Monday, October 28, 2013

Randy Pausch: The Strange Outlier

I actually had no idea who Randy Pausch was until the day we were assigned this. I found him on a website that had the top 10 most inspirational people of all time. Even then, the brief summary that told me how he "brought childhood dreams to life" and "inspired thousand" didn't really convince me he was an outlier. That is until I read his book, The Last Lecture. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had about 10 tumors on his pancreas. He had merely 4-6 months of good health left. He has 3 children with his wife Jai Pausch.  He's a strange outlier. What makes him strange is that he realizes his opportunities and his luck and he creatively crafts into a lecture .He talks about how he won the "parent lottery".  In the book Outliers this is what we learn as concerted cultivation.  He talks about how he had parents that opened him to knowledge and information, and that's majorly why became what he is today. In one specific quote he captures a perfect example of concerted cultivation "The instinct in our house was never to sit around like slobs and wonder. We knew a better way: open the encyclopedia, open the dictionary, open your mind. " Although this can be arguable it shows the way his parents influenced his learning.Randy Pausch mentions that his parents always bought the world books every year. He would spend hours reading them, intrigued by the endless articles and countless stories. I believe this is where he first was supplemented and later improved his analytical intelligence. His creativity was also provoked by his parents at a young age. Halfway through high school, he asked his parents if he could paint his walls. He wanted to splash his imagination onto them and painted an elevator with 30 floors and the quadratic formula and a rocket ship. Any other parent would be worried about the resale value of the house but not his. He later said this is what him led him to take part in a Disney Virtual Reality Project. He became a disney imagineer and got to help make it.  He was open minded just like his parents. He did something in his childhood that most of us are too stubborn to do. He accepted and pulled from others ideas. If you really think about it, most of us will firstly barely listen to one of our peers ideas and going to the point we actually pull and create from that idea is almost non-existent. We are a lot more opinionated then we realize. We maybe open to a higher authority ideas but do we really listen to our peers, our equals? One of the quotes from The Last Lecture ingeniously tells us how Randy Pausch could trick his peers into being open to his ideas and thoughts. "If you dispense your own wisdom, others dismiss it: if you offer wisdom from a 3rd party, it seems less arrogant and more acceptable". This quality and talent is one of the factors in why he is an outlier. I also can classify this quality of his, as practical intelligence.
Of course all these things contributed to him being an outlier but the major things that sets him apart from the rest is obviously his actual last lecture. As I watched his lecture, the liveliness and tone of him could have not been better. Knowing you only had months to live, how would you react? He explains how he had achieved his childhood dreams. The tiny ones that we forgot about. The dream of when I would be tall enough to ride a roller coaster (although I barely am at the minimum height allowed now) or the dream of when I would lose all my baby teeth. He talks about all the things we had already subconsciously achieved and then goes on to his adulthood in where he was able to take his dreams further. Its that recognition he showed to all his work that really impressed me. We tend to forget all the work we do before reaching even the smaller goals. In the modern day, we are so busy and  we don't take the time to step back and realize how far we have come.And all the appreciation he showed to his past. That's what made him an outlier.


  1. This is such a thorough analysis of Mr. Pausch as an outlier. I am so glad that you happened upon him and his story. What a legacy.

    1. He made me realize a lot. It was an amazing book! I'll return it on Tuesday!