Tools of the Trade: Holland Martini and Maria Vorovich of GoodQues

By Kyle O'Brien 

Tools of the Trade is an AgencySpy feature to help highlight the many tools that help make advertising and marketing folks successful. The tools can be anything that helps you perform at your top form, from your favorite drafting table to your best software program to a lucky pen, a vintage typewriter or a pair of headphones.

Next up is Holland Martini, co-founder and chief insights officer, and Maria Vorovich, co-founder and chief strategy officer at research studio GoodQues.

GoodQues’ deck of cards asks thought-provoking questions.


What is the name of the one tool you use all the time at work, and how does it inspire your work? 

One tool that we use all the time at work is a custom deck of playing cards designed by our research studio. These cards are anything but standard, as they are crafted to inspire meaningful conversations among friends, family, colleagues and new acquaintances. Each card features questions like, “Tell me about someone you miss,” and “If you had to remove one loved one from your life as if they never existed, who would you choose?”

These cards, designed with principles of psychology, empathy, and curiosity, serve as provocations that encourage vulnerability, authenticity, and human connection. They inspire our work by reminding us of the importance of asking good questions and fostering meaningful relationships, whether in a professional or personal context. The cards purposely avoid business questions, allowing users to engage in heartfelt conversations with various people in their lives, from partners and children to neighbors and beyond.

Why is it your favorite?

The deck of cards is our favorite because it transcends traditional workplace interactions and fosters meaningful, authentic conversations. Our company mission is to make research more human. Which is why this tool is so special—it taps into the human aspect of our relationships, whether professional or personal, by asking thought-provoking questions that encourage vulnerability and empathy.

We use these cards quite often, both within and outside the workplace. They serve as an excellent icebreaker in meetings or when we meet new people, helping to create a comfortable and open atmosphere that promotes deeper connections. Because the cards are easily portable, they’re a versatile tool we can take when working outside our home offices. Whether in transit, attending a conference, or meeting clients in a casual setting, these cards have proven to be an invaluable resource for building a friendly rapport with anyone. In fact, last year when we spoke at SXSW, we left them all over the conference for people to find and use later on in their lives. The deck of cards reminds us of the importance of genuine human connection and empathy, which is what GoodQues is at our core.

How did you acquire your tool or hear about it for the first time?

For a multitude of factors (Covid-19, technology, etc.) we noticed a contemporary problem that people struggle to connect with each other. In response to this phenomenon, we witnessed the rise of games in popular culture, such as The School of Life and So Cards designed to foster deeper connections. We were inspired to make our own deck to help our clients, partners and friends connect too. GoodQues stands for GoodQues-tion, which is to say that our company was predestined to partake in this trend. We designed a 52-card deck with 52 questions and we overlaid the traditional 13 ranks in each of the four suits: clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades. This way, even once you’ve asked all 52 questions, you can still make use of the GoodQues deck to play Rummy or Poker.

How does it help you be successful?

The thought-provoking questions on the cards encourage deeper, more authentic conversations, which foster stronger connections with our colleagues, clients, and ultimately, trickle down to their consumers. Additionally, these cards help sharpen our active listening, empathy, and interpersonal communication skills, as we learn to navigate diverse perspectives and emotions during conversations in GoodQues’ work.

Does it have sentimental value?

Yes. These cards help open us up to vulnerable and authentic conversations which therein helps create deeper connections with others. At the same time, they also help lead to our own self-reflection which have significantly contributed to our own personal growth and self-discovery in our work and personal lives. All in all, as we continue to use these cards with clients, colleagues, friends, and family, we get to create memories and bonds through these poignant conversations—all stirred from a deck of cards.

Do you think your tool could go TikTok viral?

Yes, we think with the right TikTok creator, our tool could go viral. Many of the questions are very emotional, such as “Tell me about someone you miss.” In the right hands, virality would be inevitable.

We want to know what tools you use to make you successful. If you’d like to contribute or know someone who would want to be featured in Tools of the Trade, contact and fill out our survey.