An Interview with Manley Feinberg, 2017 KC Animal Health Corridor Homecoming Dinner Keynote Speaker


As the animal health industry converges in Kansas City for a five-day gathering, Global Animal Health Week, we took a moment to learn more about the KC Animal Health Corridor Homecoming Dinner keynote speaker, Manley Feinberg II.

Global Animal Health Week and the KC Corridor celebrate entrepreneurship and the innovators who are taking personal risks to advance technologies that improve the quality of life and sustain life globally. The KC Animal Health Corridor’s annual Homecoming Dinner, taking place during Global Animal Health Week, is an exclusive gathering of industry leaders from around the world to celebrate global industry successes and growth. Manley is recognized as an award winning international keynote speaker and business leader, author, published outdoor adventure photographer and professional musician. As the 2017 KC Corridor Homecoming keynote speaker he promises to challenge your mindset, arm you with ideas you can use, and inspire you to action.

manley feinberg kc animal health corridor

Manley Feinberg II, 2017 KC Animal Health Corridor Homecoming Dinner Speaker

Can you tell us how you got involved with rock climbing?

I worked for UPS in college, and my supervisor Mark Williams introduced me to the wilderness on my first trip with him to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky.  Within 24 hours, I had experienced camping and then climbing, changing me and the course of my life forever.

You take the lessons learned while climbing and applied them to your teams, seeing the improvement. Is that what got you interested in motivational speaking?

Yes, but it happened by accident and out of sequence in many ways.  I started getting paid to speak about my climbing experiences in 1995.  In 2001, I saw my first keynote speaker at a business conference and realized it could be done in a significantly more effective way, which led to me intentionally applying my Vertical climbing experiences to support people growing businesses.

What do music, rock climbing, photography and motivational speaking have in common?

Nothing, unless you want to be great at any of them.  Same with any life pursuit, personal or professional.  The common thread I have found in achieving any level of competency you can be proud of, or that helps you stand out from the crowd of average in the world is consistently stretching your comfort zone.  Embracing the exposure of living “in the Vertical” and “on the wall” as I call it, is the key.  Nearly everyone would agree that nothing great happens if you stay comfortable all the time, the challenge is how.  That’s where my Vertical Lessons focus, equipping and inspiring people to show up, speak up and step up every day.

How are you able to use each individual to help you connect with your audience?

Connection comes through authenticity, and then relevance.  You have to show up on stage the same person you are in the hallway, fully stepping into the best of you. That opens the door of human connection.  The how to Vertical Lessons must be relevant and practical, especially since many of the metaphors and true-life experiences I share are experiences that most people will not have in their lives.

You have gone from photographer, to rock climber, to turn Build-A-Bear into a FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work for List four years in a row to now motivational speaker. What has each experience taught you about leadership and growth?

Just to be humble and clear, I helped grow the company and get on the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work for List, along with a team of amazing people around the world.

Each experience has taught me that leadership and growth in any one area of your life usually has a way of lifting up every area of your life and creating momentum towards you realizing more of our potential to serve others.

manley feinberg dog kc corridor animal health

Manley Feinberg II and his dog, Haley.

What has been the hardest challenge that you have ever faced leading a team?

Going through layoffs when people you care about have lost their jobs, then in the wake of that, supporting people, and simultaneously re-engaging them to keep showing up at work, trust you and then step up even more to bring their best every day.

Do you currently have a family pet? Did you grow up around pets?

Yes, we have a dog and two cats.  Yes, we always had cats, and I got my first dog “Happy” for my 7th birthday.  She lived until I was 20 years old, and my wife actually got to meet her when we first started dating in college.

What animal resembles the great leader that you inspire your listeners to be?

I’ve never thought about this, but a Mountain Goat in that they embrace exposure, but I’m not sure they represent the leadership and serving other messages of my work.

Tough question!

What do you think about the KC Animal Health Corridor’s initiative of bringing together all these different communities to cultivate a climate of opportunity for companies competing in and supporting the animal health and nutrition industry?

I absolutely love the idea of people with similar values and heart unifying to “grow the pie” together.  More often than people realize, working with your competitors and colleagues makes everyone stronger if everyone believes in the mission.

What is the most important takeaway that you want people to take from your sessions?

What: Stretch your comfort zone every day.

How: By more intentionally building relationships in all areas of your life.

Why: Because it’s Worth It!

Anything else you would like to add?

Thank you!


Learn more about the KC Animal Health Corridor here.

Connect with Manley Feinberg II and Vertical Lessons on social media:





Leave A Reply