Maneesh K. Goyal: Do What You Love

There are people that say they’re going to do something, and then there are the people that say and actually DO it. Maneesh has always been an inspiration to me for that. From his humble beginnings, to his hustle, to his resilience, passion and attention to detail – the guy is unstoppable. When you think he’s done, you realize he’s just begun.

We met while I was working on Belvedere Vodka and were throwing an event at the Palms Hotel in Vegas for the MTV VMAs (remember the year Britney Spears trainwrecked…). As fun as the party was, I remember watching him check every last detail, run errands and ensure that the event went off without a hitch. You don’t often see the President of a company do that in our industry. The rest is history. He threw my Caliche Rum Launch parties in NY, LA, Miami and Puerto Rico and has helped with other smaller projects.

Over the years, he went from a business associate, to friend, to mentor. I feel blessed to have him in my life to not only serve as an inspiration but remind me that hard work DOES pay off.

He took the time to write for 3QT. I thought it was fitting to post it on his birthday! Enjoy.


I never had a lemonade stand or mowed lawns as a little kid. Never wrote code or cured an infectious disease as a precocious teenager. I didn’t even start a company in college, the way so many students have done in recent years that it now seems like practically a prerequisite for entrepreneurial success later in life.

The truth is, becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t something I necessarily planned for or aspired to, but, like most of the best things in life, it just kind of a happened—through a fortuitous combination of hard work, constant hustle, and a little bit of luck.

After earning a Master’s in Public Health at Yale, I moved to New York, got a job at a non-profit foundation focused on health care, and set out to make a difference in people’s lives. And we were making a difference; it was everything I could have wanted, but I wasn’t happy. Part of it was the job itself. While the people were friendly and the work was substantive, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing and that, if I wasn’t careful, I would spend the rest of my life with a job that just wasn’t meant for who I was. Part of it was also personal. I knew very few people in New York. I lived in a fourth-floor walk-up apartment with slanted floors, too many roommates, and only one bathroom. My student loan bill was bigger than my rent. And as each successive weekend came to a close and Monday mornings loomed increasingly larger, I could feel the ‘Sunday Night Blues’ gradually taking over my life. I had to make a change. A big one. And fast.

What I know now that I didn’t know then, is that this is not at all unusual. One recent study found that 87 percent of workers worldwide are “emotionally disengaged with their jobs”—which is really incredible if you think about it—and the problem will only worsen with the large influx of millennial workers into a corporate world dominated by aging leaders in senior management. Of course I wasn’t thinking about any of this at the time, I just knew that I needed to find something I loved doing that didn’t feel like work—and still get paid to do it.

So I made a list. I thought about all the things I could possibly do that wouldn’t trap me in a midtown cubicle for the rest of my days. I started to realize that I love logistics & details. I love organizing a lot of small, disparate pieces and fusing them together to create a larger whole, in the process bringing people together to create powerful shared experiences. I decided I’d better learn everything I could about the “events industry,” whatever that was.

I started to meet people. Anyone and everyone who might be able to help me learn more about this mysterious industry, and maybe help get a foot in the door. I picked up freelance event work with a few small companies, which turned into a few more jobs. I worked harder than I’ve ever worked before, said “Yes” to every opportunity, and tried to be nice to—and impress—everyone I met. You never know where your next opportunity will come from. I also swallowed a little pride: here I was, a graduate of Duke and Yale, running boxes for event load-ins.

The week before 9/11, I got my first break. I got a call asking me to work on Sean “Puffy” Combs’ MTV Video Music Awards party, back when Puff was at the top of his game (that’s how you know this was a long time ago). I only made a few hundred bucks for the gig, but I’ll never forget being in that room and thinking about how big and important it felt. I was hooked.

And then 9/11 happened. Everything changed for all of us. I was living in SoHo, and there was a curfew below 14th street, so I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted my life to look like. If anything, that time gave me the confidence to turn my back on non-profit work and immerse myself in the event world full-time.

A few months later, I got my second big break. I got a phone call from Puff’s office asking if we could talk about doing a New Year’s Eve party in Miami. I kindly informed them that they had most definitely contacted the wrong person, and that I hadn’t been in charge, but they insisted: “no, no, no, we know who you were at the event, and we want you.” And that’s how I found myself in Miami, with a suitcase full of woefully out of place turtlenecks and sweaters (I’d never been anywhere warm in the winter!), planning a New Year’s Eve party at the Shore Club for a hip-hop mogul.

