The most important video I’ve ever made

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately and put a lot of heart into this video. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

*** Update as of 9/28/10**
 Thanks everyone for your awesome support. After a lot of thought and consideration I’ve decided not to leave out personal notes all together, just the elaborate ones I’ve been doing. I’ll write short messages on invoices to let you know I’m still here and I still care about you, I just won’t be doing the elaborate notes on Triomphe with the wax seals. Instead, I’ve already spent more of my time with my family and dabbling with inks and preparing videos for Ink Nouveau. Look to see a lot of good stuff from me in the future πŸ˜‰ 

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen viewing.

2017-10-11T13:35:33+00:00 September 26th, 2010|A Goulet Life|33 Comments
  • Brian,

    As much as we appreciate your handwritten notes with our orders, I think that we would prefer your reviews and other information more.

  • Brian, Congratulations on being too busy to continue the much beloved letters. Seriously, increasing your business 5 fold is a major accomplishment and you and Rachel should be so proud. I agree with Julie…as much as I appreciate the personal touch, it is very understandable that you need to prioritize your time. Would love to have a pen podcast! Just keep doing the great service you're doing and you will maintain your loyal customer base. Again, congratulations on your success.

  • Mike1000

    I've been through job burnout, and I can assure you that you don't want to go there, especially with a business that you love as much as you love yours. While a handwritten note enclosed with an order is a nice personal touch, your infectious passion for ink, paper, and writing is conveyed, through Ink Nouveau and your video reviews. You provide a valuable service to the community through this venue.

  • Brian, I'm happy for you and your family that your business is successful, and I know you care personally about the products and your customer relationships. I think your customers would understand if you eliminate the handwritten notes in order to maintain your overall level of service and product knowledge. They're a wonderful touch (though not a deal-breaker), and you still have other means of conveying your enthusiasm and product knowledge/reviews to your audience. I'd rather do business with you without the notes than have you burned out, which would serve no one (yourself, your family, your customers, etc).

    Perhaps a shorter, seal-less handwritten note on the invoice if you feel the need to maintain your own writing in the order?… (Not demanding just suggesting).

    Don't forget to enjoy life and breathe. Set some boundaries and spend some time with your family (without stacks of inventory in the background) :). If you say no to one thing, you're likely saying yes to something else.

  • It's probably a good idea to back away from a handwritten note with every order. Maybe, just occasionally include one as a special surprise for a new or particularly good customer. I think that concentrating on the reviews can touch more people than just the ones who've already made the decision to do business with you. The downside to that is the same as the upside though, you might get more business.

  • Paul

    It is great to hear that you have been so successful, congratulations! I think a lot of that success has come from the fact that you are one of the few online retailers (at least in this product area) that has embraced the media of the times, with your podcasts, blogs, video reviews, and the Write Time live broadcast. You are developing an online community around your business.

    I would rather you continue to do this and also continue to innovate, rather than spend the time on hand written thank you notes. The Swab Shop, Samplers, and Ink Drop are a lot more interesting for me that a note, and that is the reason I will keep coming back. Your value for me is to explain the qualities of paper and ink, and guide me to the best options for me. So far, it has been the reason that I return.

    One compromise you could make, regarding the notes, is to include one in orders over a certain price, i.e. $100 — of course, this could just be an in-house thing, not something you want to promise to the public, just "oh, s/he ordered a bunch of stuff this time, let me include a note with this one".

  • Lady Tortoise

    I sent you an email, basically echoing everything everyone else has said πŸ™‚ And if you feel the need to hire an assistant, I'd drop my day job instantly!

  • Anonymous

    Have you considered hiring someone(s) to perhaps help you with shipping things? My neighbor started his own business making eating utensils that looked like construction vehicles for little kids, and when the shipping became too much for him to handle on his own, he hired high school students to come in and package them and box them for shipping. I worked for him for a year – it was fun because I worked with a friend and we chatted while packaging things for orders. I don't know how businesses really work, but you wouldn't have to pay much and it may be worth the extra time you'd have for your family.

  • Anonymous

    Brian: I agree with everyone else that by concentrating in your videos and other media you'll help more people. I've learned many things and continue to learn with your videos. I'll keep buying from you.

  • You guys rock. I have total affirmation about the direction we're heading. Just an example of how effective the 'refocusing' will be, today I'm spending my time differently. Rather than writing elaborate notes to everyone, I'm spending my time testing and reviewing all of the new Edelstein colors. I want to pound out a video overview of the brand and have it out in the next day or two. Tell me that's not an effective use of time! πŸ˜‰

  • Anonymous

    Brian,

    The video reviews on this blog are what initially turned me on to your business. I was just entering the fountain pen world at the beginning of this year, and I found your blog's videos to be invaluable in learning the the basics about inks and papers. I am now immersed in fountain pen culture beyond what I ever could have expected. I am much more interested in seeing what you have on your blog every day than receiving a hand written note with every order. Thanks for the great work you do!

