Randy Pausch

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If I could only give three words of advice, they would be, "Tell the Truth." If I got three more words, I'd add, "All the time."

Randy Pausch (1960-10-232008-07-25) was a Professor of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States and a best-selling author, who achieved worldwide fame for his speech The Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon University, after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and having only a few months to live.

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The Last Lecture (2007)

The Last Lecture (18 September 2007)
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.
You obviously don't know where the bar should be, and you're only going to do a disservice by putting it anywhere.
If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.
  • We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I don't seem as depressed or morose as I should be, I'm sorry to disappoint you.
  • We're not going to talk about spirituality and religion. Although I will tell you that I have experienced a deathbed conversion. I just bought a Macintosh.
  • So what is today's talk about then? It's about my childhood dreams. and how I've achieved them — I've been very fortunate that way; how I believe I've been able to enable the dreams of others, and to some degree, lessons learned: I'm a professor — there should be some lessons learned — and how you can use the stuff you hear today to enable your dreams or enable the dreams of others. And as you get older you may find that enabling-the-dreams-of-others thing is even more fun.
  • When you're eight or nine years old and you look at the TV set and men are landing on the moon — anything is possible. And that is something we need to not lose sight of — that the inspiration and permission to dream is immense.
  • Have something to bring to the table, because that will make you more welcomed.
  • 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. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people!
  • 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 the ones telling you they still love you and care.
  • Having been selected to be an author in the World Book, I now believe that Wikipedia is a perfectly fine source for your information, because I know what the quality control is for real encyclopeidias — they let me in.
  • Wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you. He said, when you are pissed off at somebody, and you're angry at them, you just haven't given them enough time. Just give them a little more time — and they'll almost always impress you. And that really stuck with me. I think he's absolutely right on that one.
  • It's very important to know when you're in a pissing match. And it's very important to get out of it as quickly as possible.
  • What he said was: "You obviously don't know where the bar should be, and you're only going to do a disservice by putting it anywhere." And boy was that good advice.
    • Quoting the advice of Andries van Dam on challenging his students after they already completed excellent performances on their first two week assignment.
  • The best gift an educator can give is to get someone to become self reflective.
  • The best way to teach somebody something is to have them think they're learning something else.
  • Respect authority while questioning it.
    • Presentation placard
  • I'm dying and I'm having fun. And I'm going to keep having fun every day I have left.
  • You just have to decide whether you are Tigger or an Eeyore. You have to be clear where you stand on the Tigger/Eeyore debate.
  • Never lose the child-like wonder. It's just too important. It's what drives us.
  • Help others.
  • It took me a long time but I 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.
    • Quoting a CMU secretary
  • You get people to help you by telling the truth; by being earnest. I'll take an earnest person over a hip person every day, because hip is short-term, earnest is long term.
  • You can't get there alone and I believe in karma.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Be earnest.
  • Apologize when you screw up.
  • Focus on other people, not on yourself.
  • Remember brick walls let us show our dedication. They are there to separate us from the people who don't really want to acheive their childhood dreams.
  • Get a feedback loop and listen to it. ... When people give you feedback, cherish it and use it.
  • Show gratitude.
  • Don't complain; just work harder.
  • Be good at something. It makes you valuable.
  • Junior faculty members used to come up to me and say. "Wow, you got tenure early; what's your secret?" I said, "It's pretty simple, call me any Friday night in my office at 10 o'clock and I'll tell you.
  • Find the best in everybody.
  • Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.
  • Did you figure out the head fake? It's 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.
  • Did you figure out the second head fake? This talk's not for you. It's for my kids.

The Last Lecture (2008)

Expanded and revised publication version of his last lecture
Do not tell people how to live their lives. Just tell them stories. And they will figure out how those stories apply to them.
  • Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.
  • If I could only give three words of advice, they would be, "Tell the Truth." If I got three more words, I'd add, "All the time."
  • Never give up: There are certain times that you think, “OK, you have beaten me down to my knees. And now the challenge is, I am on my knees and you keep on beating me down. And the question is, are you going to keep beating me all the way to the ground or will I find a way to struggle my way back on to my feet.”
  • We all stand on the dart board and very few of us catch the darts. Do not think it is unfair. It is fair but you are unlucky.
  • Do not tell people how to live their lives. Just tell them stories. And they will figure out how those stories apply to them.

CMU Graduation speech (2008)

Graduation address at CMU (18 May 2008)
We don't beat the reaper by living longer, but by living well, and living fully — for the reaper will come for all of us. The question is: what do we do between the time we're born and the time he shows up.
  • We don't beat the reaper by living longer, but by living well, and living fully — for the reaper will come for all of us. The question is: what do we do between the time we're born and the time he shows up.
  • I assure you I've done a lot of really stupid things, and none of them bother me. All the mistakes, and all the dopey things, and all the times I was embarrassed — they don't matter. What matters is that I can kind of look back and say: pretty much any chance I had to do something cool I tried to grab for it — and that's where my solace comes from.
  • It is not the things we do in life that we regret on our death bed. It is the things we do not. Find your passion and follow it. And if there is anything that I have learned in life, you will not find that passion in things. And you will not find that passion in money. Because the more things and the more money you have, the more you will just look around and use that as the metric — and there will always be someone with more. Your passion must come from the things that fuel you from the inside. That passion will be grounded in people. It will be grounded in the relationships you have with people and what they think of you when your time comes.

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