The rest, as they say, is history.

It was tough in those first few years. My apartment was my office. I hustled constantly for clients. I used to answer the phone in one voice, put the call on hold, and come back on as myself. But I loved every minute of it; we not only survived, but have thrived through the years. Today, that little agency I founded, MKG, now has over 70 employees and offices in New York and Los Angeles. We count some of the world’s largest brands as clients, including Delta, Audi, Heineken, and Google. I’m sometimes amazed at what has grown out of this simple idea I had, way back when—that I wanted to love my work and be as excited to go to work on Monday as I was on Friday.

Of course I didn’t stop there. In recent years, I’ve also spun off two additional companies from MKG: Pink Sparrow, a Brooklyn-based design and fabrication shop that builds custom pieces and sets for brands and agencies, and 214, a boutique marketing and branding agency that works primarily with startups and small-to-midsize companies to develop comprehensive brand identities & marketing plans.

In 2013, I also founded Live in the Grey, a movement that challenges the work/life divide and encourages authentic living in and out of the workplace. Living a “grey” life is a philosophy that has guided me to where I am today. My work is my life and my life is my work. My friends are my clients and my clients are my friends. I draw no boundaries, and it makes my life all the more cohesive and fulfilling.


Last fall, I took the next major step in my entrepreneurial career by stepping away from day-to-day activities at MKG and founding Pineapple Co, a new parent company for MKG, Pink Sparrow, Live in the Grey, and 2014. Creating this platform is the logical evolution of my entrepreneurial interests, and it allows me to continue to pursue my great passion: coming up with new ideas and building and growing companies in service of them.

My new role also affords me more time to explore other interests, including politics, getting back to my roots with non-profit involvement, and angel investing. Just the other day I was thinking maybe I should invest in a new upscale lemonade stand. After all, there are very few lawns to mow in New York City.

It’s Tax Season: What You Need To Know – Pawel J. Sipika, CPA

Pawel is my stubborn Polish brother from another mother. We have seen each other through many adventures, agreed, disagreed, laughed, drank lots of Belvedere Vodka, consumed copious amounts of food and developed a very genuine, unique friendship. In many ways we are like yin and yang. His intro says it all!!!

Since it’s tax season, and he is a CPA, I asked him to write a post about what people need to know when it comes to taxes – something that seems like common sense but often is not. Enjoy!


When Brielle asked me to write a guest blog for her on the topic of taxes, my first reaction was: “absolutely not.” I mean I am not accepting new clients this year and the last thing I want to do is to spend what little time I have off during “tax season” to write about, of all things, taxes. However, this is Brielle Caruso asking me. If I compare myself to Ron Swanson, then she is definitely Leslie Knope. She is the super thoughtful and energetic person who always thinks about others and, what’s infinitely worse, she always wants to do “stuff.”  (If you are not familiar with Ron’s interactions with Leslie, here is a little highlight reel:


If I tried to break even with Brielle in terms of favors, then she could easily ask me to rewrite the whole tax code and I would still be indebted to her. Basically I have no choice but to get on with it.

The US tax code is vast and extremely complex. It would take weeks to narrow it down to the pertinent items and even that could prove futile because everyone’s tax situation is unique. With that in mind, I want to focus on some big picture practical items:

