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Check out more psychology lessons and ideas.
The Last Lecture is a great speech and book. Below are some of the themes discussed in the book. The following excerpts were taken directly from the speech. (I apologize if there are any typos. Please contact me if you find any.)
It is not all about SAT scores and school grades! But it can be (about SATs and grades – if it is a result of LEARNING)
Randy earned his undergraduate degree in Computer Science at Brown University in 1982. His Ph.D. in CS from Carnegie Mellon in 1988 and taught at the University of Virginia where he was granted tenure a year early. He joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 1997 with appointments in the CS, HCI, and Design departments.
With Don Marinelli, he founded the Entertainment Technology Center, which quickly became the gold standard organization for training artists and engineers to work together. It is my view and the view of our company, Electronic Arts, that the ETC is the interactive program by which all others in the world are judged.
Following a passion and learning
And Randy as he always does, for those of you who know him well, wanted to learn more, with his own eyes, about how the games business works, and how games really got made. So he spent a summer in residence at EA, and I was his primary contact point.
Values and core beliefs
And we developed a deep friendship woven together with stories about our kids, our wives, our parents, as well as deep discussions about the paramount nature of integrity in everything you do, family first, religion, our shared joy in connecting people and ideas, and deploying money and influence to do good. And the importance of having a lot of laughs along the way.
Randy’s dedication to making the world a better place is self evident to anyone who has crossed paths with him. Whether it’s directly influencing students, creating organizations like the ETC, building tools like Alice or doing what he probably does best, which is bridging cultures. As Ben Gordon, EA’s Chief Creative Officer, says of Randy, even more important than Randy’s academic, philanthropic, and entrepreneurial accomplishments has been his humanity and the enthusiasm he brings to students and coworkers on a daily basis.
Making the best of a situation
For those of you who know Randy, Randy brings a particular zest for life and humor, even while facing death. To Randy, this is simply another adventure. It is my great honor to introduce Dylan, Logan and Chloe’s dad, Jai’s husband, and my very dear friend, Dr. Randy Pausch.
Make me earn it.
It’s wonderful to be here. What Indira didn’t tell you is that this lecture series used to be called the Last Lecture. If you had one last lecture to give before you died, what would it be? I thought, damn, I finally nailed the venue and they renamed it.
Deal with reality
So, you know, in case there’s anybody who wandered in and doesn’t know the back story, my dad always taught me that when there’s an elephant in the room, introduce them. If you look at my CAT scans, there are approximately 10 tumors in my liver, and the doctors told me 3-6 months of good health left. That was a month ago, so you can do the math.
So that is what it is. We can’t change it, and we just have to decide how we’re going to respond to that. We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you.
Plan for the future
And I assure you I am not in denial. It’s not like I’m not aware of what’s going on. My family, my three kids, my wife, we just bought a lovely house in Virginia, and we’re doing that because that’s a better place for the family to be, down the road.
And we’re not going to talk about things that are even more important than achieving your childhood dreams. We’re not going to talk about my wife, we’re not talking about my kids. Because I’m good, but I’m not good enough to talk about that without tearing up.
It’s about my childhood dreams and how I have achieved them. I’ve been very fortunate that way. How I believe I’ve been able to enable the dreams of others, and to some degree, lessons learned.
Anything is possible
I was born in 1960. When you are 8 or 9 years old and you look at the TV set, men are landing on the moon, anything’s possible. And that’s something we should not lose sight of, is that the inspiration and the permission to dream is huge.
So what were my childhood dreams? You may not agree with this list, but I was there.
Being in zero gravity
Playing in the National Football League
Authoring an article in the World Book Encyclopedia
Being Captain Kirk
I wanted to become one of the guys who won the big stuffed animals in the amusement park, and I wanted to be an Imagineer with Disney.
OK, so being in zero gravity. Now it’s important to have specific dreams…it turns out that NASA has something called the Vomit Comet that they used to train the astronauts. and you get about, a rough equivalent of weightlessness for about 25 seconds. And there is a program where college students can submit proposals and if they win the competition, they get to fly.
And then I hit the first brick wall, because they made it very clear that under no circumstances were faculty members allowed to fly with the teams. And so I read the literature very carefully and it turns out that NASA, it’s part of their outreach and publicity program, and it turns out that the students were allowed to bring a local media journalist from their home town. And, Randy Pausch, web journalist. It’s really easy to get a press pass!
