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May 2013: Full Contact Project Management

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May 2013
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Full Contact Project Management

Masonry Magazine
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So I want you to meet my new best friend, Randy, who I just met yesterday – in a YouTube video. You can’t really meet him, because he’s impossible to meet, but he knows a lot about brick walls. Visit YouTube, or just Google and search for Randy Pausch, “The Last Lecture.” And then, brace yourself!

Randy knows about brick walls, but not because he was a mason contractor going through some tough times. As a man in his mid-40s with three young children, a wonderful wife and a great job, he found out that he had cancer – pancreatic cancer – the type almost never survived.

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“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

— Randy Pausch, “The Last Lecture”

He underwent radical surgery and chemo, which were followed with the news that it wasn’t enough. His doctors gave him three to six months to live.

Randy, a professor at Carnegie-Mellon University, had figured some great ways to teach students difficult subjects, but with little “book learning.” His teachings were almost all project based. He figured he owed a debt to his students and his university, so he agreed to teach what was to be called “The Last Lecture.” In effect, it was his last lecture.

You see, Randy Pausch was not just trying to figure out how to win his next bid and pay the light bill, but how to leave a legacy for his kids.

I may be wrong, but I think that he’d have enjoyed these last couple of years’ worth of Masonry issues. And, I think that he would have liked Full Contact Project Management and been a huge fan of the MCAA. How do I know? Because he was always a believer in and supporter of the schools where he worked, and what they taught.

“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.”

Randy Pausch, “The Last Lecture”

Randy loved to teach by putting small teams of people together and having them build projects. Is that the essence of our industry and MCAA, or what? He strove for excellence, both in the teaching of skills and in the execution of the students’ projects.

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“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to off.”

Randy Pausch, “The Last Lecture”

I’m not going to tell you how the video ends; I won’t spoil it for you. But with all of the past-tense talk in this column, you know that he didn’t make it. In fact, he died in the summer of 2008. Interestingly, he delivered The Last Lecture on Sept. 18, 2007. What makes that interesting to me is that things were different then for our industry, as it still had a little bit of steam. Think about the contrast to Randy’s life.

I certainly didn’t have a clue as to what was coming back then. Life was still pretty good for me. It was different for Randy. He knew what was coming and what his family faced. But there was little complaining. By comparison, I confess to much more complaining through much less drastic circumstances.

But for me, and for all of us, it is not too late. Coming up on the mid-point of the year, I believe it’s time to make my first New Year’s resolution. That is to be grateful for what I have been given, which is way more than I’m due, and promise to make better use of it.

May is the month of Memorial Day, honoring sacrifices by patriots, past and future, and showing appreciation for jobs well done and for exemplary leadership. One of the ways I’ll be doing that is by remembering Randy, and by appreciating brick walls.


What’s your plan for winning in 2013? Have some brick walls to demolish? Ask Coach Gary to speak for your group, association or convention, or even to coach your company. Coach Gary’s first book, “Get Paid for a Change!” is available at Amazon.com. Pick it up there; change your business.

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