Life and Spiritual Coaching

August 2, 2008

Very Sad News – The Last Lecture Randy Pausch Died

Filed under: Life,Sadnesss — by Donna Ritter @ 4:04 pm
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We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”
–Randy Pausch


This remarkable man who wrote this book died. I for one, am very sad, but I know he is in a better place.

A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.” Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave–“Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”–wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

Questions for Randy Pausch

We were shy about barging in on Randy Pausch’s valuable time to ask him a few questions about his expansion of his famous Last Lecture into the book by the same name, but he was gracious enough to take a moment to answer. (See Randy to the right with his kids, Dylan, Logan, and Chloe.) As anyone who has watched the lecture or read the book will understand, the really crucial question is the last one, and we weren’t surprised to learn that the “secret” to winning giant stuffed animals on the midway, like most anything else, is sheer persistence. I apologize for asking a question you must get far more often than you’d like, but how are you feeling?

Pausch: The tumors are not yet large enough to affect my health, so all the problems are related to the chemotherapy. I have neuropathy (numbness in fingers and toes), and varying degrees of GI discomfort, mild nausea, and fatigue. Occasionally I have an unusually bad reaction to a chemo infusion (last week, I spiked a 103 fever), but all of this is a small price to pay for walkin’ around. Your lecture at Carnegie Mellon has reached millions of people, but even with the short time you apparently have, you wanted to write a book. What did you want to say in a book that you weren’t able to say in the lecture?

Pausch: Well, the lecture was written quickly–in under a week. And it was time-limited. I had a great six-hour lecture I could give, but I suspect it would have been less popular at that length ;-).

A book allows me to cover many, many more stories from my life and the attendant lessons I hope my kids can take from them. Also, much of my lecture at Carnegie Mellon focused on the professional side of my life–my students, colleagues and career. The book is a far more personal look at my childhood dreams and all the lessons I’ve learned. Putting words on paper, I’ve found, was a better way for me to share all the yearnings I have regarding my wife, children and other loved ones. I knew I couldn’t have gone into those subjects on stage without getting emotional. You talk about the importance–and the possibility!–of following your childhood dreams, and of keeping that childlike sense of wonder. But are there things you didn’t learn until you were a grownup that helped you do that?

Pausch: That’s a great question. I think the most important thing I learned as I grew older was that you can’t get anywhere without help. That means people have to want to help you, and that begs the question: What kind of person do other people seem to want to help? That strikes me as a pretty good operational answer to the existential question: “What kind of person should you try to be?” One of the things that struck me most about your talk was how many other people you talked about. You made me want to meet them and work with them–and believe me, I wouldn’t make much of a computer scientist. Do you think the people you’ve brought together will be your legacy as well?

Pausch: Like any teacher, my students are my biggest professional legacy. I’d like to think that the people I’ve crossed paths with have learned something from me, and I know I learned a great deal from them, for which I am very grateful. Certainly, I’ve dedicated a lot of my teaching to helping young folks realize how they need to be able to work with other people–especially other people who are very different from themselves.

See his Last Lecture on YouTube

Finding a Job in this Economy

Filed under: career — by Donna Ritter @ 3:34 pm

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, you may feel as if finding a new job seems hopeless. The company you worked for may no longer exist. Your whole community may have been swept away. You are separated from your friends, family, and co-workers. You’ve relocated to a new city and don’t know anyone there. How do you start looking for a new job from this place?

It may feel like you’ll never recover from this disaster and find employment, but there is hope, and there is a way. Career experts agree that using your network of personal and professional relationships is the fastest and most effective way to locate a new job. It’s true that you may be able to find openings through Internet job postings and newspaper want ads, or by working with agencies or recruiters. But you’ll be competing with lots of other job seekers applying for the same positions.

Statistics show that more people ultimately get hired as the result of a referral or lead from a friend, relative, or professional colleague than by any other method. This is where your network comes in. Your network is a community from which you can find out about open positions, companies that need your expertise, and well-connected people who can assist your job search. People like to help other people. And, in your current situation, there are so many people who are ready to help.

How can you build a network like this from scratch when you’ve never done it before, or you’ve lost touch with everyone you knew? Here are some suggestions for creating a community of people who can assist you in this great time of need.


Ask for help. Many people want to do something to help hurricane evacuees. Give them the chance to make a contribution. Identify yourself as a Katrina survivor in your conversations with new people, and ask if they will help you find work.

Stretch outside your comfort zone. Speaking with new people and asking for help may be uncomfortable for you. This is a time to stretch yourself. You can learn new skills now that will serve you for the rest of your career.

Be open to new ideas and possibilities. Instead of hearing an idea and saying “that won’t work for me,” ask instead, “How can I make this work?” Almost every new idea has some element that can help you.


Join an affinity group in your new location. People like to help others who share their interests. Find a community group, church, sports team, or hobby club where you can make new friends quickly because you have something in common. Meet the parents of your children’s new friends at school. Your kids may have an easier time than you of making new friends quickly. Ask them to introduce you to the families they get to know.

Attend the local school’s theatrical, music, and sporting events. You’ll meet the active parent community and make connections with local business owners.

Volunteer for a relief organization. So much help is needed and you will make many local connections with both the organizers and other workers.

Work for a temp agency. Don’t worry if the available jobs are below your level of qualifications. Working for local businesses will connect you with the community.

Visit the local Chamber of Commerce. Ask for their welcome package and to speak with one of their welcoming committee members or Ambassadors. These are often community leaders who know a lot about local businesses.

Attend meetings of service clubs. Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions Club, and other local groups have community service as their charter. Many members are business owners or well connected in the area.

Join a job search club. These are sponsored by the Unemployment or Workforce Development office, Chamber of Commerce, Experience Unlimited chapter, community center, or local college. Meet other job seekers and gain a support system and more connections.

Ask a librarian. They can help you find many local resources, including those not found on the Internet. While you are there, check out the upcoming events at the local library.


Ask your professional association for help. Many associations are offering extra support for Katrina survivors. Members of your association want to help those affected and don’t know how to reach them. Let them know where you are.

Write to the presidents or executives of companies you would like to work for. Tell them your story and ask if they would meet with you to share contacts or ideas. Business leaders want to help, too.

Ask your college or training school’s alumni association to send you a contact list of graduates in your new city. You have an immediate connection with anyone who went to your school.

Sign up for a local class in your specialty. You’ll have an instant community of others in your profession.

Join online discussion groups supporting job seekers and/or your profession. You can network with hundreds of people at once.


Look for old friends online. If you have lost your address book, look for friends and family outside the disaster area using the online white pages via Yahoo! or Google. To find those who have had to re-locate, try one of the many web sites which are re-connecting Katrina evacuees. Type “Katrina survivor metasearch” into Google or Yahoo to find sites where you can search many databases at once.

Trust the postal service to forward mail even if the address no longer exists. The U.S. Postal Service is working hard to forward all mail from the disaster area. Be sure to file a change of address for your own residence so friends and family can find you, too.

Ask friends and family not affected by the storm to contact their networks and ask for help reconnecting you in your new city. People you already know may have contacts in your new location who can help.


Every time you meet a new person or re-connect with an old friend, be specific about exactly how they can best help you find work. Telling people, “Keep me in mind if you hear of any openings,” is a start. But a better approach is to say, “I’m looking for a job as a … bookkeeper in the Houston area… waitress in the Midtown neighborhood… project manager in the construction industry.” Then ask, “Do you know anyone in that area or line of work I could talk to?” That way you will continue to expand your network.

Copyright © 2005, Frank Traditi & C.J. Hayden

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