Inspiring Lessons from 'The Last Lecture'

By Jeffrey Zaslow

At Randy Pausch’s last lecture, I sat in the second row, watching him fill the stage with a visceral love of life and an unbounded enthusiasm. Like the 400 others in the audience, I knew I was seeing something remarkable. This dying man was the most alive person in the room. I had come to Carnegie Mellon that day because I write a column about life transitions for The Wall Street Journal--and I thought Randy’s story might be worth telling. I never expected--nor did Randy--that his lecture would spread on the internet, becoming a worldwide phenomenon. On tens of thousands of websites, people were soon writing about how he inspired them. Many compared his talk to Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man Alive” speech.

Randy was asked to expand his lecture into a book. Given that his time was precious, and he wanted to spend most of it with his three children, he asked me to be his coauthor. Each day, he rode his bike, getting exercise crucial to his health. Those were times he couldn’t be with his kids anyway. During 53 long bike rides, he talked to me on his cell-phone headset, while I sat at my office desk, tapping away. Those 53 "lectures" became the book "The Last Lecture," which now has 4 million copies in print in the U.S., and has been translated into 38 languages. I am grateful that I got to see Randy's love of life up close. It's an honor to share some of his favorite life lessons in the gallery that follows.

Click on Randy Pausch's First Lesson... 

Jeffrey Zaslow is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and co-author with Randy Pausch of 'The Last Lecture.' Reach him at thelastlecture.com .

Photo courtesy of the Pausch family collection

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