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Quotes From Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture

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.

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82 Comments

  1. nick allaby

    Me and my classmates are reading Randys book it is a truly insperational book to all of us , it has changed my life

  2. Stephen

    I was truly inspired by Randy’s book and Last Lecture video. He has shown me to presevere through life even when life gets rough. My favorite quote by him had to be the brick wall quote, because every time I am in a difficult or nervous situation I think of that quote and it helps me get through it. Thank you Randy for the inpiration your book and video has brought not, only into my life, but millions of peoples lives.

  3. Randy Paush has been a major motivational factor in my life. When the faith tank ran shallow listening to his lecture helps to restore faith! He was most definitely a gift from God.

  4. Pingback: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch « Isolated Portal

  5. srinivas

    He changed me..the lessons that i have learned from him is something that no professor has ever thought me.

  6. Natasha

    The quote “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.” reminds me of Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter. R.I.P.

  7. Brooke Elder

    Ohh dear!!! I can honestly say, I have never read a book like his!!! It has changed my life forever! I will be looking back at this book for the rest of my life trying to live right. I only regret not reading this book sooner and being able to meet him in person!!! He was a genius and a great man!
    I’m a senior in high school and I have never looked up to person this much in my life as I look up to Randy. <3 =]

  8. Amy Magana

    “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” The quote says it all. You get experience in every thing you do. If your doing something you want you still get experience, it just doesn’t feel like it. If it something you didn’t want, you still learn from it. Nothing is a waste of your time if you look at it from an educational perspective.

  9. anonymous

    ” 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.”

    what if you have no one around you…

  10. Pingback: RANDY PAUSCH | Helena's Blog

  11. baran

    Hi everyone
    Can you just tell me how this book has inspired you and your life please?
    Many Thanks

  12. anusha

    you missed the best one
    ” if there’s an elephant in the room, introduce him”

  13. Evan Luna

    16 Jan 11, I just watched the “Last Lecture.” It was inspirational and heartwarming at the same time. I have faith that his message will live on. One quote that sticks with me from his Last Lecture was “Freedom means you have nothing left to loose.” Im at rock bottom, Thank u Randy for the strength/inspiration!

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  15. Hasseena Yassin

    Every time something goes wrong in my life, I read this book and my hope and faith is restored. When I was down and under there was no way of surviving I took his words with me, thank you for being an inspiration and for saving my life.

  16. Ayesha Rasheed

    very inspirational and has me realize there is still some light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you Randy

  17. Ben

    I am not normally an emotional guy when it comes to reading books. But this one has such relevance in my life, I couldn’t hold myself back. Like Randy, I don’t see it as morose at all. I’m emotional because my imagination and ambition is running wild and it’s incredible!!!

  18. Pingback: Quotes From Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture | edwardxwu.com

  19. anonymous

    I really enjoyed both the last lecture and the book. I don’t think that theres anyone that I look up to more than Randy. We read his book in my Religion class and we’re writing our own last lecture essays, but no body will inspire me more than Randy did.

  20. Pingback: Jer's Life » Inspirational Quotes

  21. Pingback: Randy Pausch: The Wall That Keeps Everyone Else Out « CashFlowsToo.com

  22. Awesome post. I love what you have put out here. It is truly inspirational. I wish you continued success. I actually linked to you in a post on my site. I hope you get a chance to stop by as see it on http://casflowstoo.com

    I wish you continued success.
    God bless.

  23. Amy

    Truly awesome! I will share it with my boys who lost their father at 4&5 they are 8&9 now. What a gift he left this world. Inspiration and hope! Remember, get out of the pissing match as soon as possible! Always get the fundamentals down before you do anything! My grandmother taught me that one…Loyalty is a two way street! Do the right thing and good stuff has a way of coming back to it, and LUCK, is when preparation meets opportunity…Thank you Randy for sharing your wisdom.

  24. I love posts like this one. Always remind me to give thanks for the life I hvae.

  25. Carly Cook

    This really inspired me to not take things for granted. The little things in life dont mean so much as if it has a bigger meaning to it!

  26. Ashli

    Randy is truely inspiring and this book is the best book ever

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