Goulet Q&A Episode 40, Goulet Values

After announcing our Goulet company values last week, we’ve gotten tremendous feedback about how we run our company. There have been a lot of great questions about some of the finer points of how we make the “Goulet Magic” happen, so Rachel and I both wanted to open up and share some of the “why” behind what our company does. Some of it is about pens, but some of it really is just about what we believe and how we choose to run our company. It’s a great insight into our way of doing things. Enjoy!

1) Kevin L.- email (2:54):
From the outside it appears quite evident what the values of your company and the team are so why the need to put it down on paper and spend the time doing it?

2) Patrick D.- Facebook (10:13):
What are some of the unique traits that make up a Goulet team member? Much like fountain pen users are a unique bunch I have to think that those working for a pen and paper company are likely to be a pretty fascinating lot. 

  • we do have a pretty unique group
  • DISC profiles
  • strengthsfinder
  • all of our staff knew nothing about fountain pens coming in
    • we like that
    • gives empathy for our new customers, which are many
  • many are completely ‘green’ coming in, allows us to mold them
  • those with previous work experience usually come from a much less caring place
    • they love how we treat our team
  • Key traits of those successful here:
    • team players
    • self-starters
    • high moral character/trust
    • caring/empathetic
    • detail-oriented
3) Tristan N.- Facebook (24:45): 
Does the GPC has some internal competitions we do not yet know of? Like who can disassemble and reassemble an Ahab the fastest? Desk chair races? Hide and seek? The floor is lava? Who recognizes this ink?

  • We’ve done some office competitions before, but just for fun
  • Annual olympics
    • shooting water into a vial with ink syringe
    • ink sample speed test
    • Airzooka
    • silicone grease shuffleboard down our ramp
    • Lamy Box Jenga
    • “guess the swab”
    • “guess the pen” macro images of pen parts
    • pen trivia
  • Cowtails

4) Dan E. – Facebook (31:03):
1. Most of the decisions we make in life, the kind that help define us, the kind that we defend, these are challenged at some point. Now there are two basic types of pleas or arguments that can be offered in defense of anything; emotional & rational. When making these decisions and defining your values as a company/family, was the process rational, emotional, both perhaps?

2. I am going to my first pen show next month (the DC Pen Supershow). Will the GPC be represented there? 

5) Mate F. – Facebook (41:22):
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much is integrity as a company important for you?
6) Danny – Ink Nouveau (45:16):
I was just looking at my latest invoice from you guys and I was admiring Jeremy’s handwriting. It got me wondering if everyone there has good penmanship and if it’s an unconscious or unspoken prerequisite for employment. I myself have terrible handwriting, it’s kind of an all-caps scrawl. But I love the way fountain pens feel and write, even though I sometimes feel like I’m using them incorrectly because I can’t write in cursive. I was just wondering if I’m all alone or if anyone on your team also doesn’t write in cursive. 

7) Kate D. – YouTube (48:04):
Has the “Goulet Way” of doing things affected your life outside of the office, and if so, how?
8) @MobyProf – Twitter (50:47):I love the service week idea! How did that develop? What did you have to say “no” to to make it happen?

9) James B.- email (56:22):
Brian, one thing I would love to see is more about the choices you make for updates to your web site. Such prosaic matters as what video camera you use, whether or not to use professionals for filming, and just how you learned to do all the wonderful things you do. I don’t know if that has been or could be part of one of your Q and A sessions or something else, but I for one would be most interested.

10) Michael P.- email (1:00:00)
Your new values do not focus on fountain pens in particular but generally on supporting individuals in their writing experiences. Given this, it seems that your new values would support selling ballpoints, rollerballs, and other writing instruments. Is this something you are considering for your company?

Thanks as always to everyone who asked questions this week, it was an honor to be able to share what we do on a deeper level. Next week we’ll do an Open Forum again, so be sure to post whatever random questions you have in the comments below. If you missed any previous Q&A’s, be sure to check them out here. Have a great week!

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-10-11T14:04:37+00:00 July 18th, 2014|A Goulet Life, Goulet Q&A|17 Comments
  • Jim

    Brian and Rachel, many, many thanks for taking the time to freely share so much critical information about yourselves and the outstanding team you have built. My apologies for using "prosaic" instead of just asking about those "every day" or "ordinary" things that go on every day in your business. Chock it up to my being an old lawyer/professor who is still trying to learn new tricks. But despite my confusing language, your video blog today confirmed many of the things most of your loyal customers already assumed. You could not have become so successful so quickly without focusing on values that connect with a lot of people. And that is why most of us will never buy fountain pens, ink or paper from anyone else, unless it is a product you don't carry. You are simply the very best.

  • Sean

    Good video, but Brian and Rachel have room for improvement in making these videos together. I often get the feeling that they're trying to talk over each other and fight for time to speak what's on their mind. While it's good that they both have lots to offer, the pace of the conversation is quite jarring for me. Maybe some extra planning is required, or more attention towards "cues" so they can give each other a chance to talk and elaborate without interrupting each other. Just an opinion! Thanks for this video!

  • snedwos

    I jumped to the tattoo conclusion too, haha! Maybe because I'm thinking of gettin one. Most of the tools and inks I'm using in the brainstorming process are from Goulet, incidentally!

