Thursday, May 15, 2014

Goulet Q&A Episode 31, Open Forum

Here's Goulet Q&A Episode 31, which is an open forum. I start out this video by talking about me and Rachel attending the milestone event in NYC this October called "Business Gets Personal", hosted by Dave Ramsey, Gary Vaynerchuck, and Seth Godin. These are three headlining business/marketing gurus, each of which have had a tremendous influence on the development of GouletPens.com. We are super, super pumped about getting to meet these guys in person. 

Last week I couldn't help myself and basically did a double posting. That was great, but I just didn't have the time to make that happen this week, despite getting a ton of really great questions. 

I noticed that's starting to happen to me more and more. I'm getting more questions than I can answer. The gung-ho personal service guy in me wants to answer every question, but this week, for example, I had 44 solid questions. I only was able to answer 20 in this hour-long video. That means I would have a (roughly) 2hr 12min Q&A if I actually answered all those awesome questions, with future Q&A's getting longer and longer.

So here's what I'm proposing: you post awesome questions, and I'll answer as many as I can with the best knowledge that I have. If I don't answer your question, you either post it the following week (if it's relevant to the theme), or email GouletQA@gouletpens.com and I or someone on the Goulet team will make sure to get you an answer.

If I don't get to your question, it's often because of several reasons: 
  1. I don't feel I can answer it intelligently
  2. I don't feel I have enough context to give a proper response
  3. I've answered it in a previous Q&A
  4. It's too specific and wouldn't benefit most of the Q&A audience
  5. It doesn't fit that week's theme
  6. I just run out of time
All that said, here are the lucky folks that nabbed my attention this week:

1) NoFuture NoHope- Facebook (8:09):
Are there two versions of the Pilot Metropolitan? I am in Europe and the con-50 does not fit, but the standard international seems to fit perfectly…
  • Yes, the European market (called the MR) uses a Standard International cartridge/converter
  • US uses Pilot/Namiki C/C
  • No idea why they did this, but they must have had their reasons 

2) @ellynmv- Twiiter (9:22):
Sometimes the cartridge converter in my Platinum Cool gets tough to twist. Is it fixable or should I get a new one?
3) @ethosophical- Twitter (11:19):
How nervous should I be about keeping ink bottles out? How long before inks start to fade? Tips on displaying?
  • Technically speaking, it's best to keep them in the box/out of direct light
  • Some colors (blues, reds) are more sensitive than others
  • I personally haven't experienced dramatic changes with inks left out, but play it safe
  • If it's an ink you regularly use, say replace once a year or every other year, keep it out if you want
  • If you don't use it often and want it to last years and years, store it away

4) Michael K.- Facebook (13:20):
Brian, What should you do with your fountain pen inks during the summertime when it gets extremely hot? Should I put them in the refrigerator or keep them out?
  • best stored at room temperature, keep out of direct sun
  • fridge might be overkill
5) Marco R.- Facebook (14:32):
Do you find that manufacturers pens work best when used with the manufactures own inks? i.e. pilot/namiki pen with pilot ink. I have a Platinum 3776 and have found it loves Platinum inks but when I use Noodler's or Pilot ink the pen writes very dry and doesn't start as soon as nib hits the paper.
  • most pen makers will say so
  • not really the case
  • most inks by pen makers are less saturated, usually fewer flow issues, less vibrant
  • may vary ink-to-ink, try cleaning thoroughly
  • not sure why this would be the case with your pen 

6) Francisco H.- Facebook (17:35):
Let's say you are quitting your job, hypothetically speaking, and you storm into your boss's office armed with a bottle of ink. What ink would you throw on his white shirt?

7) Ricardo L. - Facebook (19:27):
Hi Brian! What is your take on the current overall state of the fountain pen industry / market ? Where do you see it and your company in five years ?
  • Hard to say, I haven't been around 5 years yet!
  • industry is seeing changes, for sure
  • some brands on upswing, some are losing focus
  • noticing a trend of larger companies owned by conglomerates losing touch, aging with population and not bringing in new users
  • newer brands are exciting new users, Noodler's, TWSBI, Edison, Jinhao, Monteverde 

8) Tiffany F.- Facebook (29:24):
1) Cake or pie? 2) What's your opinion on Diamine Oxblood ink?
  • I won't turn down either, usually!
  • Cake, definitely
  • Goulet shop is about 40% cake, 60% pie
  • Oxblood's great, when we have it!
  • A little dark for me, I like Red Dragon better

9) Berk F.- Facebook (31:44):
Can you give an advice on a very wet ink to use in a very dry pen? (Other than Iroshizuku)

10) Edgar H.- Facebook (32:44):
Hi Brian! I wanna now: which is the smoothest nib you've used in your life?
  • broad 14k Lamy nib
  • only available on Platinum Gray/Palladium Studio and Dialog 3

11) Erin W.- Facebook (35:24):
Hey Brian! I love writing with my Pilot Metropolitan. It's so smooth. I usually have it filled with Noodler's 54th Massachusetts. The only thing is I feel like it writes just a little too wet. This may just be a result of it being a medium nib or the ink that I'm using. But before I break down and shell out for the sweet, sweet fine nib version, is there any way to "customize" or adjust the nib and feed to control the flow of ink? Kinda like with the Noodler's nib creepers? Thanks!
  • Nope, they are what they are
  • adjust with type of ink/paper, that's all 

12) Kevin L.- Facebook (37:31):
Here's an unusual question for you to ponder: does the quality or brand of a converter affect the viscosity of the ink? Compare and contrast. The time is yours!
  • viscosity? "the state of being thick, sticky, and semifluid in consistency, due to internal friction."- not really
  • flow, yes
  • but different brands are really different designs, you usually don't have a choice on a given pen

13) Intl E.- Facebook (40:42):
I have a question: what pen & ink do you use when signing things you consider important, like a contract, a marriage or birth certificate for your children, &c?

