In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about Platinum’s 100th anniversary, price matching, and what Goulet Pens looks for when we hire!

This week:


1) jm_jeongmin- Instagram 

Platinum has a 100th anniversary coming up, would you expect something amazing like pilot? or maybe not because I read on the website that the 3776 century was supposed to be somewhat of a representation of it

  • Plaitinum has announced 2 100th anniversary pens
  • Platinum Platinum” inspired, from 1967
  • Founder Shunichi Nakata created the first all-platinum nib
  • Platinum Century “The Prime”, made of solid platinum (including the nib)
  • Obviously very expensive, $14k list price, limited to 100 worldwide
  • There will be a more affordable one made of sterling silver with a gold nib for $1400 list
  • Very different style of pen than what Pilot created, but each speaks to the history of the two companies
  • Platinum has a much smaller presence here in the US than Pilot/Namiki, so their anniversary will make less of a splash
  • I haven’t heard anything yet of lower-priced anniversary pens, but then I only heard about these ones this week! So more info could be coming


2) Marie H- Facebook

What is one ink you tried and was surprised that you liked it? What ink did you surprisingly dislike after waiting to try it?

3) Gregory D- Facebook 

How important is it to have lubricating or “eel” properties to an ink in a piston filler over time?

  • it’s not that critical, especially on modern pens
  • Nathan Tardif designed the eel inks for (mainly vintage) piston pens that were complicated or impossible to disassemble, and needed to have a smoother operating piston
  • the increased lubrication does affect the way the pen write, the lubricant is even somewhat controversial though Nathan disputes the controversy
  • I don’t have a whole lot of objective proof that it makes a world of difference, I think some people just like the ink that happens to be “eel”
  • other inks have increased lubricant (like Monteverde) but don’t draw as much attention to it
  • Noodler’s Eel and Monteverde are the only ones I know that have any lubricant designation
  • your guess is as good as much how much of a difference it makes! I’d love to hear those with experience using them over long periods


4) Samantha K- Facebook 

Brian, I’m soon to be a transitioning service member. As I complete my service to our country, I’m having to get myself ready to enter the civilian work force again. As a business owner, what are some key things you look for in your future employees? Does it come more from their resumes or their interviews?

  • Thank you so much for your service!
  • Fit fit fit fit fit fit fit fit fit
  • I hate resumes, they’re a necessary evil but they really don’t tell you much beyond if someone has the absolute bare minimum requirements
  • it’s so easy to lie, embellish, fudge a resume, and it tells you nothing of culture and fit, which is what matters most in a company like ours
  • interviews matter more, and we do them progressively to get to a deeper and deeper understanding of fit
  • Here are some tips:
    • Do your homework, give a crap about the company you’re applying for, read the dang job description and look at their website
    • self-awareness is key, if you say things in your interview that aren’t really you but you just think that’s what they want to hear, you’re fooling yourself as much as them that you’ll be happy there
    • if someone won’t hire you because of who you actually are, then good, you wouldn’t have been successful/enjoyed it there anyway
    • you should still bring the best version of yourself, putting your best foot forward
    • if someone only wants to hear the things they want and doesn’t want you to actually be who you are, you probably won’t love it there much anyway
    • the interview process is as much you interviewing them as them interviewing you, so do your homework, study them, and be very articulate about your qualifications, goals, and why you and the company are a good fit together
    • Obviously you’d be more successful at a place that loves veterans, so look for that as a part of their culture
    • there may be programs available to you to help place, train, or otherwise help you find work (though I don’t know any specifically)
    • Reach out to your personal network, who you know definitely matters and can make a huge difference in your finding work you enjoy

5) Josh R- Facebook

Would you ever price match with other pen sites? I really like Goulet’s website, selection, shipping etc. But sometimes there is a rather huge price difference that I just cannot justify

  • this is the whole thing with retail, right? Price especially seems so commoditized, but there’s a lot behind our website, selection, shipping etc that has real costs tied to it
  • We try to be very fair and competitive, not even charging full list price on most things (particularly pens), and staying competitive within the US market
  • I think I’m aware of what you’re referring to, which is mainly overseas sellers, gray market retailers and that’s sort of its own issue because they’re sourcing those products from different methods than we are, and in some instances we’d actually lose money on every pen if we matched prices so it’d be insane to match them
  • fundamentally, as a business owner, I have to set the vision for our company and what our core values are, our “why”
  • I want to prove that business can be personal, and carry on fountain pens to the next generation
  • we use these values to determine how we should operate, and what that looks like
  • Think of Simon  Sinek’s Golden Circle
  • “People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it”- Simon Sinek
  • Walmart, Target, Amazon, all built their companies on a low-cost model, low cost is part of their “why”, so it informs everything else they do
  • we don’t have low cost in our “why”, it’s not at the core of what we do
  • Business being personal requires us to have more humans and less automation, we take time to do personal touches like our slightly ridiculous amount of care, and handwritten thank you notes
  • We take really good care of our team so they’ll stick around, care a lot, learn deeper knowledge of pens and be a tremendous resource to our company, you, and the pen community
  • we spend an insane amount of time on education and engagement, which has a huge financial as well as opportunity cost, because it is part of our “why”
  • lowering cost, that’s a reaction to something others are doing, and it detracts from our ability to live out how we seek to operate
  • we’d rather lose some business due to undercutting than have all the lowest-price business and have to cut out all of the things that make us, us
  • the short answer is that price-matching isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s not us and not central to our mission
  • “The problem with the race to the bottom is you just might win.” -Seth Godin

6) Shilo M- Facebook 

Do you ever wonder if Goulet Pens could get so big that it would lose its ‘Gouletness’?

  • oh I don’t wonder, I think about this very intentionally, it naturally will happen that way unless I plan otherwise
  • size is definitely a factor, and could certainly contribute to a company losing their sense of who they are
  • Building upon Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle concept, it’s really like a cone shape instead of just a circle
  • as the founder/CEO, it’s my responsibility to be the voice of the megaphone, which means I have to be very clear, very consistent, but I’m not the loudest voice at all
  • lots of companies lose their sense of who they are when the founder flounders or leaves, and that absolutely could happen here, especially a company so tied to its founders
  • BUT, the fact I recognize this and think about it a lot puts me way ahead of it, though there’s a lot of work to be done
  • the kind of leadership required in order for a company/brand to transcend its founder and carry on is pretty much pinnacle-level leadership, and that’s my goal
  • my one metric that matters as a founder is will my company carry on without me, if yes, I succeed, if no, I fail
  • Speaking more about the interim, growing but me still being here, it’s my goal to ensure that as we grow, we keep our soul
  • The “why” needs to stay consistent, the “how” and the “what” can change and evolve over time and we still keep our “Gouletness”
  • we face challenges with this, like our handwritten thank you notes as an example, that get difficult to scale as we grow
  • We aren’t Goulet Pens because we do handwritten thank you notes, any company could do that and it isn’t unique
  • WHY we do thank you notes, proving business can be personal, is what makes us Goulet
  • The thank you notes reinforce our why, which is what makes it feel like us
  • HOW we do them can change, and has, but that’s okay as long as you still connect with our “why”

QOTW: What’s the worst interview question you’ve ever been asked?

Writing Prompt: Write out 5 things you love about your job (or current situation).

Write On,
Brian Goulet