A self-described “insatiable people-person,” Texas native Maneesh K. Goyal is founder and CEO of Pineapple Co, a parent company to the number of businesses he’s founded in the last two decades. Those include experiential marketing agency MKG, as well as scenic fabrication and design shop Pink Sparrow. Goyal’s newest venture, Invisible Hand, will officially launch in the fall of 2018; he’ll be at the helm alongside co-founder Genevieve Roth.
His career diverged widely from his initial plans: Goyal started out pre-med at Duke University, then earned a Master’s in Public Health from Yale.
“While my journey to where I am today may seem roundabout, there are a few common threads, no matter the venture: an entrepreneurial spirit, an openness to exploring new things, and a desire build people-first organizations,” he wrote.
That openness carries over into his personal life. He and husband Andrew Wingrove, Delta’s Managing Director of Product Strategy and Customer Experience, open their sweet New York City loft annually for the infamous “Salad Toss Off” — a salad competition complete with celebrity judges and a grand prize of first class, round-trip plane tickets to anywhere in the world.
Please describe how and when you first knew you were LGBT+:
As with most, the recognition was a process throughout my early/teen years. I finally came to terms with my sexuality while a grad student in the late 1990s.
How has coming out and being LGBT+ at work influenced your leadership approach and style?
As a leader, I have a heightened sense of empathy and understanding. I value inclusion immensely.
Who are your role models?
I tend to look up to those who can use their public presence for the greater good while also maintaining a sense of privacy in their own personal lives.
If you could have any job other than the one you have now, it would be:
School principal or head of a cultural institution
The most important thing I have learned from an employee is:
Person first, employee second. Recognizing (and respecting) that notion can make an organization soar.
If I could tell someone who is graduating from college this year one thing I’ve learned, it would be:
Your decisions right now will not impact the rest of your life. Now is the time to try different things – and to learn to be OK with failure. Both will serve you well as you advance in your career.
A time a sponsor helped me take my next step:
When I was floundering a bit in my career and trying to find my way, a wonderful man told me to “turn every meeting you have into two others; get from the person you’re meeting with at least two other contacts to meet with. This is how you build your network.” It’s great advice that I heed still today.
My most important Ally is:
My family… I’m blessed to have their unconditional support
This person is my LGBT+ hero, because:
I have several. Right now, I am truly inspired by Team USA’s first-ever out-and-proud gay Olympians, Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy
My first job was:
I was a support staffer at an SAT-prep center (where I saved a year’s worth of paychecks since I was so impressed that I was finally earning money…and then the company unexpectedly went bankrupt, rendering my stack of checks completely worthless. Lesson learned!)
The best piece of advice I ever received was:
The hours of a day are the one thing that all of humankind has the exact same amount of… use them wisely.
My motto is:
Live in the grey (between the black and white).
The next big thing for the global LGBT+ community is:
Continued visibility at the top ranks of business and politics. Representation matters.
If you were planning a dinner party and could invite any five people from history, who would they be, and why?
Since it’s my party, I would basically choose five of the people I am personally most fascinated and inspired by: Mahatma Gandhi, Ryan White, Michelle Obama, Tim Cook, and Cher
What would be the opening song in a movie about your life, and why?
“Closer to Fine” by The Indigo Girls. Every single day, “feeling fine” becomes more-and-more of a reality.
The six things I could never live without are:
(In no particular order:) Nachos. My laptop. My husband. Sunny poolside days. My passport. My Indian heritage.
My favorite vacation destination is:
Bellport, Long Island
The three books I would take to a deserted island are:
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
My address book (assuming I have a phone!)