14) Ray C.- Facebook (42:14):
If you were an ink which ink would you be and why?

15) Joey H.- Facebook (43:14):

What is your favorite shading blue ink?

16) Virgil V.- Facebook (45:11):
Is there any risk involved in returning ink from a pen to a bottle after you've already used the pen and ink for some time. I usually do this when I can't wait for the current ink to get used up and I want to use a different one.
  • yes, risk of contamination
  • paper fibers, dust, dried ink, etc going back in
  • probably won't notice anything until the near end of bottle

17) Eddie R.- Facebook (48:09):
Do you guys offer any kind of military discount, if not, do you have any plans to implement anything in the future? Maybe even something small like free shipping
  • free shipping to APO's
  • no real way to do more, with our current site limitations 

18) Brian H.- Facebook (50:24):
I tend to get ink on my nib quite often. When I try to clean it off, more gets on the nib. Is there any easy way to clean it off?
  • Nib creep
  • you'll wipe forever!
  • some pens/ink just do this, embrace it

19) Chuck R.- Facebook (53:27):
How about what IS a standard international cartridge? In my limited experience, Lamy has their own cartridges, ditto with Shaeffer and Parker.
  • effort made by pen companies to standardize the many proprietary cartridges when they became popular in the mid 20th century
  • some companies adopted them, some didn't
  • Cartridge/converter guide on GPC 

20) Prashanth S.- Facebook (56:51):
What is the best part of owning your own business? What is the worst part of owning your own business?
  •  working with my wife, being able to pursue my calling, huge sense of fulfillment
  • "the burden", feeling crushing responsibility/duty to grow, expand, provide opportunities for Goulet team, provide benchmarking service, constantly improving, doing things better than competition, you name it
    • challenge I've embraced and it is gratifying to achieve goals
    • very difficult not to put everything else aside and work to death
    • life balance

A special thanks goes out to everyone who asked a question this week. Be sure you check out old Q&A vids if you missed them. One thing I'm curious about, are you liking when I post my notes with the questions? Visually, I think it clutters it up. But I can totally see the benefit of being able to scan for info, and also I can embed hyperlinks for specific videos and products I reference for your convenience. Let me know if you like it.

Next week I'll be covering a brand theme, this time: Clairefontaine and Rhodia. These are the oldest brands for Goulet, we built our company on this paper. Let me know any questions you have on them in the comments below. Have a great week!

Write On,
Brian Goulet


  1. I much prefer the notes with the answers, it provides a great summary of what's discussed, plus the hyperlinks are useful.

  2. 40% cake? MORE CAKE FOR ME! Those idiots can keep their pie.

  3. 100% agree. I often don't have time to listen to the whole thing in one shot, but will scan around to the questions I'm most interested in.

  4. #9: my first good pen was a very, very dry writer with an extra-fine nib and I honestly tried at least a dozen inks over the course of six months or so before discovering that Diamine inks write perfectly in it — excellent flow and colour depth, even in that really fine nib. I'd get a bunch of Diamine samples and see how they work. (There are over a hundred colours to choose from.)

  5. I definitely like it when you post your notes. If the answer is listed there, I can just forward through to the part I want to hear. And, your notes are searchable! So I'm more likely to find this post later if I really need it

  6. I really like the notes, too. Makes it easy to scan through!!

  7. Me Too! I like the very brief answers and more in depth discussion in video.

  8. My sister's F Lamy Safari wrote dry and would fade out a little bit when writing with light pressure (she's been using fountain pens since the 50's, so she has a very light touch with the nib). I looked at it, removed the nib, flossed the nib, cleaned the feed out very well, tried Noodler's Polar Black - still would not write under pen weight, was dry and needed pressure on the nib to flow. Remembered one of Brian's tricks from a video several years back. I pressed down (CAREFULLY) on the point to open the nib up. Did it several time and it started writing wetter and with only pen weight on nib. Problem was fixed. She was delighted with it.

  9. Sabina TrandafirMay 16, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    I really, really, like the notes. They make it easy to scan for content, which is very helpful for videos as long as the Q&As. I can do without them, too, if it's a bother to type them up. Even just the questions and the time signatures are very helpful.

  10. I definitely appreciate the notes. I can't watch the videos themselves, so it's the only access I have to your answers.

  11. Kristene CollinsMay 16, 2014 at 8:02 PM

    Happy Birthday Rachel!