  1. Be guarded. By far the biggest issue currently confronting the IRS and taxpayers is privacy and identity protection. The IRS has dealt with multiple cyber attacks on its databases over the past few years. In addition there has been a multitude of email and phone phishing and extortion scams targeted at unsuspecting taxpayers. My advice is to guard your personal information closely. Keep in mind that the IRS will never contact you via phone or email to request information.
  2. Be organized. Dealing with taxes is tedious and time consuming. In my experience, the best approach to minimizing the painfulness of the process is staying organized. Get a folder and put all of your tax information in it as it comes in. If you retain all of your information electronically, then designate a location to store everything on your computer. Organize documents by year and be sure to have a reliable back-up system. Many tax preparers will provide you with a tax organizer containing information from the previous year. Scan through it to see if you have all of the current year information for all items reported on the previous year’s tax return. This will help you determine if you are missing something.
  3. Be consistent. Being a tax preparer, I obviously feel that using a specialist to prepare your tax returns is a smart move. However, there are many preparers who are just not qualified. It is extremely important to develop a long-term personal relationship with a skillful professional. It is unlikely that a tax preparer will save you money every single year but over time, a person who is intimately familiar with your financial situation will be able to offer planning tips and strategies that will generate significant tax savings. If you keep jumping from preparer to preparer year in and year out, odds are increased that you will not get the quality of service you deserve and lose money in the process.
  4. Be proactive. Many people only think of their taxes when it is time to file their tax return. Unfortunately, filing season occurs after the end of the year and there are very limited options for improving your tax situation then. Major financial events like job changes or real estate purchases occur throughout the year so it is usually a good idea to consult with your accountant before making any decisions that may impact your tax situation. The additional fee will be well worth avoiding any unpleasant surprises at filing time.
  5. Be cool. With increased complexity and third party filing requirements, it is becoming more and more common to receive tax related notices. Dealing with the IRS can be intimidating and unpleasant. I do not know of a single person who enjoys receiving correspondence from taxing authorities. For the most part though, there are fair processes and procedures in place for dealing with any notices or tax adjustments. It is extremely important to stay composed. Do not hit the panic button and do not contact the IRS immediately. Instead, reach out to your tax preparer and discuss the situation with them. They will usually ask you for a copy of the notice and provide you with a power of attorney form that will authorize them to deal with the IRS on your behalf. If you have a competent accountant, then there is nothing to be concerned about.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope that it will be beneficial to you in the future.

Pawel J. Sipika, CPA




Be Your Own Publicist – Advice from Meryl Weinsaft Cooper

I met Meryl almost a decade ago when we were both working on Belvedere Vodka. I immediately loved her style – efficient, honest, and a truly genuine person. She also worked around the clock giving a new meaning to superwoman. I have seen her grow personally and professionally over the years and admire the risks she’s taken. Meryl is a mover and a shaker, and the best part of it all is that she shares her wealth of knowledge to help people figure out their calling. I am thrilled she is part of my Friend’s of Brielle series! Enjoy.


“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll

I’m a sucker for goal setting – and the subsequent check-ins. Typically, I’ll make my resolutions on New Year’s Day. Use my March birthday as a quarterly examination and then summer solstice as my halfway marker. The fall (typically around the Jewish New Year) is my last quarter recalibration and ultimate sprint to the goal finish line for that year. I personally find it effective to do those regular check-ins as a way to make sure I’m keeping my eyes on the proverbial prize.

This year, though, I find myself more attuned on a regular basis to the changes and goals that I’ve set forth. First, there was a very good reason to look back and take stock. It was the five-year anniversary of my book, Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Skills to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work.

By way of background: I co-wrote it with my friend and fellow PR professional, Jessica Kleiman. It was a labor of love – and a huge learning experience. First lesson: Figure out what makes you qualified to do what you are doing. That’s the challenge our literary agent posed when we came to him with our first proposal. He helped us realize that the skills we had honed in our collective 30-plus years in public relations could easily translate to anyone trying to promote themselves in the workplace, whether right out of college or re-entering the work force after having kids, trying to start a company or move up in the one where you already work. Once we had the idea, we banged out a proposal in six weeks and about four months later, we had a book deal.  When Be Your Own Best Publicist was released in January 2011, it was met with a great response. We had hoped to help people at all ages and stages of their careers learn stand out in a good way at work.

Now, five years down the road, I continue to reap the benefits of the book – the tangible stuff like being selected as a contributor on to the more esoteric things like helping people – young and old – to accomplish their goals.

Speaking of goals – as my list continues to expand, I find it quite helpful do the aforementioned check-ins to keep myself on track. As we say in Be Your Own Best Publicist, have a plan and a backup plan.

But, if you find yourself adrift by mid-February, here are few things to do right now to get your goals back on track:

Look Back/Look Ahead: Even if your resolutions have gone out the window, there’s still time to make the most out of the New Year. (Chinese or otherwise!) I like to take some quiet time to write down what really worked over the past year and what didn’t work as well. From there, you can determine what to do better/differently/more of/less of throughout the rest of year that will make you more efficient and effective in your career and your life.

Be Thankful: Reflect on the moments — both small and big — that made you feel successful in 2015 and the people who supported you, connected you to someone else, and/or gave you positive feedback that helped you stay focused on your goals. Then, send those people a thank you note (handwritten is best but email is okay too). It may sound hokey, but they will appreciate it, and you’ll stay top of mind for them in the coming months.

