be mandatory reading for all high school students. ...more info
  • The Last Lecture
    Excellent read, very inspiring. I hated the final outcome for Randy Pausch, but his last days and lecture should be a testament to how we should walk through life. ...more info
  • A Gem of a Book
    This is a lovely sensitive book. It is a series of small vignettes, some funny, some sweet, some sad. Even though there is not a happy ending, it is thoroughly uplifting. This is a person with an extremely optomistic outlook and a joie de vivre that is unrivaled. His is a philosophy to be followed by everyone. This is a book that can be read and reread very easily, and I will treasure having it in my library....more info
  • Spectacular.
    this book is wonderful. it is one of those books i will keep on my nightstand next to my bed for the rest of my life, and refer to occasionally. dr. pausch was an outstanding man, and i only wish i could have been one of his students. but, i am happy that in a way, through this book, i feel as if i am one of his students, as i pass the wisdom from the book on to other people in my life.

    this book is truly, truly a treasure....more info
  • A great addition to your bookshelf
    The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch has been widely hailed as a must-read. When Randy Pausch gave his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon, he knew that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer and likely would never get the opportunity to teach again. Pausch chose not to focus on his area of specialty, but instead on his advice for living life to it's fullest. The lecture focused on small tips for living life not only to it's fullest, but simply living well. I didn't feel that the book offered me any huge revelations or that it caused any epiphane in my thinking or lifestyle. However, I do think it acted as a great reminder of many important life lessons that I've already learned, and a few that I've probably yet to learn.
    Overall I felt this book was a great addition to my bookshelf. I'd read it again in the future when I feel I need some inspiration or when I feel that I'm losing focus of the "big picture." ...more info
  • The Last Lecture
    With just having a friend die of breast cancer, this allows me to feel and see the other side, and to pray harder for each cancer patient for a cure soon. It was an eye opener to those suffering from this deadly disease....more info
  • A nice read for everyone
    Randy Pausch's last lecture is a poetic summation of his positive and life affirming outlook. If you are looking for a fun read with some substance this is a nice little book to pickup....more info
  • Want to make an influence?
    I am excited about reading this book! What would we do if we knew this would be our last day? I've heard allot about this book!...more info
  • so so
    I so wanted to love this book. I received it as a gift and tore into immediately but found myself waiting for a moment of inspiration, a tear in my eye, a sigh...something. but those never came. I love inspirational stories, but the Last Lec just didn't do it for me. Sorry. All the best to the author's family....more info
  • If everyone just tried half as hard to live such a life
    My husband and I read this book aloud to each other during a recent road trip with our three children. Aside from having to censor the occasional "bad word," this was such an incredible book full of words of wisdom and fabulous memories from the author. I didn't find myself blubbering throughout the book - that was good. It was a quick read - bittersweet and wonderful. In case I needed any extra prodding, this book gave me additional inspiration to make sure I create beautiful memories for my wonderful husband and kids to reflect upon as we live our lives....more info
  • Great life story & call to live life to the fullest
    Most of it reads as a collection of stories from his life with a few reminders and calls for us to fully embrace the opportunities life brings. Enjoyable read. ...more info
  • Share with any teacher you know
    I purchased this copy for my principal at school (high school - 650 students) and told him, "This is why we do this." (I'm a teacher.) He is a terrific principal...interested not only in doing right by the kids, but doing right by his staff. He already has begun to share tidbits during faculty meetings...very uplifting...especially when we get stressed. It is gratifying to know that, while not as eloquent as Randy Pausch, most of us in the professional share his delight and passion. I dive back into the book when I need reassurance....more info
  • Aida Osmani
    I enjoyed this autobiography, although I have read many other, much better ones. I love the cover of the book. I would recommend it for a Sunday afternoon read.
    From The Ruins: Refugee, Daughter, American Soldier...more info
  • The Last Lecture: The Best Advice Anyone Will Ever Need
    The Last Lecture is, in the college world, where professors and students are asked to think like they are dying in a set amount of time and to write a Lecture telling the world what he or she would like to pass on. Randy Pausch was a Computer Science Professor at Carnegie Mellon. He decided to give a Last Lecture after being given 3-6 months to live. He left behind 3 children under the age of 5 and a wife. Randy felt that if he wrote a lecture to his children but delivered it to an audience, instead of just setting up a camera in his living room, that the information in his Lecture would have more weight when his children grew up. Randy gives advice on tackling the "brick walls" in your life as well as lessons he has learned and how they helped him in his life. I highly recommend this book to anyone that would like some helpful insight to their own lives. The great thing about this book is that it can help anyone from a Nascar driver to Scientists and Businessmen alike. I am an OSU CompII Student in the Spring of 2009 Semester and I loved this book. ...more info
  • Book
    What a memoir of his life before and after his diagnosis. Great reading. Seller and delivery were prompt. AAA++++++++++++...more info
  • Blueprint for living a life well-loved
    What an amazing book! I write memoirs for others and this book gave me more inspiration to help others realize the value of their lives. It is sad that some people don't think about the legacy of their life until it's too late. Randy not only left a legacy for his children but for many others in writing and publishing his story. This is a must-read....more info
  • be true to "you"
    of course there are many books of this sort. books where people of different statures and ages and cultures want to let others in on their acquired wisdom before they depart this life. What makes this book different then others I have read is that Randy writes about his experiences in way that is relatable to any reader in any part of their life. his basic message is to go after what you truly want in life, be it your childhood dream to work for Disney or to be able to float in zero gravity. And he describes each experience and why it was so successful for him. "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity".
    i found many inspiring pages in this book. "..brick walls are there for a reason. They're not to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something." "experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted."
    Randy writes in his "last lecture" that he feels lucky to have been diagnosed with cancer because this way he has time to prepare himself and his family for their future, whereas a car accident would have been sudden. His three young children will, heartbreakingly, grow up without having their father present, however, he has left them an amazing legacy and video so that they have a better idea of the man their father was.

