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A Disordered Desk Is a Sign of Genius – Quote Investigator

Leo Tolstoy? Edwin H. Stuart? Elinor Glyn? Henry Traphagen? Art Buchwald? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: While I am working hard on a complex project my desk usually becomes messy, but I take comfort in the following sayings:

  • A cluttered desk is the mark of a genius.
  • A messy desk is the sign of a creative mind.
  • An untidy desk is a sign of brilliance.

Would you please explore the history of this modern adage?

Quote Investigator: A strong match appeared in the journal “Typo Graphic” in 1947. The editor Edwin H. Stuart sent a questionnaire to his readers, and he was disappointed with the low response rate. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI:

When you did not reply we assumed that you may have: Moved to another city. …

Or, that you’re one of those geniuses who have a piled-up desk and you threw the card in the pile and it got lost.

Tolstoi said that a disordered desk was a sign of genius and we see lots of littered desks in our rambles around Pittsburgh.

Stuart used the alternative spelling “Tolstoi” while crediting Leo Tolstoy. QI has not yet found support for this ascription; however, QI has not attempted the difficult task of searching for a Russian instance.

This website also has articles about two related expressions: “A disordered desk is an evidence of a disordered brain” and “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, we can’t help wondering what an empty desk indicates”.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In 1850 “The Science of Practical Penmanship” referred with incredulity to a proverb about another type of sloppiness and its connection to genius:

… the proverbial absurdity, that “a bad hand writing indicates genius.” If so, geniuses must be more numerous than is generally supposed. How ridiculously absurd is the idea that a wretched scrawl has any connexion with genius.

In 1926 the novelist and screenwriter Elinor Glyn stated that a messy desk evinced efficiency in some professions:

“A business man’s desk,” she says, “is an index to his mind. A cluttered desk means work undone very often, and forgotten odds and ends.

“There is an exception. Newspapermen have untidy desks and are still generally efficient. I know a famous editor who does his work on the corner of a desk piled high with newspapers.”

In 1938 columnist Edwin C. Hill suggested that a cluttered desk sometimes facilitated work:

A man with a cluttered desk, flouting all the laws of business efficiency, kicks out an amazing lot of work. Great literature and deathless names have come out of dirt, disorder and insolvency.

In 1940 an editorial in “The Hartford Courant” of Connecticut pointed out that a messy desk did not impede Charles Dickens:

Yet there are those who ascribe special virtue to the owner of a cluttered desk. Any man who is able to produce gems of work from a topsy-turvy counter is accorded inordinate powers of concentration. Dickens was like that: The more messy the writing table, the clearer his expression.

By 1947 the modern proverb had emerged from the pen of Edwin H. Stuart although he credited Leo Tolstoy as noted previously in this article:

Tolstoi said that a disordered desk was a sign of genius and we see lots of littered desks in our rambles around Pittsburgh.

In 1950 Stuart wrote a short item in “Typo Graphic” titled “Genius!” in which he shared the adage with readers again:

An artist associated with the design and drafting staff of the U.S. Steel group located in the Chamber of Commerce Building, had a sign over his desk saying, “Don’t clutter up the exhibit.”

And his desk really is an exhibit—everything on it except the kitchen sink. Oh well, Tolstoi said, “A disordered desk is a sign of genius.”

In 1955 a journalist in Dixon, Illinois mentioned the saying:

Mrs. Shaw had often chided her newsroom reporters and editors for their untidiness . . . I once wrote a column in tongue-in-cheek rebuttal. I had pointed out quite discreetly, that some psychologists regarded a messy desk as a sign of genius. I knew she had read it but she never mentioned it.

In 1961 “The Cincinnati Enquirer” of Ohio printed a remark from a reader:

We didn’t intend to stomp this subject to death, but we have received conflicting viewpoints.. Henry Traphagen of Hyde Park Avenue goes along with the theory that a cluttered desk is a sign of genius . . .

In 1971 the humorist Art Buchwald received credit for an instance:

Recently Art Buchwald had a column on cleaning desks and he stated that it was his belief that a messy desk was a sign of intelligence and dedication. Naturally after observing the desks in my office I have to agree.

In 1972 the adage was displayed on a sign that featured in a department store advertisement printed in a Baltimore, Maryland newspaper:

Humorous desk markers . . . “I said, maybe and that’s final”, “Danger! Human being at work”, “A cluttered desk is the mark of genius”

In conclusion, this adage was popularized by Edwin H. Stuart by 1947. He credited Leo Tolstoy, but that linkage is currently uncertain.

(Great thanks to Missy Helwig, John Knecht, and Simon Koppel who inquired about a humorous quotation concerning cluttered desks attributed to Albert Einstein. QI formulated this question and performed this investigation to serve as the third part of a multipart exploration. Special thanks to Dennis Lien who obtained photocopies of the crucial 1947 and 1950 citations in “Typo Graphic”. Much thanks to Donna Halper who pointed to precursors about bad handwriting such as the 1850 citation. Many thanks to researcher Peter Reitan who shared with QI interesting precursors dated 1926, 1938, and 1940. Also, thanks to the “The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs” for an entry on this expression and other related expressions. Additional thanks to Barry Popik for his research on a related expression.)