Do What Makes You Happy: Most of us spend more time at work than anywhere else, so it’s important to be fulfilled in what you do. Think about what would make you happier in your career and what changes you might make to help you get there. It could be as minor as telling your staff that you need an hour of “quiet time” each day to focus on strategy and not be distracted by constant interruption or emails. Or, it could be as drastic as switching careers or starting your own company – that’s what I did years ago after doing PR in-house and at agencies for the bulk of my career. Now is the time to take a risk, make a change and figure out how to advance your career — and happiness — in 2016.

Be Your Own Best publicist website:
My personal Twitter:

We Are One – Rosemary Gibbons

My mother use to say ‘Show me your friends and I’ll show you the future.’ I have made a tremendous effort to surround myself with genuine, loving, optimistic and driven people. I truly believe your success will be in direct proportion with the company you keep… good generates good.

In my “Friend’s of Brielle” category, I want to feature the inspirational people in my life. In the last post, Dom Venneri ( shared his travel secrets – he has been to some of the most amazing places and spent time with pretty incredible folks. He inspires me to break out of my slightly neurotic planning mold and just be creative and free.

For this post, I am thrilled to share the story of Rosemary Gibbons, a woman that literally left her whole life behind for a much bigger purpose. Enjoy!

My Story of WE ARE ONE

by: Rosemary Gibbons


When I was young growing up in the Midwest, I would see pictures of children in Africa. My heart was touched and I wished that I could help them somehow.  Many years later I had the opportunity to visit a remote African country, one of the poorest in the world. I traveled to Malawi and saw first-hand the needs of children there.

While visiting a college in Malawi, I was invited to teach a course on Leadership. There was a need because Malawi had been under Colonialism and  then a dictatorship for many years. I had been facilitating workshops on Leadership Development and Team Building in the states, so my experiences fit the need there. During my stay in Malawi, I saw that people had been oppressed and living in fear of taking initiative and responsibility. The country needed strong leaders with the courage to stand up for what is right and they had to be taught; thus education was a priority. I also discovered what I already knew in my heart: that we are all a part of the human race and that there is a oneness that connects us.

In 1998, I sold my house, car and most of my belongings to move to a college campus in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. The joy of teaching those so eager to learn was beyond words. My joy heightened when I met a Malawian man who shared my desire to train up effective leaders who could take responsibility to make the country a better place. We were married in 2000 and set about teaching and training, with the knowledge of “we are one” in our hearts.


We also founded a nonprofit  501c3 which could enable friends in America to donate and help with our cause. We named it WE ARE ONE. Many have contributed thousands of dollars through the years which has created an opportunity for those who were living in vulnerable and poverty stricken conditions. The connection of people who give and those who receive creates a connection of oneness.

In 2002, a famine plus the Aids pandemic devastated Malawi and nearly an entire generation was lost. Their children were left stranded without care or grandmothers trying to provide for them. We felt led to adopt 12 boys who could be future leaders. These are now in high school and college. We also created a scholarship program and tutoring project which have assisted many to acquire a much needed education.


It has not always been easy, as I have encountered near death experiences through ill-health and robbery, setbacks, disappointments, and sadness. However, after serving for 18 years in Malawi, I can say that it has been worth it to experience positive results and to learn over and over that we are truly ONE.

Please visit our website and learn more:

We Are One Malawi Facebook:

