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Keynote Speaker & Emcee

Joel Zeff

Fee Range

< $25,000

Travels From

Dallas, TEXAS

At a glance:

Joel Zeff creates energy. He is a dynamic speaker, improvisational humorist, and author. Joel's central message is that organizations and individuals should CELEBRATE every day successes to increase collaboration, productivity, passion and innovation.

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.

  • The Tao of Ta-Da: Watch What Happens When Work Becomes Play

    We’ve all witnessed the excitement of a three-year-old child. They celebrate finding a ladybug. They celebrate drawing a flower. They celebrate going to the bathroom in the toilet for the first time.

    Somewhere along the way, too many adults lose this sense of excitement about our lives and our work. Our tanks are empty. There is no fuel for collaboration, productivity and innovation. When employees and managers are not having fun and enjoying their work, they become “Bye-Bye” people. “Bye-Bye” people don’t care about taking care of the customer, meeting goals, producing results, or having fun.

    Employees and managers who have fun at their jobs are more loyal, enthusiastic and passionate. They sell more, communicate more effectively, take better care of customers and produce more sustainable results. And fun increases employee retention.

    In Joel's dynamic and motivational keynote presentation, employees will appreciate the value of fun in the workplace and learn how to make the simple choices to have more fun, and increase their passion and success.
  • Make the Right Choice: Taking Ownership and Responsibility for your Happiness and 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 and 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.
  • The Tao of Teamwork: Chemistry, Trust, and Risk Taking

    It’s hard to explain, but we all know what happens when a partnership or group has chemistry: it’s important in any relationship. When co-workers have fun together, they communicate better and connect on a deeper level. And when they connect, this creates trust, which enables individuals to take greater risks with the knowledge that they have their team behind them. In order for a company to innovate, it must manage risk well, and it can only do so through the prerequisite communication and teamwork. Joel’s interactive exercises train audience members to enjoy their work so they communicate better and ultimately, take more risks.
  • The Tao of Change: Flexibility, Reaction, and Persistence

    Change happens. We can either be open and flexible to it or let it steamroll us. Too many of our daily problems are not worth getting worked up about, but we react to these small events, and it impacts us negatively. We don’t always have control over our changing circumstances, but we do control our reactions. There’s only one reaction that’s not acceptable: quitting. You can’t quit. You may have to communicate your needs; you may have to try something new. But you can’t give up. Joel’s presentation reinforces this message through his dynamic interactive skits.
  • The Tao of Innovation: Creativity, Risk Tolerance, and Problem Solving

    Innovation isn’t a spontaneous occurrence. Innovation is often the result of individual creativity and initiative, as well as a tolerance for the risk that enables such change. Joel’s interactive presentation makes the argument that none of these can occur as effectively without the element of fun that enables risk. When coworkers have fun together, they are more likely to create ideas together, solve problems together and build great success together. Participants learn how to stay in the game, work in the moment, and help each other be successful by asking themselves a very important question: “How may I help the people around me become more successful?”
  • The Tao of Leadership: Communication, Positivity, and Patience

    A leader has to innovate (by tolerating risk and solving problems). A leader needs to know how to prepare for change (by controlling his or her reaction and never quitting). And a leader must communicate well (by creating a 50/50 communication partnership, giving details when necessary, and maintaining a positive and patient attitude). But first and foremost, a leader must set an example by having fun and enjoying one’s own work so that others can do the same. Joel’s interactive presentation will highlight this important lesson through concrete tips and tools.

  • Not just an emcee, but a KEYNOTE EMCEE.

    Joel is a sought after host and emcee for general sessions, awards night presentations, and other corporate events. Joel brings the same unique and powerful blend of humor, energy and business knowledge from his keynote presentations to his emcee clients.

    Joel has presented at more than 1,500 events. Hundreds of clients have hired Joel to emcee their general session or awards program. He has also worked as a television host and commercial spokesperson. Add a couple of thousand comedy nightclub performances, and you can see why clients love Joel as their emcee.

    Think of Joel as a Keynote Emcee. As an emcee, Joel uses his message, humor, and improvisation exercises (you can view those in the speaker demo) as mini-keynotes. Think of it as splitting up a powerful keynote into small modules spread out during the event. Some of the modules can be short (5 minutes) or a little longer (10+ minutes). Each module can include a short business message, but nothing too extensive.

    Don’t have time for the interactive games? Joel can act as a traditional emcee using his humor, wit and strong business knowledge to energize any corporate event with fun and laughter.

    Joel brings a different perspective on the emcee experience. Using his messages and improvisation exercises, Joel delivers more in the same amount of time. Joel knows the emcee can engage, entertain, motivate, inspire and deliver powerful messages. So, the ROI increases tremendously. Yes, Joel can do all of the typical emcee duties. And frankly, that is quite easy. Joel brings more. The ability to add message, engage the audience with interactive experiences, and partner with the client to create a memorable event.

    Everything Joel does is based on his foundation tools of humor and improvisation. Joel believes in the power of fun. To Joel, the improvisation games are the perfect form of comedic entertainment for a corporate environment. Comedy is a shared experience. Joel does not rely on stand-up comedy bits that may or may not work. The improvisation games are successful 100% of the time because the humor is based on three levels: the uniqueness of the game; watching your peers play the game; and Joel’s ability and interaction with the audience and volunteers.
Your presentation was a real hit and a GREAT way to end our conference. I heard nothing but positive feedback, and we were thrilled to have you there. I’ve told the Awards dinner story many, many times since I’ve been back.

—CenturyLink

I just wanted to let you know again how much our group loved Joel’s presentation at our conference on June 27th. He made such an impact on our group. They just loved him! He was definitely the hit of the conference. People are still talking about it.

—Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Zeff is the first person we call when we need a presenter that will motivate and energize a meeting while delivering significant business-minded messages. He always comes up with the most creative and fun ideas to bond everyone in the room. In Make the Right Choice, he uses that same fun and creativity to give us valuable lessons that apply to our professional and personal lives.

—Kimberly Cutchall, Executive VP Clear Channel Radio

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