Bring something to the table
So, indeed, we kept our end of the bargain, and that’s one of the themes that you’ll hear later on in the talk, is have something to bring to the table, right, because that will make you more welcome.
OK, let’s talk about football. My dream was to play in the National Football League. No, I did not make it to the National Football League, but I probably got more from that dream and not accomplishing it than I got from any of the ones that I did accomplish.
I had a coach, I signed up when I was nine years old. I was the smallest kid in the league, by far. And I had a coach, Jim Graham, who was six-foot-four, he had played linebacker at Penn State. He was just this hulk of a guy and he was old school. And I mean really old school.
And he showed up for practice the first day, and you know, there’s big hulking guy, we were all scared to death of him. And he hadn’t brought any footballs. How are we going to have practice without any footballs? And one of the other kids said, excuse me coach, but there’s no football. And Coach Graham said, right, how many men are on a football field at a time? Eleven on a team, twenty-two. Coach Graham said, all right, and how many people are touching the football at any given time? One of them. And he said, right, so we’re going to work on what those other twenty-one guys are doing.
And that’s a really good story because it’s all about fundamentals. Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. You’ve got to get the fundamentals down because otherwise the fancy stuff isn’t going to work.
Listen to your critics
And the other Jim Graham story I have is there was one practice where he just rode me all practice. You’re doing this wrong, you’re doing this wrong, go back and do it again, you owe me, you’re doing push-ups after practice. And when it was all over, one of the other assistant coaches came over and said, yeah, Coach Graham rode you pretty hard, didn’t he? I said, yeah. He said, that’s a good thing. He said, when you’re screwing up and nobody’s saying anything to you anymore, that means they gave up. And that’s a lesson that stuck with me my whole life. Is that 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.
After Coach Graham, I had another coach, Coach Setliff, and he taught me a lot about the power of enthusiasm. He did this one thing where only for one play at a time he would put people in at like the most horrifically wrong position for them. Like all the short guys would become receivers, right? But we only went in for one play, right? And boy, the other team just never knew what hit ‘em them. Because when you’re only doing it for one play and you’re just not where you’re supposed to be, and freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, boy are you going to clean somebody’s clock for that one play. And that kind of enthusiasm was great.
Keep your childhood passions
And to this day, I am most comfortable on a football field. I mean, it’s just one of those things where, you know, [pulls out a football] if I’m working a hard problem, people will see me wandering the halls with one of these things, and that’s just because, you know, when you do something young enough and you train for it, it just becomes a part of you. And I’m very glad that football was a part of my life. And if I didn’t get the dream of playing in the NFL, that’s OK. I’ve probably got stuff more valuable.
“Head fake” or indirect learning
OK, and so one of the expressions I learned at Electronic Arts is experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And I think that’s absolutely lovely. And the other thing about football is we send our kids out to play football or soccer or swimming or whatever it is, and it’s the first example of what I’m going to call a head fake, or indirect learning. We actually don’t want our kids to learn football. But we send our kids out to learn much more important things. Teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance, etcetera, etcetera. And these kinds of head fake learning are absolutely important. And you should keep your eye out for them because they’re everywhere.
All right. A simple one, being an author in the World Book Encyclopedia. And after I had become somewhat of an authority on virtual reality, but not like a really important one, so I was at the level of people the World Book would badger. They called me up and I wrote an article.
All right, next one. [laughter] [shows slide “Being like Meeting Captain Kirk”] At a certain point you just realize there are some things you are not going to do, so maybe you just want to stand close to the people. And I mean, my god, what a role model for young people. I mean, this is everything you want to be, and what I learned that carried me forward in leadership later is that, you know, he wasn’t the smartest guy on the ship. I mean, Spock was pretty smart and McCoy was the doctor and Scotty was the engineer. And you sort of go, and what skill set did he have to get on this damn thing and run it? And, you know, clearly there is this skill set called leadership, and whether or not you like the series, there’s no doubt that there was a lot to be learned about how to lead people by watching this guy in action.