Shhhhh… Pioneer Town x Joshua Tree

A lot of people will be mad I am writing about this, but whatever.
Palm Springs is the sleepy desert retirement city 1.5 hours from LA where my Grandmother lives and will probably die. It’s not all retirement’y, there also is a thriving gay scene, and a music festival called Splash House once a year where kids take proper doses of ‘stuff’ and electronic music plays at a few well polished turds of hotels. I’ve been, twas’ pretty fun. This is also a gross understatement of the city based upon my social circle, time on earth, and sexual preference that makes those past few sentences totally shallow and probably wrong, but that’s how I know it.
Anyway, back to the stars. So, you drive 38 minutes into the deserted mountain desert, and like a mirage, Pioneer Town appears. You’ve seen this place before, in fact, several times. Most every spaghetti western film ever made was filmed there.
The story goes:
Hollywood, ripe with the profits of Spaghetti Westerns, pours the gas on the genre and needs to film more, so they build an entire Spaghetti Western city, including prison and post office (yes, exactly like the ones Clint Eastwood walks down with the dust in his eyes staring at the bad and the ugly). Entire set, close to LA, equals more movies, equals more money. Math.
Meanwhile, the movie stars need a place to stay, so Dick Curtis and Gene Autry build the Pioneer Town Motel in 1946. You name the star, and at some point they stopped by. 17 rooms, in the middle of Joshua Tree.
The only reason I know all of this is because the aforementioned best friend of mine, bought this place, and I have visited several times. Oh, the places you will go…
This is why I am writing a story about it:
  • Westerns are badass
  • Joshua tree is vast and beautiful
  • There are almost no laws in this part of California because it’s literally in the middle of the desert
  • When you walk outside, silence
  • At night, you can see every star in the sky
  • Literally every star
  • Garth’s Boulder Garden
  • One time Garth was invited to a wedding in California, he was on the west coast, so he started walking, and by the time the wedding started, he had walked across the united states…Yea
  • The stereotypes of taking mushrooms in Joshua Tree, is a stereotype for a very enjoyable and enlightening reason
  • Pappy and Harriets – easily the best dive bar on the planet where world class bands come to play
  • I have never met someone I did not like in this city, and I have tried..ish
  • For the most part there are no cops, and therefore no rules, definitely tested this one and confirmed it
  • The Integratron
  • If this bullet point matters, you did not comprehend the ones before it
I have to stop talking about this now, I don’t want many people to know about it, but I will do anything for Brielle; like tell people one of my great secrets.
Here is where you should stay:
Low Key HospitalityPioneer Town Motel
Well kept motel – the only motel/hotel in the entire place, right next to Pappy and Harriets, owned by one of my best friend’s who brings in artists and events from around the world to spread good vibes to the world **Highly recommended.
Party PadPipes Canyon Lodge
Title earned with dense with psychedelic art and an indoor jacuzzi surrounded by 8 beds.
Boulders with Soul – The Boulder House 
I have not stayed here, but several friends have, and had phenomenal times, great for photos .
Love, Dom
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Pick of the Week: The DogPound


I love food. You will notice my slight obsession as you peruse this site. That said, after 34 years of eating, drinking and merry-making, I realized I had to sort myself out. In my younger years, I was very active. I earned a black belt in Shukokai Karate, ran track and cross country, was cheerleading captain (spirit fingers!) and if eating food was a sport, I would have been a gold medalist.

Life did catch up. My body changed. I started distributing weight…differently. I came to the realization that my blood pressure issue was partially genetic and partially self-inflicted. It was a come to Jesus and I realized: It was time to begin a solid workout routine. I’d like to think I’m a pretty disciplined person, but when it comes to anything gym/fitness related, I am a whiny child. When I mentally made the commitment to find a trainer  the world conspired to help me on this arduous task, and I happened to open up my latest issue of New York Magazine to find an article about Hugh Jackman (whom I love!) and his (drum roll) trainers. I thought to myself “Hugh is the perfect human so his trainers must be incredible.” I did a little research and had an appointment with the DogPound within 48 hours.

Holy hell. I never worked out so hard. The DogPound is no joke. The warm up started with burpees.

Their philosophy is simple: Break through your limits to reach your goals…and smash it!

So who are these miracle workers that craft the beautiful bodies of celebrities, industry big wigs, Olympic athletes and mere mortals (like myself)?

  • Kirk Myers – at 21 he discovered he had congestive heart failure and almost died. This was his life changing moment and has been helping people transform into their healthiest selves
  • Brey Pena – At 17 his father was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He could have went many directions but under some guideance from his brother, Dawin, who suggested going to the gym as a way to release his aggression, he leared to reflect and channel his energy towards building a strong, healthy foundation for himself. He has never looked back and with the utmost enthusiasm, this man changes people’s mentality on fitness with a combination of discipline and motivation.
  • Dawin Pena – Fitness has always been a passion of Dawin’s. He’s used it to build a solid foundation of emotional and physical health. His multi-tasking workout style, advise on nutrition and strength training modalities transfer from the gym to his client’s daily life.

These guys radiate positivity and genuinely care about their clients. Their innovative approach, devotion and pursuit of the best and most credible fitness info has resulted in quite a roster of clientele and loyalty. They are creators, teachers, givers.

The DogPound has become my badge of emotional and physical health, and for a former gym grump, this is a huge milestone. I cannot thank them enough for the transformation.

Check them out: