The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture

Status: Read from Dec 8 to Dec 10, 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 206
My rating:  5star/5
Author: Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow


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 we 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.


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?”

This was the question that Randy had, when he was asked to give the Last Lecture. Like other professors, he didn’t had to imagine it as his last, because it was his last as he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Those who doesn’t know, Randy Pausch was a Professor of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. In August, 2006 he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During this time he was approached to give ‘The Last Lecture’.

Randy wanted his children to know who their father was. He wanted to pass on all the wisdom he collected from his father and his own experiences.  Being a professor, he felt this is the only way he can leave a print, for his children, by giving a lecture. The lecture he gave was full of optimism, hope, inspiration and humor. He tried to give the lecture full of snippets of stories and experiences from his own life, providing moral and inspiration. He had that charm to add humor to even a very serious topic. Some of the advises may make you feel that, he was from upper middle class family and he always got the support from his family and friends around. He was a person who had a very clear picture of what he expected and learned from life and what he was willing to share with the world. He always lived by the principles he believed and shared in the hope that others would benefit from it.

Many books dealing with terminal illness become famous because of gaining sympathy from readers. But this book is different. It’s not about dying or the emotional roller coaster the family undergoes when one member of the family has terminal illness. This book is about living. After knowing about his cancer, Randy didn’t brood about it, instead faced moment very optimistically. He was thankful to God that he had got some time to prepare about what he wants to leave as a legacy.

The book is full of inspirational quotes and inspiring stories. He talked about honesty, integrity, gratitude and the things that are dear to him. He lectured about the joy of life and how much he appreciated life, even with so little time left. He mentioned about living the childhood dream, how to achieve the childhood dream and how to enable the dream of many others.

Being a Computer Science lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University, he set up a virtual reality lab, where he taught ‘Building Virtual Worlds’. In 1998, along with Don Marinelli, he set up the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), to focus on educational goals and creative development in students. Randy also started Alice. Alice is a free download, innovative software tool that allows students who have never programmed before to easily create animations for telling stories, creating interactive games etc,.

You might not agree with all of Randy’s lessons, but you will be left with choosing to live with fun and optimism.

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand’.

” There’s a decision we all have to make, and it seems perfectly captured in the Winnie-the-Pooh characters created by A.A.Milne. Each of us must decide: Am I a fun-loving Tigger or am I a sad-sack Eeyore?”

After reading the book, i watched the video of his last lecture. I would suggest everyone to watch this video.

” The brick walls are there for a reason. They’re 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.”

About the Author:

Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch was a Professor of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States and a best-selling author, who achieved worldwide fame for his “The Last Lecture” speech on September 18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon University.

In August 2006, Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He pursued a very aggressive cancer treatment that included Whipple procedure surgery and experimental chemotherapy; however, in August 2007, he was told the cancer had metastasized to his liver and spleen, which meant it was terminal. He then started palliative chemotherapy, intended to extend his life as long as possible. At that time, doctors estimated he would remain healthy for another three to six months. On May 2, 2008, a PET scan showed that his cancer had spread to his lungs, some lymph nodes in his chest and that he had some metastases in his peritoneum and retroperitoneum.

On June 26, 2008, Pausch indicated that he was considering stopping further chemotherapy because of the potential adverse side effects. He was, however, considering some immuno-therapy-based approaches.

On July 24, 2008, on behalf of Pausch, his friend (anonymous) posted a message on Pausch’s webpage indicating cancer progression further than what was expected from recent PET scans and Pausch becoming more sick than ever. It was announced that his family had sent him into a hospice program — palliative care to those at the end of life.

On July 25, 2008, Diane Sawyer announced on Good Morning America that Pausch had died earlier that morning.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s