Friday, October 05, 2007

A Glorifying Homage to Life

During our 3th quarter meeting my new boss at The Wall Street Journal Europe invited us to look at a video he found at the top of a "most e-mailed" and "most viewed" article list. What had struck him was the fact that the subject of the video was not of the "breaking news" kind, on the contrary the subject of the video seemed to be an excerpt of a seminar dated back several weeks ago. Not your usual top of "most e-mailed" articles. Apparently the videopost seemed to be picked up by more and more people the last couple of days who started sending around the video to their friends, who then forward it to their friends etc etc... The video shows Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch giving a "Last Lecture". Usually a "Last Lecture" is a gimmick at some top universities to give professors the opportunity to present their thoughts and ideas as if they were their final ones. In the case of Randy Paush this is a somewhat morbid reality. The healthy looking 46 year old professor, father of 3, was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told he only had a few more months to live. That is also the onset of his "Last Lecture", a ct scan of the 10 tumors on his lever. Pausch's speech turned out to be more than an academic exercise, it became a glorifying homage to life filled with a variety of lessons world renowned management guru's would be jealous of.

The full video is to be seen at:

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Metropolitan University London

It is one of my tasks to build a strong educational platform for The Wall Street Journal Europe. After all, universities are often the first place where future readers come into contact with our newspaper. It is an adventure to dive into the European Academic world to find out where our newspaper is already present and in what way, or to have new universities join the WSJE educational platform. I reserved a few days to explore the London Academic scene and met amongst others Jonathan Taylor, the man who tried to have our newspaper delivered to the Metropolitan University for his marketing students years ago. I won't tell in detail what the man had to endure before our newspapers were made available to his students a long time ago (his story was definitely not a showcase of a service oriented newspapercompany).

What I did learn was that it is often the action of 1 man, a 'believer' in a specific product, who starts a chain of events which ultimately lead to the establishment of a unique position of that product in his daily environment. When that environment turns out to be a reception area of a university where 1000 students pass by each day, then we should humbly recognize and salute the passion of such a believer. It was only after my visit to him I realised Jonathan Taylor was the co-author of one of the best selling Marketing Communications handbooks in the UK.