Joel Zeff: When Work Becomes Play
- Former corporate communications specialized turned improvisational humorist
- Helps employees reconnect with their passion and creativity through interactive, on-stage games
- Leaves audiences crying of laughter and armed with actionable insights to “make the right choice” in all aspects of life
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Joel Zeff creates energy. He is a dynamic speaker, improvisational humorist, and author. His interactive performances invite members of the audience to participate in hilarious improvisational exercises that illustrate Joel's central message: That organizations and individuals should CELEBRATE every day successes to increase collaboration, productivity, passion, and innovation.
Since 1997, Joel has inspired audiences from Wells Fargo to Samsung to KPMG and even the IRS. Yes, the IRS. Joel is a masterful public speaker and a nationally renowned motivator, lifelong humorist, and improvisational actor.
His career is a search for fun and passion. He quickly realized the importance of both at his first jobs delivering the hometown newspaper and cleaning up trash at a suburban movie theater.
He started his professional career as a newspaper journalist and public relations executive. In 1994, Joel went out on his own as corporate communications specialist. He helped clients with their employee communications, media relations, strategy, and customer marketing. Throughout the consulting process, Joel realized his clients—many of them high-level technology and telecommunications firms—needed more than marketing and public relations strategy. Many of his clients’ employees were starving for fun, passion and new perspective on finding success.
At the time, Joel was having fun on the weekends as a comedian. Through friends, he discovered improvisational comedy. One of his clients (a large technology company) knew Joel performed comedy on the weekend. The client asked him to play some improvisational games before dinner for a group of high level executives. He brought a fellow comedian and a corporate speaking career was born.
He connects to his audience with humor that has them laughing so uncontrollably that their mascara runs, their cheeks hurt, and their bellies ache. And he doesn't do it alone. Volunteers from the audience join him on stage and play an integral role in an improvisation game in front of hundreds or thousands of people—something the audience members have never done. He expects nothing less than their success. He expects the volunteers to focus and work together as a team; communicate effectively; positively support each other; and take responsibility.
Joel makes his audience laugh so hard that they forget about the corporate nonsense of conference calls, "strategic deliverables," PowerPoint presentations with upside-down triangles, or "paradigm shifts in a cross-functional organization." Make the Right Choice is conversational, funny, and very informative. Yes, Joel will make you laugh, but he'll also make you think. This presentation delivers a combination of inspiration, essential business knowledge, and significant ideas to help audience members reconnect with their own passion and success.
As discussed in his book, Make the Right Choice, Joel believes that we all encounter choices in our careers. We always have the opportunity to make the right choice to live a more creative, passionate, and productive life. How do you “make the right choice”? You can choose to provide opportunity. You can choose to provide positive support. And along the way, you can choose to have fun. It’s really that simple. Joel teaches us just how easy it is to make these choices.
When he is not speaking, Joel expresses his creativity as an actor, writer and comedian. He started performing professionally in 1992. In Dallas, he was co-host of The Movie Zone on UPN 21. He has appeared in dozens of commercials for numerous clients, including the Dallas Cowboys, Harrah's Casino, Mydiscountbroker.com, Time Warner Cable, Pizza Hut, McDonald's, Eagle Country Markets, and Extraco Bank. He has appeared in hundreds of corporate videos and has appeared on shows from CNBC’s The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch to the Fox Network’s Fox and Friends Weekend. His articles have been featured in The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle, The Kansas City Star, among many other mainstream media outlets.
Make The Right Choice: Taking Ownership & Responsibility For Your Happiness & Success. In Make the Right Choice, Joel shares his experience and insight on creativity, communication, teamwork, passion, and fun. With wit, a sharp observational eye, and playful irreverence, he discusses the choices we all encounter in our careers. We each have the ability to take initiative and make the right choice to live a more creative, passionate, effective, and productive life. How do your employees and managers Make the Right Choice? We all must take ownership of our work environment and create a foundation of opportunity and positive support. We can choose to be patient, supportive, and more flexible to change. We can choose to have fun in the workplace and still be productive. Joel teaches us just how easy it is to make these choices.
He connects to his audience with humor that has them laughing so uncontrollably that their mascara runs, their cheeks hurt, and their bellies ache. And he doesn't do it alone. Volunteers from the audience join him on stage and play an integral role in an improvisation game in front of hundreds or thousands of people—something the audience members have never done. He expects nothing less than their success. He expects the volunteers to focus and work together as a team, communicate effectively, positively support each other, and take responsibility.
Joel makes his audience laugh so hard that they forget about the corporate nonsense of conference calls, "strategic deliverables," PowerPoint presentations with upside-down triangles, or "paradigm shifts in a cross-functional organization." Make the Right Choice is conversational, funny, and very informative. Yes, Joel will make you laugh, but he'll also make you think. This presentation delivers a combination of inspiration, essential business knowledge, and significant ideas to help audience members reconnect with their own passion, creativity, and success.
Make The Right Choice: Leading Teams During Change With Passion & Success. It's hard to have fun and stay passionate at work during stressful times. Your employees build stress after each media report about economic challenges. Business today means surviving and thriving during a merger, layoff or the all encompassing "restructuring." How do managers continue to motivate and energize employees during difficult times? Managers must help employees stay in the game, work in the moment, and take ownership of their happiness.
Joel leads the audience through a series of exercises that demonstrates how easy it is to continue working creatively, effectively, and productively while dealing with change. This interactive and hilarious presentation will teach managers the importance of creating opportunity and giving positive support to their employees. Just as important, managers must allow employees to create ownership. Ownership and responsibility will allow the employee to care. And once the employee starts to care, the next step is passion.
Joel uses humor and improvisation to teach his audiences how important these simple choices are to success. During this keynote, audience members will laugh, have fun and be motivated, inspired, and energized.
Make The Right Choice: Energizing Your Spirit With Humor. Most corporations know they need fun, they just don't know how or where to find it. Fun is the most important commodity in the workplace today: Fun increases communication, productivity, teamwork and creativity. Fun gives us the energy to reduce stress and overcome challenges. Fun produces passion for our jobs.
Employees and managers who have fun at their jobs are more loyal, enthusiastic and passionate. They will sell more, communicate more effectively, take care of the customers and produce results. And, fun increases employee retention. If employees and managers are not happy and having fun, they become "Bye-Bye" people. "Bye-Bye" people don't take care of customers, sell anything, or produce results. "Bye-Bye" employees and managers come to work everyday; they just don't care because they have quit mentally.
The Strength of Laughter, one of Joel's most popular topics, focuses on reducing stress, increasing creativity and creating a renewed passion for our jobs. Joel discusses the key foundations of opportunity, ownership and responsibility, flexibility to change and creating a positive environment. He highlights the importance of play in our work lives to create balance. During the session, he takes the audience on a hilarious journey using interactive audience surprises. You will walk away from his session smiling, motivated and rejuvenated.
Make The Right Choice: Communicate With Passion, Creativity, & Energy. This interactive and hilarious session helps employees and managers communicate more effectively with each other and with their customers. Attendees will examine key skills such as trust, listening, teamwork, risk-taking, confidence, positive environment and openness and flexibility to change. Participants will learn:
- How to increase focus and be more prepared for change
- How to use the three elements of good communication: Details, 50/50 partnership, and a positive and patient attitude
- How to help your customers, colleagues, vendors, and partners feel more comfortable, confident, and in control of the message
Audience members will learn through discovery how a few easy choices can lead to more effective and successful communication. This session is perfect for any audience that communicates for a living, and that is pretty much everyone. From sales associates, to working with the public, to working in an organization that is spread over multiple locations, everyone will enjoy this session on communication. During this keynote, audience members will laugh, have fun and be motivated, inspired and energized.
Communication is the most important tool in business. Just because we can talk and write, doesn't mean we are communicating effectively. We must constantly refine our communication skills and become more detailed, patient and positive. Every type of business relationship—customer, vendor or colleague—rises and falls on the skill of communication. Joel, a former newspaper reporter and marketing consultant, uses hilarious improvisational exercises to break down barriers and explore skills such as trust, flexibility to change, opportunity, and listening. His energetic, humorous, and interactive workshop will help employees learn how to create positive, detailed, and equal communication that will build more successful business relationships.
Make The Right Choice: Learning To Think Without A Script. This session on creativity and teamwork can help employees and managers with a creative jump-start. During the presentation, Joel will focus on the skills that make teams more successful. This interactive presentation uses improvisational games and exercises to have fun, increase creativity, teamwork and problem solving. This intensive session examines key team skills such as trust, listening, communication, risk-taking, confidence, positive environment and openness and flexibility to change. The session weaves the creative process into the team concept, examining the significance of working together to create ideas, solve problems and build success. The exercises allow the participants to discover for themselves how teamwork and creativity increases productivity, makes us happier and builds personal and corporate success. In longer workshops, participants learn how to break down barriers in their creative process and how to increase their "possibility" box.
Part of the session focuses on the importance of a relaxed mind, increasing the possibilities, and overcoming fears and barriers to the creative process. The second part of the session builds on the symbiotic relationship between creativity, communication and teamwork. Joel discusses detailed, positive and flexible communication. Participants learn the value and significance of not only more creative communication, but communication in the creative process.
The entire session discusses the importance of teamwork. Participants learn how to stay in the game, work in the moment, and help each other be successful. Most importantly, the audience will learn the value of one question: "How do I help the people around me be more successful?" This session will show attendees how we can easily ask the question and act on it to create a successful team.
Team Building For People Who Hate Team Building. Tired of team building games that are silly? Tired of college kids leading your employees in games that have no message and no application to your business? Are you tired of building boats with cardboard and dental floss? Joel's sessions are about team skills including communication, positive support, creating opportunity, leadership, listening, trust, initiative, openness, flexibility, and creativity. His sessions involve the entire audience by creating a positive and comfortable environment. He leads participants in hilarious improvisational exercises that are fun, easy, and perfect for any level of employee. After each exercise, Joel creates a dialogue with the participants to discuss the messages learned and how to apply them. Joel promises there will be no boat building in this session.
Event Entertainment & Emcee (Comedy). Joel uses a unique blend of improvisational and traditional comedy for his event entertainment. His comedy is clean, hilarious, interactive, and perfect for any corporate audience. Joel uses the same dynamic energy and audience interaction for his entertainment performances as his keynotes. Joel can also customize his presentation to include your theme, key ideas, products, managers, and audience members. His entertainment is perfect for after-dinner, to break up a long day of education sessions or as quick energy bursts. Want to add more power to the entertainment? Joel can include some of his key messages to performance.
A few other ideas for entertainment:
- Energy Bursts During The Conference. Many of Joel's clients hire him to entertain throughout the day during the conference or meeting. Using the improvisation games, he can perform short energy bursts throughout the day to engage, motivate and excite your audience. The energy bursts can be as short as five minutes or as long as 20 minutes. Sprinkled three to four times (or more) throughout the day, the bursts give the audience a break to re-energize before the next speaker or presentation.
- Emcee For Awards Programs. Joel is the perfect emcee for awards programs. His humor and delivery create fun, energy and excitement. Joel has emceed hundreds of programs. He partners with clients to create memorable and successful programs. Joel understands how to recognize the award winners, and also keep the rest of the audience entertained and motivated.
- Conference Emcee. Joel is the perfect conference emcee. He understands business and he understands entertainment. Using all of his skills from his past work as a journalist, public relations executive, improvisation and stand-up comedian and national speaker, Joel connects and engages your audience as the emcee. As the emcee, he can do straight business, fun, and engaging or a mixture of the two. He can also use his bag of improvisation games to take the emcee job to another level.
Click one of these resources below for another way to find more speaker ideas for your audience.
Congratulations again for your success in delivering an impactful message in a memorable and entertaining way. You and your message were a hit with the Restaurant Managers, Regional Trainers and Consultants and USTL&D Leadership. Once we have our debrief meeting, I am hoping to find out if McDonald’s has a database for highly recommended presenters and vendors. If it does, we will be sure to add your name and contact information to it along with the positive feedback that we have received.
Thank you again for your professionalism, wisdom, and humor.
We will be sending a survey out and happy to share the results with you, however, from my perspective, Joel did a great job! He was prepared, worked collaboratively with our staff, and brought a good sense of humor and energy to our group while delivering thought provoking and positive messaging. Many thanks and will share anymore feedback I receive.