In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about how to compare paper, what he misses by skipping pen shows, and why meetings suck (but shouldn’t).

This week:


1) kolecoomer- Instagram (4:22)
What does Brian prefer…a heavier, more substantial pen? Or a quick, light weight pen?

  • it depends on what I’m using it for, but I lean towards heavier pens
  • I have big hands, so heavier pens don’t bother me, and feel sold in my hand
  • I don’t really love super lightweight pens, generally, but that’s not a hardfast rule
  • if I’m sitting down and writing for long sessions, I usually prefer a lighter pen, that’s just not as common for me
  • this is 100% personal preference
  • some of my tops: Pilot Custom 74 (22g), Pilot Metropolitan (26g), Visconti Homo Sapiens (43g), Lamy 2000 (25g)


2) @paks1969- Twitter (6:49)
Not fountain pen per se, but related. Do you have any plans to do an education page on the notebooks you carry? Like comparison tool w/bleed thru-ghosting tests?

  • I don’t, at the moment
  • oftentimes, the most distinguishing characteristics are pretty subjective, and I don’t know how I’d display them
  • truth be told, I took this question more to gauge interest and get ideas than to give a great answer! So help me help you!

3) coreyfraer- Instagram (9:30)
What are your favorite top-bound notebooks, staple, spiral, or otherwise? I’m a lefty, and they fit my usage best, but there aren’t a ton of them out there!

  • Rhodia is my fav top-staplebound, No. 16 and No. 18 dot pads specifically
  • Clairefontaine makes my fav top wire bound, the quality of the paper is fantastic
  • Maruman Mnemosyne has handy ruling
  • top bound notebooks are tough, staple bounds you basically have to tear off and it’s hard to use the back
  • wirebounds you can’t as easily use both sides of the page, and they’re just not as common
  • honestly, they’re just not that popular, which is why I think there aren’t a ton of them out there!


4) amyskretta- Instagram (13:50)
Which pen shows are you planning to attend this year? What about a pen meetup here in VA?

  • I am planning on DC, nothing else at the moment
  • It takes SO much out of me to travel anywhere and go to a show, I love it but it’s hard
  • pen meeting in Va has been on my mind, I’m not ruling that out by any means, but that’s likely even harder to make happen
  • can’t really do it on site, you have maybe seen the video and I don’t have a good way to host the public here (liability)
  • I don’t know what it’ll look like to host something, how many people would be interested (really), so it’ll require more thought on my part
  • definitely wouldn’t be a pen show, definitely wouldn’t be bringing a ton of stuff, it’d have to just be a hang out and play pens thing


5) @Archimage- Twitter (19:23)
Since you don’t go to exhibit at pen shows, what do you feel you miss out on by not going?

  • face-to-face, and all that means
  • customers, vendors, friends, it’s great to see everyone in person, selfies, memories together
  • I don’t buy things at shows, I’m usually informed or seeing things that are coming out from vendors in advance of shows
  • I miss out on some sales, for sure
  • exposure, not everyone who goes to shows is plugged in online
  • I can get real-time feedback in person, that’s cool
  • It’s a conscious choice, and one I’ve made for years to limit the shows I go to

6) @CavsQuizBowl- Twitter (24:55)
I would like you to talk about what are your most common types of orders. I don’t really need data. Do you get lots of beginners ordering a cross section? A hundred ink samples at once? Lots of cheap pens at once?

  • It’s honestly all over the place
  • there are some general trends that people who are newer to the hobby are often buying less expensive pens, maybe more of a cross section but often not
  • most people aren’t buying that many ink samples! just a few here and there with their orders
  • it’s so spread out, varied based on many factors

7) sammiethesammerI- Instagram (27:40)
I have a leadership question. How often do you have staff meetings and what do you use those meetings for? Do only your direct reports attend the meetings? Do you ever do company wide meetings?

  • we used to never have formal meetings. In fact, I don’t think we had a single “meeting” until we had about 8 people on the team
  • we have 42 people here right now, and everyone in the company is in at least 1 meeting a day
  • we’ve framed our meeting structure off Pat Lencioni’s format in The Advantage (Death by Meeting), similar to Traction by Gino Wickman
  • they should be relevant, clarifying, exciting, and contextual
  • 5 types: Daily huddles/standups, weekly tactical, ad-hoc strategic, quarterly off-site, 1-on-1’s
  • leadership team meets each morning to discuss pertinent stuff that day, then leaders break to talk about their teams
  • weekly, each team is meeting to talk slightly longer (weekly) context, looking at scorecards/metrics based on goals set by their teams/the whole company
  • broader leadership team meets every two weeks, to talk about company-wide issues, how to help their team members
  • senior leadership team meets weekly about company wide issues
  • strategic meetings could be standing or ad-hoc, based on team/needs
  • special other meetings might occur as needed, like carrying new products, special training, or brainstorming content ideas
  • company meeting with everyone, every week (with some exceptions)
  • 1-on-1’s with everyone and their leader each week (mostly)
  • this is a LOT of meetings!! but they all serve a purpose, have goals, and are effective, or we fix them or stop doing them
  • meetings should be more helpful than not having them, not just be “because we’ve always done it that way”
  • we don’t do them perfectly, and we’re always reevaluating

QOTW: How much time each day would you say you spend writing things down with an actual pen? (44:42)

Write On,
Brian Goulet