The Last Lecture


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  • ISBN: 978-1401323257
  • My Rating: 10/10

My notes

Engineering isn't about perfect solutions; it's about doing the best you can with limited resources.

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?

If you can dream it, you can do it.

Walt Disney

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.

If you have a question, then find the answer.

If you dispense your own wisdom, others often dismiss it; if you offer wisdom from a third party, it seems less arrogant and more acceptable.

Never make a decision until you have to.

Just because you're in the driver's seat doesn't mean you have to run people over.

It's important to have specific dreams.

Have something to bring to the table, because that will make you more welcome.

You've got to get the fundamentals down, because otherwise the fancy stuff is not going to work.

When you're screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they've given up on you.

When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody's bothering to tell you anymore, that's a bad place to be. You may not want to hear it, but your critics are often the ones telling you they still love you and care about you, and want to make you better.

If I work hard enough, there will be things I can do tomorrow that I can't do today.

The brick walls are there for a reason. They're not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.

It's easy to look smart when you're parroting smart people.

People are more important than things.

The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the other people.

You don't repair things if they still do what they're supposed to do.

No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse. At the same time, it is often within your power to make them better.

Time must be explicitly managed, like money.

Urging students not to invest time on irrelevant details, I'd tell them: "It doesn't matter how well you polish the underside of the banister."

You can always change your plan, but only if you have one.

The most useful to-do list breaks tasks into small steps.

Ask yourself: Are you spending your time on the right things? You may have causes, goals, interests. Are they even worth pursuing?

It's not a real vacation if you're reading email.

Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think.

The only way any of us can improve is if we develop a real ability to assess ourselves. If we can't accurately do that, how can we tell if we're getting better or worse?

It's a thrill to fulfill your own childhood dreams, but as you get older, you may find that enabling the dreams of others is even more fun.

I'm a scientist who sees inspiration as the ultimate tool for doing good.

The fact that fashion goes out of fashion and then comes back into fashion based solely on what a few people somewhere think they can sell, well to me, that's insanity.

You buy new clothes when your old clothes wear out.

Don't complain, just work harder.

Too many people go through life complaining about their problems. I've always believed that if you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you'd be surprised by how well things can work out.

Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won't make us happier.

Treat the disease, not the symptom.

Don't obsess over what people think.

"You don't ever have to worry about what I'm thinking. Good or bad, I'll let you know what's in my head."

You can almost always find something in common with another person, and from there, it's much easier to address issues where you have differences.

Talking louder or faster doesn't make your idea any better.

Look for the best in everybody.

If you wait long enough, people will surprise and impress you.

Jon Snoddy

When you're frustrated with people, when they've made you angry, it just may be because you haven't given them enough time.

Watch what they do, not what they say.

Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.

Failure is not just acceptable, it's often essential.

The person who failed often know how to avoid future failures. The person who knows only success can be more oblivious to all the pitfalls.

Experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.

When we make something hard to use, people get upset. They become so angry that they want to destroy it. We don't want to create things that people will want to destroy.

Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.

The best shortcut is the long way, which is basically two words: work hard.

Go out and do for others what somebody did for you.

One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose. There are a lot of things I don't worry about because I have a plan in place if they do.

When you go into the wilderness, the only thing you can count on is what you take with you.

Halfhearted or insincere apologies are often worse than not apologizing at all because recipients find them insulting. If you've done something wrong in your dealings with another person, it's as if there's an infection in your relationship. A good apology is like an antibiotic; a bad apology is like rubbing salt in the wound.

Proper apologies have three parts: 1) What I did was wrong. 2) I feel badly that I hurt you. 3) How do I make this better?

Tell the truth. All the time.

There is more than one way to measure profits and losses. On every level, institutions can and should have a heart.

If you want something bad enough, never give up (and take a boost when offered).

Brick walls are there for a reason. And once you get over them ‐ even if someone has practically had to throw you over ‐ it can be helpful to others to tell them how you did it.

Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.