The Last Lecture

On September 18, 2007, professor Randy Pausch stepped in front of an audience of 400 people at Carnegie Mellon University to deliver a last lecture called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” With slides of his CT scans beaming out to the audience, Randy told his audience about the cancer that was devouring his pancreas and that was claiming his life in a matter of months. On the stage that day, Randy was youthful, energetic, handsome, often cheerfully, darkly funny. He seemed invincible. But this was a brief moment, as he himself acknowledged.

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

Randy Pausch was a professor of Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University. From 1988 to 1997, he taught at the University of Virginia. He was an award-winning teacher and researcher, and worked with Adobe, Google, Electronic Arts (EA), and Walt Disney Imagineering, and pioneered the non-profit Alice project. (Alice is an innovative 3-D environment that teaches programming to young people via storytelling and interactive game-playing.) He also co-founded The Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon with Don Marinelli. (ETC is the premier professional graduate program for interactive entertainment as it applies across a variety of fields.) Randy lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on July 25th, 2008.

I have watched both the original lecture (1h16m long) and the reprise he did at the Oprah show (11m33s). I’m adding both here, watch whichever one you prefer but the core message on both is the same. I would suggest you take the time to watch the full one. It truly is inspiring.

“The talk isn’t just about how to achieve your childhood dreams, it’s much broader than that. It’s about how to live your life because if you lead your life the right way the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you. If you live properly, the dreams will come to you. I think it’s great that so many people have benefited from this lecture but the truth of the matter is that I didn’t even really give it to the 400 hundred people at Carnegie Mellon who came, I only wrote this lecture for three people and when they’re older, they will watch it”.

Randy Pausch and family