A lot of professors give talks titled ‘The Last Lecture’. They’re asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them:
What wisdom would they impart to the world if they knew it was their last chance?
If they had to vanish tomorrow, what would they want as their 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 combined the humour, 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.
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. An award-winning teacher and researcher, he worked with Adobe, Google, Electronic Arts ‘EA’, and Walt Disney Imagineering, and pioneered the Alice project. He died from pancreatic cancer in 2008, the year this book was published.
Jeffrey Zaslow, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, attended the last lecture, and wrote the story that helped fuel worldwide interest in it. Sadly, Jeffrey died in February 2012.
Watch the original video of Randy’s Last Lecture, below.