Saturday, February 27, 2016

Book Review: The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch

An accomplished professor of Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction and Design at Carnegie Mellon University, and happily married father of three young children, Randy received the devastating news that he had terminal pancreatic cancer when he was in his early forties.

It is tradition for retiring professors to give their "last lecture" and this is Randy's.

Instead of focusing on his death sentence, he instead focused on his life lessons.

This is a truly inspiring yet non-religious book. He states up front that he won't talk about religion.

But he shares the rules he's lived by and how he achieved his various goals, which included being in zero gravity and working in the animation department at Disney.

One of my favorite stories in this book is a trip to Disneyland when he was a boy. He and his sister decided to spend ten bucks (this is 1969 so that was a lot of money for a kid), on a salt and pepper shaker set in one of the stores. At one point they dropped and broke it. Devastated, they went back to the store and told the clerks what happened. The Disney people gave them a replacement. When they told their Dad the story, he from then on, made sure he visited Disneyland often and rewarded his employees with trips to the park. His father ended up giving Disneyland more business than the ten dollars they gave up.

The point of the story was to be generous. Not because you expect something, but generosity does multiply.

The book is filled with inspiring stories of how he got to where he is and helping those along the way.

Sadly, Randy wasn't able to achieve his goal of surviving cancer and died not long after his lecture even though he appeared to be in perfect health. However he talked about how he lived his short but accomplished life.

The biggest heartache for him was leaving his children without a living father. Which shows that in spite of all we accomplish out there in the world, what really matters is family, whatever that is for us.

This is a really nice gift book especially for someone who is about to embark on a new page in their life.


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