My favourite quotes from Randy Pausch (a professor of computer science and human-computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University)’s The Last Lecture – Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams (video):
We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.
Have something to bring to the table, because that will make you more welcome.
I probably got more from that dream and not accomplishing it than I got from any of the ones that I did accomplish.
You’ve got to get the fundamentals down because otherwise the fancy stuff isn’t going to work.
When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a very bad place to be. Your critics are your ones telling you they still love you and care.
Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
Head fake learning is absolutely important, and you should keep your eye out for them because they’re everywhere.
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.
It’s pretty easy to be smart when you’re parroting smart people.
It’s very important to know when you’re in a pissing match. And it’s very important to get out of it as quickly as possible.
Until you got ice cream spilled on you, you’re not doing field work.
I can’t tell you beforehand, but right before they present it I can tell you if the world (his students project work) is good by the body language. If they’re standing close to each other, the world is good.
If you’re going to do anything that pioneering you will get those arrows in the back, and you just have to put up with it. I mean everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
Somewhere along the way there’s got to be some aspect of what lets you get to achieve your dreams. First one is the role of parents, mentors, and students.
And he (Andy Van Dam) said, Randy, it’s such a shame that people perceive you as so arrogant. Because it’s going to limit what you’re going to be able to accomplish in life.
You just have to decide if you’re a Tigger or an Eeyore.
I have a theory that people who come from large families are better people because they’ve just had to learn to get along.
Loyalty is a two way street.
Syl said, it took me a long time but I’ve finally figured it out. When it comes to men that are romantically interested in you, it’s really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do. It’s that simple. It’s that easy.
You can’t get there alone. People have to help you and I do believe in karma. I believe in paybacks. You get people to help you by telling the truth. Being earnest.
I’ll take an earnest person over a hip person every day, because hip is short term. Earnest is long term.
Apologise when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself.
Don’t bail. The best of the gold’s at the bottom of barrels of crap.
Get a feedback loop and listen to it. Your feedback loop can be this dorky spreadsheet thing I did, or it can just be one great man who tells you what you need to hear. The hard part is the listening to it.
Don’t complain. Just work harder. That’s a picture of Jackie Robinson. It was in his contract not to complain, even when the fans spit on him.
Be good at something, it makes you valuable.
Find the best in everybody. Just keep waiting no matter how long it takes. No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side, just keep waiting, it will come out.
Be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.
It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.
I think the most important message from his lecture is that leading your life the right way is never just about you, it’s about you and the people around you.
The way Randy passionately talked about life reminds me of Roberto Benigni’s character in Life is Beautiful, albeit a slightly more arrogant version :).
Update (26/07/2008): I checked my blog comment alerts this morning, and learnt that Randy just passed away. In my mind, I had always hoped that he would beat the cancer… somehow. Rest in peace, Randy. Our thoughts are with your family and friends.