Book Report: The Last Lecture

If you’ve got a free hour and 15 minutes, it’s hard to beat spending your time watching The Last Lecture video, which went viral a little less than a  year ago.  The book by the same title (The Last Lecture) introduces some new material, but is mostly the same as the video.  I found, though, that by absorbing it in smaller pieces in book format I liked it a lot better.

Be forewarned, though, especially if you have small kids.  This is only the second book to ever make me cry.  So much so, in fact, that I couldn’t finish the last 5 pages.

In case you have been living under a rock for the last 11 months, Randy Pausch is a professor at Carnegie Mellon who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and delivered a stirring last lecture that became an online phenomenon.  And for good reason.  Both the book and the video serve as a list of things he wanted his 3 kids to know about him and serve as the advice he wouldn’t be around to deliver to them.  Of the book, he has said in interviews that he only cares about the first 3 copies.

I found the end to be quite heartwrenching since his oldest son is about the same age as my daughter.  I can’t possibly fathom what it would be like to know I was leaving her, but Pausch takes it on with an optimistic enthusiasm that is infectious.  Instead of trying to paraphrase his insights, here are my favorite quotes throughout the text.

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

“It’s not helpful if we spend every day dreading tomorrow”  –his wife Jai

Tips for improved group collaboration (paraphrased):

  • Meet people properly
  • Find things you have in common
  • Try for optimal meeting conditions
  • Let everyone talk
  • Check egos at the door
  • Praise each other
  • Phrase alternatives as questions (‘What if we did A instead of B’)

“Go out and do for others what somebody did for you.”

“When giving an apology, any performance lower than an A really doesn’t cut it.  Halfhearted or insincere apologies are often worse than not apologizing at all because recipients find them insulting.”

“But remember, 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.  Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.  They’re there to stop the other people. “

“Brick walls are there for a reason.  And once you get over them — even if someone has practically had to throw you over — it can be helpful to others to tell them how you did it.”


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2 Responses to “Book Report: The Last Lecture”

  1. Psychic Advice Says:

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  2. Bookmarks about Nerd Says:

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