So I got to achieve this dream. James T. Kirk, and his alter ego William Shatner, wrote a book, which I think was actually a pretty cool book. It was a book on basically the science of Star Trek, you know, what has come true. And they went around to the top places around the country and looked at various things and they came here to study our virtual reality setup. And it’s really cool to meet your boyhood idol, but it’s even cooler when he comes to you to see what cool stuff you’re doing in your lab. And that was just a great moment.
All right, my next one. Being an Imagineer. This was the hard one. Believe me, getting to zero gravity is easier than becoming an Imagineer. When I was a kid, I was eight years old and our family took a trip cross-country to see Disneyland. And there I am, and for those of you who are into foreshadowing, this is the Alice ride. [laughter] And I just thought this was just the coolest environment I had ever been in, and instead of saying, gee, I want to experience this, I said, I want to make stuff like this. And so I bided my time and then I graduated with my Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon, thinking that meant me infinitely qualified to do anything. And I dashed off my letters of applications to Walt Disney Imagineering, and they sent me some of the damned nicest go-to-hell letters I have ever gotten.
So that was a bit of a setback. 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.
Do the best you can with what you have where you are.
And a similar story is that this was just this unbelievable hit because at the time, everybody needed a half a million [dollars] to do virtual reality. And everybody felt frustrated. And we literally hacked together a system for about five thousand dollars in parts and made a working VR system.
Go for it
I’m giving this talk and the room has just gone wild, and during the Q and A, a guy named Tom Furness, who was one of the big names in virtual reality at the time, he goes up to the microphone and he introduces himself. I didn’t know what he looked like but I sure as hell knew the name. And he asked a question. And I was like, I’m sorry did you say you were Tom Furness? And he said yes. I said, then I would love to answer your question, but first, will you have lunch with me tomorrow? [laughter] And there’s a lot in that little moment, there’s a lot of humility but also asking a person where he can’t possibly say no. [laughter]
So I find myself on the phone with a guy named Jon Snoddy who is one of the most impressive guys I have ever met. We talked briefly and he sent me some stuff, and I said, hey, I’m going to be out in the area for a conference shortly, would you like to get together and have lunch? Translation: I’m going to lie to you and say that I have an excuse to be in the area so I don’t look too anxious, but I would go to Neptune to have lunch with you! [laughter]
Be prepared and use resources
And so Jon said sure, and I spent something like 80 hours talking with all the VR experts in the world, saying if you had access to this one unbelievable project, what would you ask? And then I compiled all of that and I had to memorize it. So, I went in, and this was like a two hour lunch, and Jon must have thought he was talking to some phenomenal person, because all I was doing was channeling Fred Brooks and Ivan Sutherland and Andy Van Dam and people like that. And Henry Fuchs. So it’s pretty easy to be smart when you’re parroting smart people.
Make “the ask”
And at the end of the lunch with Jon, I sort of, as we say in the business, made “the ask.” And I said, I have a sabbatical coming up. And he said, what’s that? [laughter] The beginnings of the culture clash. And so I talked with him about the possibility of coming there and working with him. And he said, well that’s really good except, you know, you’re in the business of telling people stuff and we’re in the business of keeping secrets. And then what made Jon Snoddy Jon Snoddy was he said, but we’ll work it out, which I really loved.
Wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you.
The other thing that I learned from Jon Snoddy – I could do easily an hour long talk just on what have I learned from Jon Snoddy. One of the things he told me was that wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you. He said, when you’re pissed off at somebody and you’re angry at them, you just haven’t given them enough time. Just give them a little more time and they’ll almost always impress you. And that really stuck with me. I think he’s absolutely right on that one.
Know when you are in a pissing match.
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. So I said to him, well, let’s back off on this.
It is how you say it – Dean Wormer vs. Gene Block
And I find myself in Gene Block’s office. Do you think this is a good idea? He said, well if you’re asking me if it’s a good idea, I don’t have very much information. All I know is that one of my star faculty members is in my office and he’s really excited, so tell me more. Here’s a lesson for everybody in administration. They both said the same thing. But think about how they said it, right? [In a loud, barking voice] I don’t know! [In a pleasant voice] Well, I don’t have much information, but one of my start faculty members is here and he’s all excited so I want to learn more. They’re both ways of saying I don’t know, but boy there’s a good way and a bad way.
Have your cake and eat it too (Working for Disney)
And then at the end of my six months, they came to me and they said, you want to do it for real? You can stay. And I said no. One of the only times in my life I have surprised my father. He was like, you’re what? He said, since you were, you know [gesturing to height of a child’s head],this is all you wanted, and now that you got it, and you’re… huh? They said you can have your cake and eat it too. And I basically became a day-a-week consultant for Imagineering, and I did that for about ten years.
And so those are my childhood dreams. And that’s pretty good. I felt good about that.
Enabling others – ONE person
So then the question becomes, how can I enable the childhood dreams of others. And again, boy am I glad I became a professor. What better place to enable childhood dreams? And this started in a very concrete realization that I could do this, because a young man named Tommy Burnett, when I was at the University of Virginia, came to me, was interested in joining my research group. And we talked about it, and he said, oh, and I have a childhood dream. It gets pretty easy to recognize them when they tell you. And I said, yes, Tommy, what is your childhood dream? He said, I want to work on the next Star Wars film. And Tommy worked with me for a number of years as an undergraduate and then as a staff member, and then I moved to Carnegie Mellon, every single member of my team came from Virginia to Carnegie Mellon except for Tommy because he got a better offer. And he did indeed work on all three of those films. And then I said, well that’s nice, but you know, one at a time is kind of inefficient. And people who know me know that I’m an efficiency freak. So I said, can I do this in mass? Can I get people turned in such a way that they can be turned onto their childhood dreams?
A Vision of helping many
And I created a course, I came to Carnegie Mellon and I created a course called Building Virtual Worlds. It’s a very simple course. OK, so some of you have an idea. For those of you who don’t, the course is very simple. There are 50 students drawn from all the different departments of the university. There are randomly chosen teams, four people per team, and they change every project. A project only lasts two weeks, so you do something, you make something, you show something, then I shuffle the teams, you get three new playmates and you do it again. And it’s every two weeks, and so you get five projects during the semester.
Raise the bar
The first assignment, I gave it to them, they came back in two weeks and they just blew me away. I mean the work was so beyond, literally, my imagination, because I had copied the process from Imagineering’s VR lab, but I had no idea what they could or couldn’t do with it as undergraduates, and their tools were weaker, and they came back on the first assignment, and they did something that was so spectacular that I literally didn’t, ten years as a professor and I had no idea what to do next. So I called up my mentor, and I called up Andy Van Dam. And I said, Andy, I just gave a two-week assignment, and they came back and did stuff that if I had given them a whole semester I would have given them all As. Sensei, what do I do? [laughter]
And Andy thought for a minute and he said, you go back into class tomorrow and you look them in the eye and you say, “Guys, that was pretty good, but I know you can do better.” [laughter] And that was exactly the right advice. Because what he said was, you obviously don’t know where the bar should be, and you’re only going to do them a disservice by putting it anywhere.
Share your talents / work
I’d walk into a class with 50 students in it and there were 95 people in the room. Because it was the day we were showing work. And people’s roommates and friends and parents – I’d never had parents come to class before! It was flattering and somewhat scary. And so it snowballed and we had this bizarre thing of, well we’ve got to share this. If there’s anything I’ve been raised to do, it’s to share, and I said, we’ve got to show this at the end of the semester. We’ve got to have a big show. And we booked this room, McConomy. We had people standing in the aisle. I will never forget the dean at the time, Jim Morris was sitting on the stage right about there. We had to kind of scoot him out of the way. And the energy in the room was like nothing I had ever experienced before. And President Cohen, Jerry Cohen was there, and he sensed the same thing. He later described it as like an Ohio State football pep rally. Except for academics. And he came over and he asked exactly the right question. He said, before you start, he said, where are these people from? He said, the audience, what departments are they from? And we polled them and it was all the departments. And I felt very good because I had just come to campus, he had just come to campus, and my new boss had seen in a very corporal way that this is the university that puts everybody together. And that made me feel just tremendous.
The “Hello.world” presentation (approximately 3 minutes)
What it feels like to make people get excited and happy
It gave kids a sense of excitement of putting on a show for people who were excited about it. And I think that that’s one of the best things you can give somebody – the chance to show them what it feels like to make other people get excited and happy. I mean that’s a tremendous gift.
And the course was all about bonding. People used to say, you know, what’s going to make for a good world? I said, I can’t tell you beforehand, but right before they present it I can tell you if the world’s good just by the body language. If they’re standing close to each other, the world is good.
