Monday, July 28, 2008

100 Business Days Out: Day 79 - Randy Pausch

The day after Tim Russert died, I stopped and reflected on him. The same should be done for Randy Pausch after his death on Friday. I never knew Tim Russert, although I felt like I did on TV. When he died unexpectedly, it came as a shock to the country (and world) and tributes poured in from all over. His death sent waves through me and others that I know as we have talked about him a number of times since his death. I did know Randy Pausch. I was a part of the team who brought him to EA where he spent his last sabbatical time doing research for us on what would be the best course curriculum on how to teach someone to make videogames. In his "Last Lecture" he mentions about how after a few days at EA someone came in and told him that EA had made a decision to make a large donation to another university to fund their game development program (USC). That person was me. I remember distinctly how Randy handled that conversation. He was not happy. He was mad. But he was not angry. What I mean about that difference was that he channeled his emotions and immediately began putting to work what he could do to make the situation different. In a manner of minutes he had planned how he and I should go meet with the President of Carnegie-Mellon for me to explain the situation (the situation being that we/he didn't want to be pulled back to CMU because the university officials would think that he is wasting his time at EA) and what EA could still do with CMU in the future. Later we did take that trip and it was a good meeting and one that did lead to other ventures with CMU and EA, and saved face for Randy. What was so striking to me when I first say Randy's Last Lecture (and the subsequent global outpouring that he received) was that he approached his death just like he did our meeting of bad news. He got mad, not angry, and then accepted it and channeled the energy into doing something better to change the course. In his death (or last celebration days of life) he touched many many people around the world. People who never knew him, but felt like they did now. He was a remarkable man. And, like Tim Russert, for how human understanding of how things are supposed to work, was taken too soon. But, one never knows what they are put here for and sometimes may never know. For like Tim and Randy, it is in their deaths that so many others have learned so much and will likely live their own lives to a fuller degree because of the way they closed the last chapter of their own lives. Both premature, but both chocked full of life lessons and examples for others to follow long after they are gone. Thank you Randy Pausch for being who you were. I am better and proud to have known you.

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