  • Lance

    I completely agree with everyone! The notes are nice however the sheer volume of them when I thought about it was staggering. It is not that big a deal in the scheme of things. It was only one of the many things that drew me in. I like everyone can do without them.

  • I saw Sapphire over on FPN and am not impressed. Something told me to go for Topaz. Oh well. Maybe I'll give it away on my blog.

  • Hi Brian: Just was telling a colleague the other day how cool the hand written notes were but that I didn't see how it could be a sustainable thing for your business long term. That being said, some of the inks and pads I've bought from you were the direct result of having my hands on them via your notes (Invincible Black & the Dot Pads come to mind for sure — I'd been thinking about both, and may have eventually tried them, but seeing that ink and paper on your notes had me ordering the second you had the ink in stock…). I like the idea expressed above of the occasional note: maybe for a new customer, or every now and then to a particular good customer… Thanks for all! -glenn

  • My feelings pretty much reflect those of everyone above, but I wanted to add my experience. I initially ordered from you having heard good things on FPN, but had not yet found your blog. When I received that first ordered promptly, well packaged, and with a personal note and some swab cards, I was very impressed. However, as I've come to follow your blog and the Tuesday night chat, I feel these are better ways to interact. So my thoughts are that the personal note should still be a key part of your business, but just for first time customers. Returning customers likely follow the blog and find this to be a better experience that the continued notes.
    I really enjoy everything you do, and wish you the best! Thank you.

  • Hey Brian & Rachel,

    I too am with everyone here. The notes are nice but not totally required. A hand written (and quick) thank you on the invoice (just "Thank You!") is totally sufficient.

    The comment schadowrider however does speak to me as well. I would keep including the swabs and maybe just a sheet of a new paper or something like that to keep us hands on with some of your products.

    Keep up the great work you two!

  • Raise your prices. Double them. Triple them. This will increase your profits and decrease your volume without losing what is special, which is the personal touch. You need to take the next step as a businessman and I think you only have two choices: raise prices or sell out to Amazon.

  • BING BANG BONG!

    I see how hard you guys work and really respect and admire the re-focus. You guys are doing an amazing job! Keep going strong! Love you both <3

  • I'm probably going to echo what others have said here, but…start writing "Thanks! – B" on the invoices, if you want to. I too was impressed with the handwritten note, but I wondered how long you could keep it up. Ditto the ink swabs in the packages. If your cash flow permits, consider whether there's a reliable neighborhood kid who'd like to make a few bucks helping pack orders or putting Ink Drop vials together, either on a regular or ad hoc basis. Where can you push off the grunt work (that doesn't need your personal touch, maybe just your supervision) and leave yourself open to do the fun and business-building stuff (that does need your personal touch)?

  • Anonymous

    I don't think I can add anything to what's already been written so it'll merely be an affirmation–I'd rather see well researched, well written and accurate color-corrected ink reviews at the expense of the hand-written notes although I'll admit that personalization is the sort of thing which has helped set Goulet Pens apart from the "others." But I'm still thinking a note to first-time customers might be time well spent, even if it's nothing more than a short 'Thanks for your business…Brian' on the invoice.

  • Firat Cingi

    Most of the brilliant ideas comes to mind, when the body is peaceful. Stress, pressure and weariness is the enemy of creativity in most situations. So, as a satisfied customer I ask you to lessen the workload on you (both) because ink-fountain world need your creativity. πŸ™‚

  • And I see Rachel is now helping with the note writing! Write on!

  • I can't believe I missed this fascinating time in your business's history. I think you should restart the customized letters πŸ˜‰ *J/k'n

  • You can easily research how wildly successful enterprises have turned into obscene disasters. Every mistake has been made in business and quantified in the literature. There is no reason to repeat any of them. You examine your customers, your goals, skills, motivation. You plot those lists against the time you need with your family, to stay healthy, and to stay sane. You get 24 hours. If you sleep and play with your children and pay attention to your relationships with your wife and your higher power, that leaves 80-90 hours a week to devote to your business. Can you earn enough money in that time to provide for now and a future? Need more time in the shop? What will you give up? Your faith, health, or your children?