When you try to do something great – you will have critics
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.
Synergy – working with others can make amazing results (with Don Marinelli)
We created what I would call the dream fulfillment factory. So the Entertainment Technology Center was all about artists and technologists working in small teams to make things. It was a two-year professional master’s degree. And Don and I were two kindred spirits. We’re very different – anybody who knows us knows that we are very different people. There was just so much energy and you never knew which trailer was next, right?
It was a great teamwork. I think it was a great yin and a yang, but it was more like YIN and yang. And he deserves that credit and I give it to him because the ETC is a wonderful place. And he’s now running it and he’s taking it global.
Quality work gets recognized (ETC = Singapore, Australia and Korea.)
Companies did this strange thing. They put in writing, we promise to hire your students. I’ve got the EA and Activision ones here. So there are five written agreements. And so that’s a real statement. And these are multiple year things, so they’re agreeing to hire people for summer internships that we have not admitted yet. That’s a pretty strong statement about the quality of the program. It’s really true that Carnegie Mellon
One other big success about the ETC is teaching people about feedback [“how easy to work with”] When you’re taking Building Virtual Worlds, every two weeks we get peer feedback. We put that all into a big spreadsheet and at the end of the semester, you had three teammates per project, five projects, that’s 15 data points, that’s statistically valid. And you get a bar chart telling you on a ranking of how easy you are to work with, where you stacked up against your peers. Boy that’s hard feedback to ignore. But for the most part, people looked at that and went, wow, I’ve got to take it up a notch. I better start thinking about what I’m saying to people in these meetings. And that is the best gift an educator can give is to get somebody to become self reflective.
Think Big = Alice
So the ETC was wonderful, but even the ETC and even as Don scales it around the globe, it’s still very labor intensive, you know. It’s not Tommy one-at-a-time. It’s not a research group ten at a time. It’s 50 or 100 at a time per campus times four campuses. But I wanted something infinitely scalable. Scalable to the point where millions or tens of millions of people could chase their dreams with something. So Alice is a project that we worked on for a long, long time. It’s a novel way to teach computer programming. Kids make movies and games. The head fake – again, we’re back to the head fakes. The best way to teach somebody something is to have them think they’re learning something else. I’ve done it my whole career. And the head fake here is that they’re learning to program but they just think they’re making movies and video games.
Leaving a Legacy making a difference in future generations
I, like Moses, get to see the promised land, but I won’t get to set foot in it. And that’s OK, because I can see it. And the vision is clear. Millions of kids having fun while learning something hard. That’s pretty cool. I can deal with that as a legacy.
My dad was so full of life, anything with him was an adventure. This is a dormitory in Thailand that my mom and dad underwrote. And every year about 30 students get to go to school who wouldn’t have otherwise. This is something my wife and I have also been involved in heavily. And these are the kind of things that I think everybody ought to be doing. Helping others.
But the best story I have about my dad – unfortunately my dad passed away a little over a year ago – and when we were going through his things, he had fought in World War II in the Battle of the Bulge, and when we were going through his things, we found out he had been awarded the Bronze Star for Valor. My mom didn’t know it. In 50 years of marriage it had just never come up.
Put Challenges in Perspective
I was complaining to my mother about how hard this test was and how awful it was, and she just leaned over and she patted me on the arm and she said, we know how you feel honey, and remember when your father was your age he was fighting the Germans.
Advice for parents – let kids dream and express themselves
These slides are a little bit dark, but when I was in high school I decided to paint my bedroom. [shows slides of bedroom] I always wanted a submarine and an elevator. And the great thing about this is they let me do it. And they didn’t get upset about it. And it’s still there. If you go to my parent’s house it’s still there. And anybody who is out there who is a parent, if your kids want to paint their bedroom, as a favor to me let them do it. It’ll be OK. Don’t worry about resale value on the house.
Teachers, mentors, friends, and colleagues
Andy Van Dam – I was quite an arrogant young man. And I came in to some office hours and of course it was nine o’clock at night and Andy was there at office hours. And I come bounding in and you know, I’m just I’m going to save the world. There’re all these kids waiting for help, da da, da da, da da, da da, da da. And afterwards, he put his arm around my shoulders and we went for a little walk and he 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. What a hell of a way to word “you’re being a jerk.” [laughter] Right? He doesn’t say you’re a jerk. He says people are perceiving you this way and he says the downside is it’s going to limit what you’re going to be able to accomplish.
