John Goullet

CEO of Diversant

John Goullet boasts nearly three decades of experience as an information technology executive and entrepreneur. He is the founder of the IT staffing company Info Technologies, Inc., serving as owner and CEO of the business for fifteen years before facilitating its merger with Diversant, Inc. to form Diversant LLC.

Goullet began his career in computer consulting, coming up in the early 1980’s during which there was a massive shift in the world of consumer electronics. The personal computer became more accessible and therefore more prevalent in the workplace, and Goullet spent nearly a decade offering guidance to organizations on the strategic implementation of technology tailored to their specific requirements. He eventually became an IT staffing account executive, connecting businesses with the right IT professionals by assessing their needs and coordinating the placement of suitable candidates.

During his time in the field, Goullet recognized a hole in the market for large companies looking to build out their computing infrastructure. In 1994 he founded Info Technologies, focusing the business model for his IT staffing firm on working with Fortune 500 businesses. The company achieved remarkable success as one of the leading IT staffing firms, earning recognition on Inc. Magazine’s “America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies” list and generating over $30 million in earnings within just five years of its inception.

In 2010, Goullet chose to orchestrate the merger of Info Technologies, Inc. with Diversant, Inc., a rival IT staffing firm established in 2005. Together, the two companies joined forces to create Diversant LLC, capitalizing on the strengths of each entity and enabling the newly formed company to expand its presence while continually innovating and developing new solutions. The merger also facilitated expansion into additional industries and entry into new geographical markets.

Diversant LLC outperformed multiple market expectations, growing its revenue at a 17 percent compound annual growth rate and making a number of strategic acquisitions. In 2016, it was named by Staffing Industry Analysts as one of the 100 largest staffing firms in the United States, and in 2019 it broke through to the top 25. In 2021, Diversant was acquired by ACS Solutions, a global provider of information technology solutions and services. Through the acquisition, the company was able to further expand its scope and improve its scaling efforts. Goullet remains chairman of the company’s board and continues to provide valuable insights and leadership for the firm.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

I try to keep my day balanced, using time wisely to ensure that I am productive without burning out. Exercise is so important for physical and mental health, so most days for me start with time in the gym. I will usually be working out by 6 a.m. and ending an hour later. After that I will catch up on news publications and get ready for the day, arriving at the office by around 8 a.m. Unless I have a dinner appointment, I try to leave the office by 6 p.m., and once I have stepped out of the door my mind is no longer focused on work.

Productivity itself is all about time management and efficiency. It’s crucial to establish a structured and focused approach to your tasks and responsibilities. Efficiently manage your time by allocating dedicated blocks for different tasks and projects, and learn to get good at prioritization. I have found that ensuring your business has a clearly defined purpose is imperative to doing so—it provides a roadmap that can help you effectively balance short-term and long-term results. Being effective during your working hours allows you to take the necessary step away to recharge and prepare to do it all again tomorrow.

How do you bring ideas to life?

New ideas and innovative solutions often emerge through the simple act of staying informed. In IT where there is a shortage of skilled professionals—particularly in the United States where educational institutions struggle to produce a sufficient number of IT graduates—you have to consistently stay ahead of the curve.

This requires implementing a forward-thinking approach. We closely monitor the landscape of technology and labor market demands and try to proactively identify the emerging technologies that will be in the highest demand. In doing so we position ourselves to anticipate the evolving needs of our clients. Strategically, this means building a pipeline of skill sets that align with the client demands anticipated. New ideas come to life at the intersection of anticipation and action.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The proliferation of advanced technology such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, cloud computing, data analytics, etc. across a growing number of industries. High tech is an ever-growing, ever-increasing part of the GDP, and the demand for technologists is increasing all the time. As businesses continue to embrace advanced tech solutions, they will need skilled IT experts to implement and maintain these technologies. This uptick in demand has created a wealth of opportunities for IT staffing firms such as ours to connect businesses with the right talent. Successful high-tech implementations can significantly impact a company’s growth and competitiveness. Healthcare, finance, retail, manufacturing—practically every industry is looking at how they can best utilize these trending tools.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