    I can do basic plumbing and I can handle basic electrical but I prefer to pay experts because I don't have time or money to do either of those jobs incorrectly. You may do your own accounting and web maintenance. Even if you've got Quicken and iWeb, are those really value-added uses of your time or should you be paying someone so you can fill orders and write your wonderful personal notes? (Man, when you hit the big time in the global fountain pen niche, what will people know about you? Wouldn't you rather it was your handwritten notes instead of your re-engineering video?) Let's just talk about video production and photography. That's what I do for a living. Why would you want to learn how to do video well enough for it to be a viable economic tool for your company when you have all that other stuff to do? I'd do your video production for a couple bottles of beautiful inks and a killer pen or two. What are you good at? Do that! Engage and compensate skilled crafts people to help you succeed. Barter and trade with them or write checks.

    david boise ID
    see my video for Gfellers Casemakers' molie covers:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZUwmWlbwn4

  • You can easily research how wildly successful enterprises have turned into obscene disasters. Every mistake has been made in business and quantified in the literature. There is no reason to repeat any of them. You examine your customers, your goals, skills, motivation. You plot those lists against the time you need with your family, to stay healthy, and to stay sane. You get 24 hours. If you sleep and play with your children and pay attention to your relationships with your wife and your higher power, that leaves 80-90 hours a week to devote to your business. Can you earn enough money in that time to provide for now and a future? Need more time in the shop? What will you give up? Your faith, health, or your children?

    I can do basic plumbing and I can handle basic electrical but I prefer to pay experts because I don't have time or money to do either of those jobs incorrectly. You may do your own accounting and web maintenance. Even if you've got Quicken and iWeb, are those really value-added uses of your time or should you be paying someone so you can fill orders and write your wonderful personal notes? (Man, when you hit the big time in the global fountain pen niche, what will people know about you? Wouldn't you rather it was your handwritten notes instead of your re-engineering video?) Let's just talk about video production and photography. That's what I do for a living. Why would you want to learn how to do video well enough for it to be a viable economic tool for your company when you have all that other stuff to do? I'd do your video production for a couple bottles of beautiful inks and a killer pen or two. What are you good at? Do that! Engage and compensate skilled crafts people to help you succeed. Barter and trade with them or write checks.

    david boise ID
    see my video for Gfellers Casemakers' molie covers:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZUwmWlbwn4

  • Firat Cingi

    Most of the brilliant ideas comes to mind, when the body is peaceful. Stress, pressure and weariness is the enemy of creativity in most situations. So, as a satisfied customer I ask you to lessen the workload on you (both) because ink-fountain world need your creativity. πŸ™‚

  • Raise your prices. Double them. Triple them. This will increase your profits and decrease your volume without losing what is special, which is the personal touch. You need to take the next step as a businessman and I think you only have two choices: raise prices or sell out to Amazon.

  • Hi Brian: Just was telling a colleague the other day how cool the hand written notes were but that I didn't see how it could be a sustainable thing for your business long term. That being said, some of the inks and pads I've bought from you were the direct result of having my hands on them via your notes (Invincible Black & the Dot Pads come to mind for sure — I'd been thinking about both, and may have eventually tried them, but seeing that ink and paper on your notes had me ordering the second you had the ink in stock…). I like the idea expressed above of the occasional note: maybe for a new customer, or every now and then to a particular good customer… Thanks for all! -glenn

  • My feelings pretty much reflect those of everyone above, but I wanted to add my experience. I initially ordered from you having heard good things on FPN, but had not yet found your blog. When I received that first ordered promptly, well packaged, and with a personal note and some swab cards, I was very impressed. However, as I've come to follow your blog and the Tuesday night chat, I feel these are better ways to interact. So my thoughts are that the personal note should still be a key part of your business, but just for first time customers. Returning customers likely follow the blog and find this to be a better experience that the continued notes.
    I really enjoy everything you do, and wish you the best! Thank you.

  • I loved the note you sent with my very first order. Glad I got in "under the wire." And totally get it why you have no time for such things nowadays. Congrats on Goulet-let No. 2.

  • Though we seldom do elaborate notes with wax seals like I used to, we're still doing handwritten thank you's for everyone who is nice enough to support our business. It's the least we can do πŸ™‚

  • NOOOOO!Β 

  • Lawrence Chiou

    I've only recently jumped onto the Goulet Pens train and thus have little idea of what Goulet Pens looked like in the early days aside from what has been shared on this site (I was still in high school!). Watching this video from three years ago makes me filled with awe at how much Goulet Pens has evolved in just a few short years, from a hectic two-person operation to a much larger, streamlined (but still hectic?) business. To steal a phrase from Brian's book, "Write on!"