    I gotta say, I get nib creep all the time, and in my EDC (fine nib Metropolitan) I love the ink in it soo much (Diamine Woodland Green) that I'm happy when I see the creep. It looks so pretty! But on my medium Metro inked in black it looks dirty. If you don't like nib creep, try changing inks, you might like seeing it better in pretty, bright colors.

  12. Unsolicited opinion, but I like handmade cotton rag because of the color, texture and absorbancy. Not a huge fan of ultra-smooth papers, but I can't see how choosing between Clairefontaine and Rhodia will ever result in regret.

    My favorite is the Rhodia Webnotebook. They are very well made and the contents are minimally exposed. Spiral notebooks give a flatter writing surface but the paper sort of dangles from the binding and gets dirty and frayed. The Webnotebook has the edge over the Clairefontaine Basic because the Webby has an oversize, stiff cover. But Clairefontaine has a better selection of colors and styles.


    Does anyone make something like a friction-fit replacement for cheap pen barrels that has a small nib and maybe a small push-pull converter? I like a decorative fountain pen as much as the next nibophile, but for utility work I'm not tossing a $150 pen in my organizer where it will be scratched up by keys, tools and loose coins. Plus fat, heavy pens make my shirt pocket pucker outward.

    It sure would be nice to pop something into a BIC stick barrel and cap it. Currently I have an Aventura and a Jinhao 699 that are doing utility duty. They work fine, but their finishes are getting beat up pretty badly. (Lacquer is an especially poor choice, since it never really cures and stays soft until it finally chips off.)

  13. Get some slip cases for your pens and you can store them in your organizer without worrying about them. There are nylon, canvas, PU (polyurethane), and leather roll-up cases that hold several pens, and zippered wallet cases too. Just beware, many are touted as being leather, but when you read the description they say "PU Leather", which is polymer, not leather. Just a marketing lie to entrap you. I would get a good case to protect your pens and use quality pens. A fountain pen that slips into a PIC barrel is not going to happen! No market, barrel too skinny for a converter, whatever. Get a Platinum Preppy for $4 which is a good pen and probably the best fountain pen under $10.

  14. I completely agree with everyone else about the notes. I'm time limited, and I know there are some topics I am not interested in (a brand name or ink color for instance) or I've already seen plenty of coverage; so the time markers are essential to make it easy to skip to the ones I want to see. And of course, the links to items mentioned in the video are massively useful.

  15. I use a Pilot Decimo for that purpose (it's the same as the Vanishing Point but thinner, a VP would work great also). They're not sold in the U.S. but you can find them on ebay & even sometimes on amazon. Mine has a brushed metal finish, it gets thrown around all the time and never shows any wear at all.

  16. (You use the regular Vanishing Point nib inserts in it, if you ever want to swap yours out.)

  17. soniasimone, these pens are built like tanks. My VP has shown no wear at all after over 10 years of use at work and home. All metal, nothing to crack or break. Seals very well. Great suggestion.

  18. #2 Thanks for providing such a great index of answers! I just this week needed this, though I remembered seeing it here recently and found it easily with your new system of providing a short answer, My Platinum Plaisir has the same problem. I'll now re-watch the video and try to fix it.

  19. Cool, I'll keep doing it this way then! I thought it might clutter it up, but if it's cluttering it with helpful info, I guess that's a good thing.

  20. Yeah, Diamine's some pretty good stuff. I'm glad that worked for you!

  21. Cool, that's great to hear. I'll keep doing it

  22. Sounds like you have a calling for nib tuning, TJ! ;) Haha, that's awesome though. I've done little tweaks like this on a number of my pens. It doesn't take much sometimes to take a pen from writing so-so to writing awesome, and if it's writing dry like this, that's the easiest fix. Just open up those tines a bit and you've got it.

  23. Well, that's the thing. I actually already bullet point out my thoughts so that I keep myself on track with such varied topics, so the notes are already there. I've been removing them all this time, so it's actually more work to take them out! Well, okay sort of. When I leave them in, I do a lot of hyperlinks, so that does take additional time.

  24. Thanks :) Yeah, nib creep for me is more of a "huh, look at that, ah well" than a real bother. I am honestly just so happy to be writing with my pens I don't care about the creep :)

  25. Oh cool, then I guess you see the shade of ink, huh? I've never heard of anyone doing that, that's pretty neat.

  26. One exception here would be the ones with matte finishes, those you need to be a little more careful.

  27. Yeah, I'm a big fan of the Pilot Metropolitan, too. $15, but awesome pen, well worth the money for a toss-around pen.

  28. That's great to know. It takes a surprising amount of time for me to do all this. Aside from the actual Q&A recording, I'd say there's at least 4-6 hours of prep work, editing, and post-production/publishing work that goes into each one. It's truly a labor of love for me especially as my company's rocking 23 people now. But it's worth it, I love doing this format and you guys really keep me engaged.

  29. Nice! Yeah, I could use a better system to index all the previous Q&A's, haven't quite figured that one out yet. But I'm glad the notes are helping, I'll keep that going.

  30. Sabina TrandafirJune 1, 2014 at 9:47 PM

    :) Yay, then!


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