By now, in the same weekend that we lost Whitney Houston, you have learned of the fatal accident that claimed the life of Wall Street Journal columnist and author Jeffrey Zaslow.
You can read the full account of that accident and a history of his life by clicking on this link that takes you to the WSJ article published on Saturday, February 11.
Zaslow was the catalyst behind the publicity for The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. He co-authored the book with Pausch that became a legacy and a stand-alone best-seller. More recently, he received critical acclaim for his 2011 book, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, collborated upon with Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords and her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, following her shooting.
He had insightful columns, noted most for his sharp eye and unique twists for delivering content that we would not read elsewhere. Zaslow was one of the most anticipated columnists in the WSJ. How fervent was he? Read how his colleagues remembered him in the article published on Saturday:
“While working on columns and books, Mr. Zaslow would collect voluminous notes that he organized in piles that spilled off his desk, sat in uneven rows around his chair and cluttered an empty cubicle adjacent to his. When he took his work home at night, he packed his notes into a wheeled carry-on suitcase.”
I remember I felt empty when Howard Cosell passed. We lost a great interviewer that day. I felt even worse this weekend. We lost a great voice in Houston and a great writer in Zaslow.
How do you remember him? Let’s talk about it really soon!
The appeal of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (New York: Hyperion, 2008) is universal and longstanding. It was on the bestseller list for many months and has received great critical acclaim.
Pausch was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon. At the time he gave the lecture that this book was based upon, he had been recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. The lecture focused on living, not dying. His preface to the book states, “with thanks to my parents who allowed me to dream, and with hopes for the dreams my children will have.” The lecture and book discusses achieving your childhood dreams, overcoming obstacles, and how to seize every moment that you have while you are living.
I am requiring this book in my communication courses this fall. When students give their persuasive presentation, I want them to imagine that it is their “last lecture,” and deliver their topic with the passion that resontates with this book.
Think about how you would sound if you were giving your last chance to make an appeal to change someone’s mind or call people to action. Your last.
What do you think?
Let’s talk about it this week!
Cheryl offers: I recently heard the rumor that eventually all books will be digital. Down with that idea I say! Call me old fashioned, but I am one of those people who LOVE to hold a book, turn the pages, feel the paper, write notes in the white space, highlight what catches my attention and I want to remember. When I think about great civilizations, not one comes to mind that didn’t have story telling as a part of their culture. In our day, we tell our stories in books. I love the touch and feel of a good book in my hands and my eyes love the print. Reading a screen, be it a Kindle or a personal computer, is not my idea of a good time. It’s hard for me to feel connected to something that disappears at the drop of an electric current or battery. I don’t want it to “come alive” when I want to read and I don’t want to wait for it to “shut down” for the night when I’m sleepy and want to go to bed. I hope this idea of putting all print on electronic media goes away and stays away. Whatever will I do with all my bookshelves? How will I ever find all the ideas I loved at the moment I read them? This all became very clear to me as I read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Although I know his words would have been the same, something changed as I held the book in my own hands knowing he wrote this with only a few months to live just last year and now he is already gone.
Sara adds: Just for the record, I love paper and ink books, too. Hey, with as much grey hair as I have – it’s to be expected (!) I think it’s a generational thing. However, I also love the idea of drawing new reading audiences into the world of “other people’s ideas,” into the place of relying on the mind’s eye to create a locale or a tone or spectacular view. We hear so much about the need for innovation in business. Well, I’m here to tell you that without an active imagination, innovation is tough. Reading is way to stimulate the imagination and to practice those muscles that make innovation possible. So let’s make room for technology that encourages reading. Let’s be OK with the fact that it’s designed for a younger generation and their styles. So here’s to Kindles and nooks, Cybook Opus, BeBook and all the others. Let’s encourage younger folk to expand their “electronic horizons” by introducing new ideas in their medium. And then let’s invite them to a join us in a conversation.