A Great Outside Voice Passes

Posted by: Jena McGregor on July 25, 2008

Last Christmas, one of my editors stopped by my desk just before the holiday. We talked through what I was working on, what our holiday plans were, the usual small desk-side small talk. Before leaving, he nonchalantly told me to Google “Randy Pausch” and “last lecture.”

Over the holiday, I had a chance to watch the YouTube video, which has now been converted into a book that’s been translated into 30 languages, viewed millions of times across the globe, and turned a Carnegie Mellon computer science professor named Randy Pausch, who died today at the age of 47 of complications from pancreatic cancer, into a worldwide phenomenon.

But even before he became famous for his “last lecture,” Pausch drew crowds for his lectures on time management, which he has said he’s most proud of. It reveals tips on multitasking, efficiently dealing with e-mail, and some of his own secrets, like standing up while talking on the phone to keep from talking too long.

For many, Pausch’s lectures are a thought-provoking reminder that business and workplace lessons can come from anywhere, including a computer science professor. His ideas are especially powerful for leaders in the workplace not just because of his unique perspective as a man dying from pancreatic cancer, but because his voice comes from outside the day-to-day world of business.

But what made Pausch’s lectures more powerful than anything was how readily they were passed along to others, as my editor did, and as millions of others did to people they hoped would listen. If you haven’t yet viewed Pausch’s words, take time to watch it today. And then, tell someone you know to search “Randy Pausch” and “last lecture.”

Reader Comments

Cindy Ajay

July 25, 2008 5:15 PM

I heard the announcement of Randy Paush's death this morning on Good Morning America. I personally did not know him but I watched and listened to his Last Lecture and read his book. He was a most inspiring person and I will remember him always.

Janice Peterson

July 25, 2008 6:23 PM

Just finished his book a couple of days ago. Wow! His book had a lot of very small suggestions that I will use to make huge changes in my life for the better. How selfless of Randy Pausch to share so much with strangers and to help so many others in his time of need.
My heart goes out to his family...

Wally Bock

July 29, 2008 2:53 PM

Wonderful post, with a special twist. Thanks.

Two things strike me as especially fascinating. First that those time management and other tips would not have had as wide an audience as they have now if Dr. Paush had not contracted pancreatic cancer and given his "last lecture"

Without some of the original media pickups many would not have heard about the lecture and without the net it would never have spread or been seen by as many.

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