Encyclopedic Knowledge

Last night, before watching the Office, I was reading a little of the first Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective book by Donald Sobol. And I was surprised how many ideas and lessons for the world of work there were in just the first three stories!

Here are some of the leading themes:

The Case of Natty Nat

  • Become known for your knowledge. “Leroy Brown’s head was like an encyclopedia. Old ladies who did crossword puzzles were always stopping him on the street to ask him questions.”
  • Think before you speak. “Encyclopedia answered after a moment. He always waited a moment.”
  • Don’t toot your own horn. “Nobody knew a boy was the mastermind behind the town’s police force. He never talked about himself.”
  • Don’t take things at face value. Encyclopedia cracked the case because he paid close attention to details and questioned a witness’s story.

The Case of the Scattered Cards

  • Don’t procrastinate. “He could begin at once.”
  • Let people know what you can do. “He put the handbills in all the mailboxes in the neighborhood.”
  • Maintain a central office. “Encyclopedia nailed the sign on the door of the Browns’ garage.”
  • Accept all challenges. “No case is too small.”
  • The Case of the Civil War Sword

    • Learn long. “Encyclopedia did not lift his eyes from his book, How to Build a Nuclear Reactor.”
    • Don’t fall prey to big names. “Stonewall Jackson? The great Southern general?”
    • Pay attention to the fine print. Encyclopedia solved the conundrum by analyzing an inscription on the blade of the sword.