Maintaining a healthy level of vigilance, caution, and preparedness, even during times of success or prosperity, also known as productive paranoia. Jim Collins talks in detail about this concept in his book “Great by Choice,” which I highly recommend, but basically it entails actively anticipating challenges, developing strategies to address them and avoiding complacency at all costs. Productive paranoia allows you to have the best of both worlds, combining caution and preparation with a commitment to growth, acknowledging the unpredictable nature of business. The feeling that our competition is always nipping at our heels, always getting closer, is what drives me to keep pushing the organization forward.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Enjoy the journey. I can’t emphasize enough how time passes like a snap of the fingers, especially when you are building a business from the ground up. They say that youth is wasted on the young, and the older I get the more I find that sentiment to be true. Every time I enter a new decade I look back on my previous one and am amazed at the clarity time can give to situations. I can remember the struggles I was going through, my worries and hopes and fears, and see from this vantage point how while the emotions I felt were real, the problems all turned out for the best. I would tell my younger self to be a bit less fixated on the future, and celebrate the wins of the present moment as often as possible.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?

Daniel Craig is the best James Bond. Say what you will about his movies, but it can’t be denied that his Bond is the closest to the character in the books. He brought charm and humor to the character while also maintaining a wry disdain for the job and his superiors.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Look at the best-run competitors in your industry and try to emulate best practices. By closely examining the practices and strategies of industry leaders, you can gain valuable insights that can benefit your own business. Analyzing top performers allows us to benchmark our own performance, assessing where the business stands in comparison to top players. This can reveal areas where you may be falling behind or excelling, allowing you to make informed decisions about where to allocate resources. By studying their strategies and decisions, you can also gain insights into what works and what doesn’t in your industry.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

Focus on your employees. The best employees possess a passion for their work, a drive to excel, and the ability to inspire and motivate their colleagues. They not only meet but often exceed expectations, setting new standards for performance and contributing to a culture of continuous improvement. Develop a process for finding and hiring these people. Giving key employees a stake in the firm, such as through equity or stock options, can align their interests with the long-term success of the company, boost their motivation, and help retain top talent by making them feel more invested in the organization’s growth and profitability. Empowering associates with training, mentoring, and management of newcomers can enhance their sense of responsibility and leadership within the organization, fostering a culture of continuous learning and skill development while also ensuring a smooth and effective onboarding process for new team members.

What is one failure in your career,  how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

There was a period of time in which I made some bad hiring calls, and did not hold them accountable until it was too late. I hired a number of senior sales representatives that never brought in or developed new business, and the senior executives I brought on usually worked in and brought with them a culture that did not work for us. Unfortunately, as with all failures the way to overcome a misstep is to gather what can be learned from it and move forward. I now have a better framework in place for both vetting job candidates and performance evaluations to ensure these things do not get away from us in the future.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

The introduction of new government regulations can be a game-changer for the services industry, opening up a wealth of opportunities for businesses that can effectively respond to and support these regulatory changes. A good example is in Electronic Medical Records. With the healthcare sector increasingly transitioning to digital records and data management, technology companies specializing in IT solutions for EMR are poised for significant growth. Indeed, overall government-imposed regulations in any industry often trigger a ripple effect of opportunities. As the regulatory landscape evolves, agile businesses that can swiftly respond to emerging compliance needs will be able to seize these opportunities.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Evernote. Talking about seamless interfaces, I love that I can jot down an idea on my phone and pull it up on my desktop later, or make a to-do list in the morning and reference it on my phone when I’m out and about later in the day. I save everything there from scanned receipts to big vision boards for projects. It does a good job of keeping me feeling “organized but not too organized” so I can have some structure in my day but maintain flexibility.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?

“Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War,” by Sebastian Gorka. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the global jihadist threat, offering a deeper understanding of the historical, ideological, and geopolitical factors that have contributed to its rise. It opens the mind to the complexities of counterterrorism efforts, and is a worthwhile read for those interested in the subject matter.

Key learnings

  • Lean into productive paranoia.
  • Focus on your employees.
  • Read a book by Jim Collins.