In Memory of Randy Pausch: Inspirational Videos to Watch When You Are In a Rut

photo by artfulblogger

I try to keep things positive here at Frugal Dad, but admittedly even I do occasionally get down.  I grow weary from the coming and going of the corporate rat race.  At times I get down about so much of my income going towards becoming debt free (it is a noble goal, but there are other things I’d rather be doing with money than paying off banks!).  And every now and then I just get bummed for no apparent reason.

However, in memory of the indomitable spirit of Randy Pausch, who passed away last Friday after losing his battle with pancreatic cancer, I’m dedicating today’s post to ways to get fired up about life!  Since I was a kid I’ve always found inspiration in movies, books, music, and particularly in the inspirational stories of others.  YouTube has sort of provided a combination of two or three of those mediums, and I have a few favorite videos bookmarked to help lift my spirits when I get down.  Maybe you have been feeling a little blue here lately, and could use a boost as well.

The Last Lecture.  Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon and husband and father of three, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last August and only given a few months to live.  He gave this last lecture on September 18, 2007, just a month after his diagnosis.  Pausch was interviewed on Good Morning America on May 19, 2008, nine months after his diagnosis, and the day of his surprise return to Carnegie Mellon’s graduation ceremony.  His story, and in particular this final lecture, are a powerful reminder of the strength of the human spirit.  Randy Pausch died July 25, 2008, just a few days removed from the time of this post.  I followed Pausch’s story after first seeing his “Last Lecture” some time ago.  He will be missed.

Life Lesson:  There is always someone out there going through something more difficult than you, and many times doing it with a better attitude.  Remember, sometimes we can’t control the things that happen to us, but we can control how we respond to them.

Perseverance, and a Father’s Love.  The stage was the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.  Sprinter Derek Redmond was picked to win gold in the 400-meter event, but he tore a hamstring about half way through the race.  After taking a knee for a moment, the injured Redmond began to hobble around the track in an effort to finish the race, long after the winner had crossed the finish line.  He is greeted by his father after the last turn, who helps him cross the finish line, waving off help from trainers and track officials.  It was a beautiful moment.

Money Lesson:  The journey towards financial freedom can be a long one, especially if you are starting out in a significant hole.  But every single step forward is a step towards the finish line.  Don’t be afraid to accept help from loved ones along the way.

Where is Matt?  I included this one because it is such a unique video, and an interesting example of the power of internet marketing.  Matt is a 31 year-old, self described “deadbeat’ from Connecticut who quit his job a few years ago and spent time just wandering around the world.  While traveling he recorded himself doing a dance at various destinations, and put the video online when he came home.  A few people found the video, it got passed around and soon Matt was the owner of a popular video.  Stride Gum contacted him and asked him to take another trip around the world, this time on their dime, and recreate the dance with other people.  A video sensation was born. At the time of this writing the month-old video has received nearly 8 million views on YouTube.  (found this one via Brip Blap)

Another Life Lesson:  Sometimes things that seem silly to us may resonate with others.  Sure, the dance is a little goofy, but the message behind the dance is inspiring.  I asked my daughter what she thought the video meant and she said something profound.  “I guess it means that no matter where you are if you are happy and start to dance then others will dance with you.”  Well said.

Do you have any personal favorites you’d like to share with others?  Feel free to drop it in the comments below.


  1. FD – What a wonderful post! First off I think that it is great that you acknowledge that you can get down when working towards financial freedom. I think some other PF sites make it sound too simple. Just follow steps 1,2, 3 and Viola! Easy as that. But it is a very emotional journey, which can be very difficult and sometimes depressing.

    Second, these are very inspirational clips. What a great way to get yourself out of a down mood. Thanks!

  2. @PT: Oh, I love Team Hoyt! I should included their story because I’ve been inspired by Hoyt Sr, both as a father and as a former wanna-be athlete! He is the real deal. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Where is Matt? – amazing, definitely very cool. This guy is my new idol and finally I see somebody who dances worse than me. Watching it was definitely a pick-me-up and I wish I’d to be able to distill my travels into a nice short positive message like that. He definitely looks like a cool, upbeat guy.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thank you for this. It was a hard weekend of depressing frugality in this house – and I felt GUILTY for not feeling like a winner. The Matt video absolutely made my day and made me realize THAT is who I am. Someone who dances.

  5. My inspiration is my grandmother – after several strokes and being confined to a chair, one day as a young child of about 12, I was ‘watching’ her so Grandpa could go somewhere quickly. (I was old enough to be trusted to use the phone if I needed help…)
    Her response to some little thing was to laugh – she was always laughing. I asked her, “Grandma, why do you always laugh?” She said, “You can laugh or you can cry. I chose to Laugh!”

    I have always always remembered that and it has helped me out many times.

  6. Thanks for the focus on the positive. I just want to correct one thing about Randy Pausch. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2007 ( The average life expectancy after being diagnosed is 3-6 months. He lived an amazingly long time following the diagnosis. When he gave the last lecture he had been treating the cancer for a year. Let’s hope his efforts help to increase research on this type of cancer.

  7. Oops – I have to correct my previous post. I meant to write that Randy was diagnosed in September 2006. When we all became aware of him because of his last lecture, he had been treating his cancer for a year, which makes those one armed push ups in the video even more amazing!

  8. @Gayle: That is amazing! Thanks for pointing this out. I must have read something wrong on his bio page, or somewhere in the media coverage, to get the August ’07 date.

  9. Thank you for this post…I just stumbled on your site while searching through blogs. I have been feeling a little off today. Kind of crabby, kind of emotional. You reminded me I am the only one with the power to snap myself out of it 🙂