Randy Plutarch : His Last Lecture / Tips For Group Collaborations

You may recognize Randy Plutarch from his many television appearances. He was a brilliant professor at Carnegie Mellon University who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on July 25th, 2008.

Although, he left an amazing academic legacy, he is most famous for a discourse he titled “The Last Lecture.” The lecture was his contribution to a long-standing tradition at the University where professors would give an address speaking about life lessons.

Undeniably, Randy’s eminent death brought a new poignancy and emotional depth to the series.

The lecture is an educational, gratifying and wrenching affair. He discusses combating the disease, his life before cancer and his family’s struggle to find happiness and balance after learning about his terminal condition.

Even though, I have watched the lecture many times, I feel the audiobook is the best way to experience the speech. As an added bonus, Randy narrates the book and it contains supplementary content not included in the original lecture.

You can get additional information on his website at

You can also watch the original lecture in its entirety at

I have included a copy of a handout titled “Tips for Working Successfully in a Group.” He was a proponent of group activities in his courses and provided this document to help students make the most out of their group experience.

In an era where collaboration is an important factor at work and school, this handout is more poignant than ever.

Randy Pausch’s Tips for Working Successfully in a Group


Link to Original


Meet people properly.

It all starts with the introduction. Then, exchange contact information, and make sure you know how to pronounce everyone’s names. Exchange phone #s, [email addresses] and find out what hours are acceptable to call during.

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Partnership Agreements: Clauses and Stipulations

Before entering a partnership agreement, people should be completely clear and honest about their intentions and expectations.

If one or more of the partners feel that they require certain assurances before they will invest into a business, they can ask that certain stipulations be included in the partnership agreement.

These clauses unmistakably define the legal obligations of the partners and managers of the company, and alert any potential partners to any and all of the possible actions an associate may legally take under the terms of the agreement.

Partnership Agreement Clauses

Despite the amount of time and care spent on a contract, no agreement is completely bulletproof. There is always a chance that a contract, stipulation, or clause will be challenged in court and found to be illegal or unenforceable under the law.

Yet, individuals always stand a better chance of protecting their interests by insisting on specific clauses.

Whenever partners enter into a heated disagreement, the original partnership agreement, contract or company charter becomes the guideline and yardstick for any potential solutions.

Without these strict guidelines, vague or non-existent language in an agreement leaves critical issues up to interpretation or majority rule.

Expiration Dates

Some partnerships are short-term agreements.

These types of contracts can include an agreement to maintain the partnership until a specific project is completed, or limits the existence of the company to a specific amount of time.

Scenarios for this type of agreement include seasonal work, or outsourced or subcontracted contracts to complete a specific project.

These arrangements benefit everyone, as there is no room for disagreement. Once the job is complete, there is an amicable dissolution of the company and the immediate distribution of assets or profits between the partners.

Be aware of your obligations

A person should never enter into any type of agreement without considering the obligations they are making to the company and the other partners.

Indeed, legal contracts bind parties together in ways they might not expect and an inflexible contract puts a person at risk.

Such risk can include the inability to sell their portion of the business or the inability to force the dissolution of the company in cases of illegal, immoral, or unethical actions by the other partners or the company.

These ties can be especially costly if the company ends up insolvent or is involved in a legal dispute.

Individuals need to understand their obligations and commitment to the company before they agree to invest.

Forfeit Clauses

Sometimes companies try to cripple competitors or avoid a costly buyout by enticing certain critical partners to jump ship.

Partners will write in a clause that forces a forfeiture of the partner’s financial and intellectual interests in the company if they try to leave.

Buyout Clauses

Sometimes the only long-term goal for partners is to build up the company so that it is an attractive object for a buyout by a larger company.

These clauses spell out the requirements of a potential sale of the company. Usually, focusing on the minimal amount of time the company has to become profitable or the cash amount investors would accept to sell the company outright.

Many venture capitalists sit on unprofitable investments with the expectation that the company will become an IPO when it is most profitable. Therefore, guaranteeing them a sizable return on their investment.

In the creation of any agreement or legal contract, it is the duty of everyone involved to be forthright and honest about his or her expectations. While it might result in a delay or cancellation of any plans, a thorough wording of a contract limits disagreements between partners and results in a stronger company with an increased focus on its goals.


Career Journal: Finding Humanity within a Single stroke of a Pen

While many people reflect on their lives by using a personal journal, not many use the same technique to find meaning in their careers. By writing in a journal, you unburden yourself of the heavy thoughts that damage your self-confidence and self-worth.

A career or work journal allows you to focus on the many positive moments that you would otherwise ignore, and it permits you to learn important lessons from negative events that you would rather forget.

Ultimately, a work journal helps you recognize that your mental strength is limitless and that even the smallest actions can represent huge accomplishments.

Memories and Emotions

Offices can become negative environments, where the expectations of the business supersede the personal needs of its employees.

It is a place where we can easily lose our humanity to feelings of discontent and under appreciation.

Use your work journal to escape your negative surroundings and rediscover your passion. Your own words will allow you to rejoice in your accomplishments whenever you feel disillusioned about your performance.

Your personal writing space is a place where you can reflect on who you have become, and find a way to become the person you want to be.

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New Partnerships: Finding the right person to lead your company

Businesses benefit from the potential diversity of knowledge, experience and resources that multiple owners bring to an enterprise.

However, in accessing these resources, companies need to develop an organizational structure that assigns areas of responsibility according to each partners or employees strengths, expertise and commitment to the company’s goals.

Each partner needs to know what their associates bring to the venture and collectively the team needs to decide how to best use those resources. This type of predefined structure makes a company flexible, focused and stable.


Most ventures start with a limited amount of capital and manpower, which means owners need to take responsibility for aspects of the business they are not competent or interested in overseeing.

For some people, it becomes an all or nothing proposal. Consequently, they refuse to entrust somebody else with any responsibilities, because of their compulsion to retain control or because of pride.

The business becomes an extension of their personality and self-image. They refuse to accept advice in their personal life and by extension are unlikely to accept it on behalf of the business.

Partners need to be aware of these traits, and act accordingly. They need to accept this management scenario, find a tolerable compromise or walk away.

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