  • Jim, haha, it's okay! I honestly should have looked up what "prosaic" meant before answering the question 😛 I fell a little short of my own values on that one (#7). I'm not perfect, but I definitely do really try to live by my values, and run a company where we're all living by our values. Thank you for all of your positive affirmations. The fact that my team gave me such wonderful engagement and input is the reason these values feel so "real", because they're living them out right along with me every day. Rachel and I are only 2/23 people making Goulet magic these days, so the success of our company is impacted much more by what our team does than just what the two of us do! So our alignment and teamwork is what makes it all happen.

  • Sean, haha, ouch you're so right. The important thing to note here is that Rachel and I met at 17 and have been together now for 13 years. We certainly do have room for communicating better together, I think a lot of the trouble is that her and I spend so much time together and are so aligned that we often know what the other is saying and forget that others don't 😉 Not to make excuses, but it's unbelievably hard to work as a team to keep a proper pace when talking about things like this, especially on the fly. We do some preparation for these videos, but we can only do but so much because we're trying to also handle our daily business. Just getting the two of us together for an hour to record a video is tough! I would like to say we'll work on this, but realistically, don't expect it'll change drastically anytime soon 😛

  • Hey, that sounds like a good Q&A question if I were to ask one of myself: if I were to get a tattoo, what would it be? Honestly though, I've never seriously considered getting one so I'd really have to think about it.

  • Tom Johnson

    This is a great Q&A episode. The dedication and enthusiasm of both of you is dramatic, you should be proud of what you have accomplished over such a short time. Glad you substituted the Parker Gel and Ballpoint pens for the cheap crap that came with your kits. I have used both for years, the ball point Parker refills for several decades, and they are just great refills. Sometimes a non-fountain pen is called for, and when it is you need a good one. Great information presented here guys, good job.

  • Hi Goulets! Here is a sort-of-two-parter for the open forum next week.

    1) What is the best-selling single item you carry?


    2) What's something you carry that you feel maybe doesn't get the attention you think it deserves? (which doesn't just mean numbers – I mean probably you don't sell a ton of the M1000 but I think that probably gets all the attention it deserves, and then some!)

  • mike

    For next weeks Q and A: Would you consider having some nibs like your goulet nibs or edison's, twsbi's, etc. preground by nibmeisters and then keep them in stock? the way Franklin-christoff does with Mike Masuyama nibs? Or have an option where one can add "stub grind" or something to his cart and then take care of it for the customer, through a nibmeister, along with a warning that you are voluntarily giving up your warranty and that it may delay shipment by 2-3 weeks or whatever the wait time maybe. I think it would be a great service that many would love to take advantage of. I know that you have to keep good relationships with your distributors but binder, mottishaw, and pendleton, are all authorized retailers of pens like pilot, platinum, pelikan, etc. so I think at least some companies must be okay with it.

  • Natalie

    Yes! I would love, love, love this!

  • Christopher Norcross

    Hi Brian,
    I have two questions for your next Q&A.

    First, have you looked into carrying any products by Staedtler. They have a good selection of products, ranging from drafting tools to some nice fountain pens.

    Second, if you and your family were to dress up as fountain pens for Halloween, what pens would you guys dress as and why?

    Thanks for the great videos and running an awesome business!

    p.s. When will the TWSBI 580 USA arrive?

  • Alex at Goulet Pens

    Will definitely get those questions to, Brian! I do know that we are expecting the TWSBI 580 USA in late August 🙂

  • Alex at Goulet Pens

    Will add that to the list! Thanks, Mike!

  • ASP

    I'd like to use a fountain pen at work, but I don't want to use anything flashy. I've tried to just eye-drop a Kaweco Sport rollerball, but it just doesn't scratch the itch really. I ordered a Parker 21 vintage pen as you can't even tell it's really a fountain pen so I guess I'll see how that goes, but the pen doesn't do anything aesthetically for me. What would your suggestions be? I have a feeling you'll suggest maybe the Vanishing Point and/or Lamy 2000 as both have smaller/concealed nibs, but it needs to be an inexpensive pen (around $50). I do have a Lamy Al-star with a black nib and that sometimes flies under the radar, but not enough. Most appreciated!

  • Carol

    I learned from being on a worldwide team at work that there's a huge range of ways to share in conversations. At one extreme is talk like a series of solos: "Person 1 talks. Margin of silence. Person 2 talks. Margin of silence. Person 3 talks…Continue until all have spoken, then repeat starting with Person 1." At the other extreme is ensemble talking, like a jazz ensemble all playing at the same time, all listening to each other, throwing in riffs and taking turns playing the lead. To people from solo-talk cultures, ensemble-talk seems rude; to people from ensemble-talk cultures, solo-talk seems cold and unengaged.
    I'm sure that if they were talking to any of us alone, Brian and Rachel could adapt to what our responses showed we were comfortable with. Since the camera can't give them that feedback (and I'm sure there's a huge variety among their audience), we get to see their comfortable style, which seems somewhere between the two extremes. They do some simultaneous talking, some overlap, some interjected parenthesis, some cascading comments, and also some taking turns.
    I find their style lively and engaging, but then, I'm from more of an ensemble-talking culture myself.

  • Alex at Goulet Pens

    I'll make sure this gets added to Brian's list of questions for this upcoming week's Q&A. This is a great one!

  • 2010stoof .

    +1 for the herbin ink pads!!!
    They also have an ink pad stick that can be ised on the seal after its formed to color the letter, symbol, etc.
    Had a supplier before but not anymore. Im running low!!