In Memoriam: Randy Pausch, 1960-2008

The_pausch_kids If you were to list the most influential people in your life a year ago, the name 'Randy Pausch' probably wouldn't have come up.

But thanks to a series of improbable events, there are tens of millions of people whose lives have changed because of this man, who died earlier today of pancreatic cancer in Chesapeake, VA. He was 47.

Dr. Pausch and his family recently moved to Chesapeake so that his wife and children would be near family after his death. (Pictured above: Randy Pausch with his three children Dylan, Logan and Chloe.)

Most people wouldn't know what to do if they knew the end was upon them. Dr. Pausch knew he wanted to say something to his students and leave something for his three children. Dr. Pauch's valentine to his kids was a deeply moving speech on the subject of "how to live your life" and in a lecture filled with both laughter and tears, resulted in a scene that might have come out of the movie Dead Poets Society. Some of the more popular quotes from his so-called "Last Lecture" are: 

  • "...The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They are there to stop the OTHER people!"
  • "...when you see yourself doing something badly and nobody's bothering you to tell you anymore, that's a very bad place to be. Your critics are the ones telling you they still love you and care."
  • "It's not about how to achieve your dreams, it's all about leading your life. If you lead your life in a right way, karma will take care of itself. And dreams will come to you."

Dr. Pausch was not wealthy in the way that far too many people think about wealth. Instead, he dared to dream of a better life. Dr. Pausch lived that life in accordance with certain ideals, and he shared those ideals with great warmth and humor, first with his family, then with his colleagues and students, and thanks to YouTube, with the world.

After his last lecture, Dr. Pausch was named "Person of the Week" on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, became a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers for a day during their regular practice, filmed a role in the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie, and was the subject of an hour long Diane Sawyer feature.

As I write this, Carnegie-Mellon server has been brought to its knees by all of the web traffic from people who have heard of Dr. Pausch's passing and were looking for some of his last thoughts.

It is critically important to keep Dr. Pausch’s message, "to make every day matter in the fight against pancreatic cancer," moving forward. The family requests that donations on his behalf be directed to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 2141 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 7000, El Segundo, CA 90245, or to Carnegie Mellon's Randy Pausch Memorial Fund (, which primarily supports the university's continued work on the Alice project.

We will miss him.

Continue reading "In Memoriam: Randy Pausch, 1960-2008" »

In Memoriam: James Dungy, 1987 - 2005

James_dungySports Illustrated writer Peter King wrote a moving account of Tony Dungy's eulogy for his son James Dungy.

"My daughter Tiara (Dungy) said it best the other day,'' Dungy said. "She said, 'I just wish he could have made it 'til he was 20. If James could have only made it to 20, he'd have been all right. Because when you're 17 or 18 years old, you don't think everything your parents say is right. But by the time you're 20 or 21, you start thinking they were right on most things.' But he just couldn't make it to 20."

Dungy, in his polite but firm way, talked about how James struggled to keep grounded in the face of a culture that said young black men should dress, speak and conduct themselves opposite of the way Tony and his wife had taught James. He was trying to grow up, on his own, away from his mother and father, in the town in which he had spent his formative years.

Then Dungy told his team, in his first remarks to them since James' death, how proud he was of them. "You are the best role models this society could have,'' he said.

After the funeral, Dungy told the press, "The Lord's giving me an opportunity to show what my life is about,'' he said. "If I can only show my best foot forward in the good times, then I'm not a very good man.''

There are so many of us that have won the genetic lottery, a chance to make more with our lives than our forefathers ever dreamed. When the moment of decision comes -- as it must in everyone's lives -- we will learn what we are made of.

Link: Dungy Family Guest Book (via

In Memoriam: Michael "MK" Krause, 1959 - 2005

MkMy friend Michael Krause passed away in his sleep last week. Like many other creative giants, I'm not sure if he really knew what a profound effect he had on so many people's lives.

His service earlier this week was a testament to the man and his relationship with his mother. From an early age, his mother Barb gave him the confidence to be himself, no matter what. And so, as one of his friends so eloquently put it, he bought the ticket and he rode the ride. I would not know MK to do a commonplace thing, and this shone through in both his artistic talent and the quality of his personal relationships. When he did things, he did it with a grand passion and sense of joie de vivre that was, quite frankly, an inspiration.

Everyone should be so lucky to have a friend like him, or a mother like Barbara Krause.

Maybe you already do.

I hope MK's example inspires you to tell the important people in your life how much they mean to you.

Link: MK Guestbook

In Memoriam: David F. Bradford, 1939 - 2005

David_bradfordThe New York Times published an obituary for David Bradford, widely described as an innovator in tax policy. He sought to find new ways of equitable tax, not only through his X Tax (essentially a flat tax that targeted spending, exempting savings) and through thoughtful analysis (Adobe Acrobat required) of how the goals of the Kyoto Protocols could be achieved through less draconian measures.

An expert on taxation issues, Bradford served under Presidents Ford, Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He was a member of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors from 1991 to 1993 and was deputy assistant secretary for tax policy in the Treasury Department in 1975 and 1976.

While at Treasury, Bradford played a key role in the study that resulted in the publication of "Blueprints for Basic Tax Reform," regarded as a precursor to the major income tax reforms enacted in 1986. "David's creative ideas have profoundly shaped tax reform," said Martin Feldstein, the Harvard economics professor and president of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

With cities and states facing an uncertain tax future (WSJ subscription required), people like David Bradford are in short supply.

Dorothy and the Gang Visit the Original Venture Capitalist

Xmascolor_1Happy Holidays, everyone.

Issues I'll Be Blogging

In this blog, I'm going to draw on my experiences to describe how shopping is likely to change over the next few years...and how this will affect the business of managing marketplaces. Here's the categories I'll be blogging:

Driving Retail Traffic - the science of selling
Ideas 2.0 - new ways to turbocharge your business
Luxury Brands - news on marketing and selling luxury brands
Media Economics - how media influences how people buy
Mobile Lifestyles - the impact of SMS on customer service
Politics and Tax - the role of government in marketplaces
Real Estate Investors - best practices in managing a marketplace

About ConnectMe

"Connect Me" is about the evolution of the places where people live, work and play.

It's about why people buy things and how places are governed. It's going to include news items, commentary, and links to interesting developments. I'd like to invite you to read this blog from time to time and ask questions. In exchange I'll try to provide you with real-time feedback.

This site is a companion to "ConnectMe 360", a company that I am starting to commercialize some of the ideas you may find in this blog.

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