Andy Van Dam “Become a professor.” And I said, why? And he said, because you’re such a good salesman that any company that gets you is going to use you as a salesman. And you might as well be selling something worthwhile like education. [long pause, looks directly at Andy van Dam] Thanks.
President Cohen, when I told him I was going to do this talk, he said, please tell them about having fun, because that’s what I remember you for. And I said, I can do that, but it’s kind of like a fish talking about the importance of water. I mean I don’t know how to not have fun. I’m dying and I’m having fun. And I’m going to keep having fun every day I have left. Because there’s no other way to play it.
A Tigger or an Eeyore
So my next piece of advice is, you just have to decide if you’re a Tigger or and Eeyore. [shows slide with an image of Tigger and Eeyore with the phrase “Decide if you’re Tigger or Eeyore”] I think I’m clear where I stand on the great Tigger/Eeyore debate.
We keep what we value, what we cherish
We keep what is valuable to us, what we cherish. And I’ve kept my [high school] letterman’s jacket all these years. I used to like wearing it in grad school, and one of my friends, Jessica Hodgins would say, why do you wear this letterman’s jacket? And I looked around at all the non-athletic guys around me who were much smarter than me. And I said, because I can
Loyalty is a two way street. There was a young man named Dennis Cosgrove at the University of Virginia, and when he was a young man, let’s just say things happened. And I found myself talking to a dean. Anyway, this dean really had it in for Dennis, and I could never figure out why because Dennis was a fine fellow. And I ended up basically saying, no, I vouch for Dennis. And the guy says, you’re not even tenured yet and you’re telling me you’re going to vouch for this sophomore or junior or whatever? I think he was a junior at the time. I said, yeah, I’m going to vouch for him because I believe in him.
But loyalty is a two-way street. That was god knows how many years ago, but that’s the same Dennis Cosgrove who’s carrying Alice forward. He’s been with me all these years.
Advice for young ladies (and those that would like to date them) Sharon Burks.
The best piece of advice pound-for-pound that I have ever heard. 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. And I thought back to my bachelor days and I said, damn. [laughter]
Never give up.
I didn’t get into Brown University. I was on the wait list. I called them up and they eventually decided that it was getting really annoying to have me call everyday so they let me in. At Carnegie Mellon I didn’t get into graduate school. No one knows this. ‘Til today I’m telling the story. I was declined admission to Carnegie Mellon.
Moments that change your life. HONOR vs. MONEY
And I said, well, since you admitted me, I have won a fellowship. The Office of Naval Research is a very prestigious fellowship. I’ve won this fellowship and that wasn’t in my file when I applied. And Nico said, a fellowship, money, we have plenty of money. Why do you think having a fellowship makes any difference to us? And he looked at me. There are moments that change your life. And ten years later if you know in retrospect it was one of those moments, you’re blessed. But to know it at the moment …. with Nico staring through your soul. And I said, I didn’t mean to imply anything about the money. It’s just that it was an honor. There were only 15 given nationwide. And I did think it was an honor that would be something that would be meritorious.
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.
Apologize when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself.
Celebrate (the last birthday)
See, yesterday was my wife’s birthday. If there was ever a time I might be entitled to have the focus on me, it might be the last lecture. But no, I feel very badly that my wife didn’t really get a proper birthday, and I thought it would be very nice if 500 people sang Happy…birthday to you
When you do the right thing, good stuff has a way of happening.
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. When people give you feedback, cherish it and use it.
Show gratitude. When I got tenure I took all of my research team down to Disneyworld for a week. And one of the other professors at Virginia said, how can you do that? I said these people just busted their ass and got me the best job in the world for life. How could I not do that?
Don’t complain. Just work harder. [shows slide of Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player] 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. No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side, just keep waiting, it will come out.
And be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.
So today’s talk was about my childhood dreams, enabling the dreams of others, and some lessons learned. But did you figure out the head fake? [dramatic pause] 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.
Have you figured out the second head fake? The talk’s not for you, it’s for my kids. Thank you all. Good night.
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