Dying professor’s words to live by …

I’m just back from dinner with three very close friends, KenP, PeterT and PeterC, in a sort of “guys night out” evening. Over drinks, we started talking about various inspiring experiences that might be relevant to entrepreneurs who are out there, fighting the good fight, and they pointed me towards this “last lecture” by Dr. Randy Pausch, a Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie-Mellon, who is dying of pancreatic cancer.

Take a few minutes to look at this video segment. It’s worth it. His topic is about achieving your childhood dreams, but the words of wisdom that he imparts are essentially about how to live life, how to overcome adversity and how to take every opportunity to make choices and live the right way.

He brings out a couple of major themes in his lecture. It struck me that these are as good a set of principles as any that I’ve seen, to build a great company culture around …

  • “Experience is what you get, when you don’t get what you want.”
  • “Brick walls that are in our way, are there for a reason. They are not there to keep us out .. they are there to give us a way to show, how much we want it. “
  • “Choose to have fun and a sense of wonderment, all the time … “
  • “People are always more important than Things.”
  • “Live with integrity … simple advice that is hard to follow — just tell the truth. When you screw up, just apologize, with sincerity. “I’m sorry, It was my fault, How do I make it right?”. “
  • “Sooner or later, you will encounter people that you don’t like, or you have a bad experience with. No one is pure evil. If you wait long enough, they will show you their good side. Be patient, and seek it out. “
  • “Show gratitude. It’s a simple thing — and a very powerful thing. “
  • “Complaining and whining does not solve anything. You can choose how you spend finite time, energy and effort. By complaining and wallowing, or by choosing to play the game hard. It’s your choice. Make the choice. “
  • “If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you. “

Like many real wisdoms in life, they can be applied universally to business, family, relationships and yourself, and remain equally relevant and valuable.


  • Dr. Randy Pausch died from pancreatic cancer at his family’s home in Chesapeake, Virginia on July 25, 2008, having moved there so that his wife and children would be near family after his death. He is survived by his wife Jai, and their three children, Dylan, Logan and Chloe. RIP.

  • Almost a year later, I am reading this. Part chance, part curiosity, part ambition brought me here. Having watched this for the first time and subsequently reading the final outcome, I am filled with an inspirational sadness.Live your dreams is a damn good philosophy!I had two key dreams growing up. 1) Own a Toys-R-Us so that I could play with every toy possible and 2) Own a house with every science fiction gadget imaginable, from automatic food makers to computers that controlled every function down to spelling out the grocery list.My fortune is half chance half sweat. Inspiration like Dr. Pausch reminds me I need more sweat than chance in achieving my dreams. Thanks Yung! Your charisma is a warm hot chocolate in cold times.

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