Death is a never an easy topic for anyone to discuss. More so when one has a young family,at the peak of his/her career and is laden with so many dreams. The late Prof Randy Pausch had clearly come to terms with the fact that he had late stage pancreatic cancer despite having all of the above. The best way that he knew how to handle his condition was to talk about it. This eventually led to him giving The Last Lecture where in his words he says that he was forced to cram his life in a laptop. Here are a couple of nuggets from his bestseller that I related to:
Geeks are definitely cool
Randy’s love for knowledge stemmed from his parents who encouraged him and his sister to read by having encyclopaedia contests at the dinner table. This led him to have great dreams (and actually achieving them) about one day contributing to the same encyclopaedia and even becoming a Disney Imagineer. I think that geeks like Randy are under appreciated because we fail to see the hard work that goes into developing modern day conveniences.
The first time I touched an iPad, I was incomplete awe. It’s surreal how far technology has come and how many man hours were put into developing such a beautiful device that downloads tons of information at the touch of an icon. I am incredibly grateful for geeks like the Randy Pausch and Steve Jobs. Let me say this again: Geeks rule!
The Friday Night Solution
Simply put, be willing to go the extra mile including working long hours especially when you could be painting the town red. I have branded one of my really close friends, a workaholic because sometimes we can plan a simple date for weeks on end. I have come to understand him (really, I have!) and appreciate what he does.Truthfully, I admire his drive. I am glad that the job he does has a direct impact in other young people’s lives.
Send out the Thin Mints
I hate making follow ups because I feel like nag. Experience has taught me that it’s a necessary evil. Randy explained that as an academic reviewer, he had to ask other professors to review research papers. So, he used to attach a pack of Girl Scout Thin Mints to every paper that need reviewing with a note that read “Thank you for agreeing to do this. The enclosed Thin Mints are your reward. But no fair eating until you review the paper.” I think this is a great way of getting a certain message across. Maybe I could adopt a similar system…what would you prefer, jelly beans or éclairs?
The Lost Aart of Thank-you Notes
This is a personal favourite because I love stationery. One of the things that I miss about high school is getting hand written notes and pass-it-on cards from my friends and deskmates during prep time. How can I forget letters from the boy school across the valley? With the advent of social media, I am learning to become more content with being poked, having writings on my wall and being inboxed (is that even a verb?).
Handwritten notes are way more personal and they communicate to the recipient, “You are important to me and I would like to take my precious time to express how feel about you or something that you did for me”. Please invest in some good but not-necessarily expensive stationery and appreciate someone.
Having a Dutch Uncle
I got really green-eyed when Randy spoke about his mentor Andy Van Dam from his alma mater, Brown University. They seemed to have quite an open relationship; he could easily share his issues from applying to grad school to how to handle his own students when he eventually became a professor. Having someone who believes in you and is able to show you tough love when the situation calls for it, is pretty awesome. Please note that there’s need to differentiate amongst coaching , mentorship and sponsporship.
Get In Touch With Your Coloured Crayons
Randy talks about his love for black and white crayons and maybe that’s why he used to tell-it-like it is. I read in All I Needed to Know, I Learnt in Kindergarten by Robert Fulgham, that it helps you get in touch with your inner child. Just like Randy, every time I get a whiff of crayola, I reminisce about the good old carefree days (no bills, mummy and daddy to bail me out, minimal homework, more playtime…pure bliss!) and how I enjoyed shading in various pictures. Even though I am only qualified to draw stickmen, I will take my time to illustrate my zany ideas or future plans with a pack of crayola or coloured pencils.
I would have liked to have met Randy because he seems like the kinda person that you would invite home for dinner. As I flipped through the pages, I got to reflect on his nuggets of wisdom through his quirkiness. I hope that when it’s my turn to kick bucket, I hope that I get to leave a mark in someone’s life and that my family and friends will remember how important they were to me.