    I truly recommend this book for anybody of any age. It is heartbreaking because Randy does have terminal cancer, however, in the face of death "only knows how to have fun". I definitely will try to be more so like Tigger then Eeyore from now on, and try to implement much of Randy's advice in my own life. ...more info
  • Private Journal for Family
    This book was required reading for a Reflective Writing Course. There are so many other journals I could recommend that teach life lessons in a less self-righteous way, with wit and humor, that is just missing from this book. I found myself thinking that his children and family will treasure the book, but I could live without it. It's very dry, without style, and I just didn't relate to his anecdotes. There are better and more inspirational life stories out there. ...more info
  • Inspiring...
    In our fast paced world we can always benefit from someone who knows what truly matters. The Last Lecture provides a unique look into the heart of someone faced with the ultimate question..what really matters in one's life. I also recommend Body Mind Soul Solution: Healing Emotional Pain Through Exercise. Livingstone provides practical and powerful strategies to cope with many of the difficulties and challenges we are faced with everyday through his unique approach to exercise....more info
  • Great book for all, about life, and how to make the best of it
    Most of us have seen Randy Pausch on TV even before he passed. A lady sitting next to me flying home made me promise to read his book. I did, and now I bought two copies for my two sons, one already in, one about to apply to graduate school. Randy Pausch really wrote this book for their young children about life, and how to live life, while dying from cancer of the pancreas. He knew he would not live to tell his children all he hoped to share with them, hence this book was written as his legacy, for all. The book is funny, and gives great insights on what is important, how to set your goals, and how to achieve them. There are great hints on time management and personal interactions. I would like you to promise you read it!...more info
  • An inspiring book about an inspiring man
    Less than five percent of all pancreatic cancer patients are alive after five years after their diagnosis. This is how Professor Randy Pausch knew that his end was coming. Randy was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1960 and became a professor at Carnegie Mellon University teaching classes in computer science. Randy had three kids, which was his main reason to write his Last Lecture. He was also married happily to his wife Jai, when he died in July, 2008.
    Randy wrote his Last Lecture as a way of saying goodbye to his friends, family, and colleagues that he loved with all of his heart. His main focuses were on achieving his childhood dreams and goals. He also talks about his parents and many role models that he had as a child. Randy had goals ranging from meeting Captain Kirk of the Enterprise, to being in the NFL. He was able to complete every single one of his ambitions because of luck and perseverance. Randy Pausch accomplishes his goal in writing the Last Lecture to the highest degree. This book inspired many people that never even met Randy, to never give up and to appreciate life. So many people were inspired that the Pittsburg city counsel made November 19, 2007 "Dr. Randy Pausch Day".
    Although this book can sometimes get monotonous because many of the topics are similar to each other, but it is overall an inspiring story about a man's experiences in life. Randy is also rather sarcastic at times which can be a drawback for many readers including myself. For a main part of the book the reader is drawn in by Randy's way of leaving his life behind for his kids, which are too young to remember him. This book is overall a great read that will leave the reader reliving their childhood dreams.
    ...more info
  • This book is a must read for all ages
    This is absolutely the best book I have read in the past 12 months. I received it as a birthday gift from my son and I was so impressed with it that I purchased several additional copies to give to the people I work with. It touches everyone no matter what age and is filled with practical advice for both work and personal relationships. I highly recommend it. ...more info

 

 
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