by Doug Ulman
I spent a long weekend reading and trying to recharge for what will be a very exciting next few months.
First, I want to be very clear about what happened last Thursday in Austin. I was honored to be recognized by the Austin Business Journal but that award is quite simply a direct result of my colleagues hard work and the energy and passion of everyone involved in our shared movement. Thank you for leading this mission with us and making these recognitions possible.
Secondly, a lot of the Olympic athletes have been wearing the yellow wristband. It has been great to see the number of yellow wristbands all over the Olympic games. What an incredible message.
This is a global movement. It may have started in Austin with our educational resource called “Livestrong.” It may have been born in combination with Nike when they decided to honor Lance in such a big public way.
But clearly now this is a movement. A global one. It means so much to so many. It is about overcoming cancer. It is about overcoming any obstacle in your life. It is about living strong. And it belongs to anyone who wants to own a part. It is therefore not the LAF’s movement. It is not Lance’s movement. It is “our” movement. We all share in the work, the committment and the results we desire. Thanks for being a part of your movement and for letting us be a part of it.
Finally, I had it put this off long enough. I planned and made a promise to myself that I would read “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch this weekend.
I read it in four hours. It was an easy read. It was personal. It hit me hard in many ways. You see I had put this off for a reason. Of course I had watched his lecture on you tube, seen clips of him on t.v. and admired from afar his efforts in D.C. to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer.
After all this time, and sadly after Randy’s passing, I needed to read it. It was hard for me to start reading it due to the similarities in our background. Let me be very clear. I don’t know Randy. I don’t know his wife Jai.
He did however grow up in Columbia, Maryland where I was born and raised. He also attended Brown University where I was fortunate enough to go to school.
I know nothing about computer science which was Randy’s area of expertise. Nothing. Although I did take a web design class my freshman year at Brown and I often think back to those days and imagine what would have happened if I had pursued a career in that field during the mid-1990’s when web design and technology start-ups were taking off. It never hurts to dream about what might have been. Luckily I wasn’t very good at web design.
I have read a ton about Andy Van Dam who was Randy’s professor at Brown and who seemingly took him under his wing and helped shape his career and his life.
The values he describes in the book are ones that ring true for me. They were taught to him by his parents. They are the values of the community in which we were raised.
There was just something about the mix of Columbia, Maryland, Brown University, and cancer. All too close to home, literally.
So after all the hemming and hawing I read the book sitting outside over the weekend. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It hit me hard. It was spot on with respect to so many things.
It made me think about the shared journey we are all on. It forced me to think about the movement he created with his speech.
Movements are not designed from scratch. Typically a movement is instigated by someone’s actions. Someone’s heroics. Someone’s stance or words. Randy Pausch started a movement after his lecture. He didn’t set out to do this. That wasn’t his goal.
He will be sorely missed but his legacy has already gone way beyond what he imagined. Our movement must grow stronger, must stay focused, and must be ultimately successful – Randy would want that.
I sure am glad I read the book.