Quote Desk Analyst job in Philadelphia at Comcast

Company Description

Comcast Corporation is a global media and technology company with three primary businesses, Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal and Sky. Comcast Cable is a video, high-speed internet, phone, wireless and security and automation services provider under the XFINITY brand. NBCUniversal operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures and Universal Parks and Resorts. Sky is one of Europe’s leading media and entertainment companies, connecting customers to a broad range of video content through its pay television services. It also provides communications services, including residential high-speed internet, phone, and wireless services. Sky operates the Sky News broadcast network and sports and entertainment networks, produces original content, and has exclusive content rights. The conglomerate is headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, with corporate offices Atlanta, Detroit, Denver, Manchester, New Hampshire and New York City. Comcast is sometimes described as a family business: Brian L. Roberts, chairman, president, and CEO of Comcast, is the son of founder Ralph J. Roberts.

Job Description

Summary

Support the sale of Ethernet transport products by providing operational support to the Comcast Carrier sales organization. The pricing analyst will operate as a member of the Comcast Carrier ‘Quote Desk’ and will focus on processing pre-sales opportunities by utilizing Comcast’s internal quoting tools to obtain accurate construction costs to build the network.

Core Responsibilities

  • Respond to all customers’ inquiries sent via email, phone or chat as it relates to the Quote Desk.
  • Submit requests for surveys, identify rate card prices, and present proposal to customer
  • Manage customer relationships by tracking results of sites quoted for each customer
  • Manage the flow of timely completion of large RFP bids
  • Provide timely and accurate response times based on pre-defined SLA goals.
  • Provide insight and guidance in the creation of quoting tools and drive automation of processes.
  • Develop the required relationships with all levels of the Comcast Carrier Sales Leadership Team to ensure that revenue goals are achieved and supporting business processes are defined.
  • Perform other duties as assigned, including ad-hoc analysis on methods to optimize price through market and pricing strategies.

Requirements:

  • Education Level -Bachelors Degree or Equivalent
  • Field of Study Finance, Business Administration, Economics, Engineering, MIS
  • Years Experience-Generally requires 3-5 years related experience
  • Proficient in SalesForce, GIS tools and with processing large sets of data
  • Telecommunications experience is a plus

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This job was posted on Wed Dec 20 2017 and expired on Sat Jan 06 2018.

Minimum
$51901.66888199675

$86143.84876679958
average

Maximum
$120601.38827351942

Comcast
Description

Comcast Corporation is a global media and technology company with three primary businesses, Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal and Sky. Comcast Cable is a video, high-speed internet, phone, wireless and security and automation services provider under the XFINITY brand. NBCUniversal operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures and Universal Parks and Resorts. Sky is one of Europe’s leading media and entertainment companies, connecting customers to a broad range of video content through its pay television services. It also provides communications services, including residential high-speed internet, phone, and wireless services. Sky operates the Sky News broadcast network and sports and entertainment networks, produces original content, and has exclusive content rights. The conglomerate is headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, with corporate offices Atlanta, Detroit, Denver, Manchester, New Hampshire and New York City. Comcast is sometimes described as a family business: Brian L. Roberts, chairman, president, and CEO of Comcast, is the son of founder Ralph J. Roberts.

Type

Company – Public (CMCSA)

Location

1 Comcast CtrPhiladelphia, PA, 19103and others

Industry

Satellite Equipment Stores

Total job postings in the past

Based on 130 job boards, duplications excluded

3 weeks

Average posting lifetime

Total job posting distribution in the past

Based on 130 job boards, duplications excluded

Job category Distribution 6 months 1 year
Sales 20.1%

10%

1,410%

IT 19.6%

52%

3,067%

Retail 9.0%

1%

1,238%

Other 7.5%

10%

1,423%

Marketing & PR 6.2%

4%

1,049%

Engineering 5.3%

18%

965%

Executive Management 5.2%

64%

2,152%

Consulting & Upper Management 5.2%

14%

1,404%

Construction 4.1%

20%

892%

Customer Service 3.5%

33%

835%

Banking 2.0%

14%

856%

Human Resources 1.8%

34%

965%

Arts & Entertainment 1.8%

31%

1,159%

Telecommunications 1.8%

8%

912%

Finance 1.7%

13%

980%

Protective Services 1.0%

10%

1,619%

Food Services 0.7%

47%

615%

Administrative 0.7%

20%

1,149%

Transportation & Logistics 0.6%

29%

949%

Government & Military 0.4%

27%

822%

Non-Profit & Volunteering 0.3%

14%

1,693%

Manufacturing 0.3%

9%

1,862%

Legal 0.3%

24%

1,750%

Hospitality & Travel 0.2%

61%

646%

Healthcare 0.2%

51%

1,355%

Insurance 0.2%

4%

1,273%

Real Estate 0.1%

38%

1,157%

Education 0.1%

32%

1,450%

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