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The TA-DA of Ops Excellence: An Interview with Ops Summit Keynote Speaker Joel Zeff

We recently opened registration for our all-new customer conference: Ops Summit 2023, an inaugural event that, for the first time, will bring together customers of Crunchtime, Zenput, DiscoverLink, Squadle, and BrandMate for two days of learning, sharing, networking, and fun. 

The two-day agenda is filled with sessions with content relevant to everyone in your organization who plays a role in helping you achieve operational excellence. In addition to learning from Crunchtime specialists, industry experts, and fellow customers, there will also be dynamic keynote sessions, including The TA-DA of Ops Excellence: Be in the Moment with the Team featuring Joel Zeff. To give you a glimpse into what to expect from this session, we interviewed Joel, learned what the “TA-DA” is all about, and even got his views on some highly-debated food opinions.

Crunchtime: Tell us more about yourself and your background. 

Joel Zeff:  I’ve always been on the search for fun and passion, even as early as my first jobs–delivering my hometown newspaper and cleaning up trash at the local movie theater. My professional career started in journalism and public relations, and evolved into consulting. This is when I realized that, like me, my clients were starving for fun, passion, and new perspectives on finding success. Everybody wants to have fun, and sometimes we just aren't given the opportunities. 

I also have a background in improv! I was spending my weekends doing stand-up comedy, and a client asked me to play some improvisational games with high-level execs. And so my corporate speaking career was born. I like to make the audience forget about the corporate nonsense of conference calls, strategic deliverables, and paradigm shifts in a cross-functional organization. No matter who I am presenting to, I like to mix in a combination of inspiration, essential business knowledge, and significant ideas to help the audience reconnect with their own passion and success.

CT: What can attendees expect at your Ops Summit keynote session? 

JZ: Uncontrollable laughter resulting in running mascara, cheeks aching, and bellies hurting. Oh, and a few key lessons about finding success, working together, building trust, and creating opportunity. I’ll share my passion for improv, because, in reality, we are all improvising every day. Without a script or rehearsal, we face challenges, disruption, change, and obstacles. But overall, the main goal of the session is to laugh and have fun. I promise, there's no better way to spend an hour with your colleagues, mentors, and peers!


CT: The title of the session is the TA-DA of Ops Excellence. Tell us more about TA-DA, and what it means. 

JZ: Thinking back to my childhood, and when my kids were younger, we celebrated everything: every milestone, every moment, every day. So essentially, everything in life was a TA-DA moment, celebrating every single thing. You ate a cheese sandwich? TA-DA! 

When you celebrate with a child, they smile and gain confidence, knowing they have that positive support and reinforcement. As we get older, we tend to lose those celebrations, and we don’t celebrate enough, or even at all sometimes. Even though we’re doing great things for our team, our customers, our partners, and our vendors, we’re not stopping for those TA-DA moments. That continuous celebration fuels our passion and energy, and when we don't have that fuel, stress takes its place–we get frustrated, impatient, and negative, and don’t have enough fuel to reach our goals.  

So, the spirit of TA-DA is that reawakening,  and making sure we incorporate it and celebrate everything. 

CT: As a Texas resident, give us your perspective on San Antonio, and why Ops Summit attendees should get excited to explore the area. 

JZ: San Antonio is an awesome place for a conference! It’s a fun, relaxed, walkable town with great food and history. San Antonio is very accessible, and really easy to get in and out of. 

The location and timing couldn’t be better. The Riverwalk is beautiful, and the weather in San Antonio in October is fantastic. The Westin is a phenomenal hotel; you’ll walk out of it right into the heart of everything.

I’ve attended events where they just hand you the agenda; if you want to network, it’s up to you. The Ops Summit feels so different from that, allowing us to break down barriers, relax, and enjoy ourselves. We're going to have a lot of fun in San Antonio! 


CT: Obviously, food is a big part of everything we do! So let’s hear your views on some highly-debated food opinions. 

JZ: Oh, I could talk about food all day!

  • Pineapple on pizza?  No! 
  • Sub, hero, or hoagie? Sub. 
  • Is a hot dog a sandwich? Nope.
  • Crunchy or soft tacos? Good question, soft tacos. 
  • Cereal first or milk first? I don’t eat cereal! 
  • Is candy corn delicious or terrible? Terrible. 
  • Drums or flats? Drums. But, I will say when I was in Memphis recently, I was served flats and drums together all in one piece, and it was awesome. This is the way it should be done! Absolutely delicious.
  • Black coffee or milk/sugar? Black.


CT: What is something on your bucket list?

JZ: I haven’t been to Alaska–it’s one of three US States I haven’t been to; the others are Idaho and Vermont. So I would love to visit Alaska, and also Iceland. So my bucket list is basically cold places (especially right now, it’s summertime in Texas, and I’m just thinking where else is cold that I can escape to).

CT: You travel a lot; any furry friends at home waiting for you?

JZ: We have two cats, Freddy and Georgie. Both were rescued. Freddy was adopted from a shelter, and my wife found Georgie in a hole as a tiny little kitten; she heard a noise and noticed the kitten fell in the hole, so she scooped her out, and Georgie came home with us.

CT: What’s something you haven’t mentioned yet that will get us (even more) excited for your presentation?

JZ: This is probably going to be the greatest keynote of your life, and the greatest conference you've ever attended. Promise. I love getting together with audiences that have dealt with a lot of change and disruption. We're going to laugh. We're going to create energy.

And, if I haven’t convinced you enough yet, this video should tell you how pumped I am… 

Thank you, Joel! We're incredibly excited to have Joel join us at Ops Summit 2023. To register, or learn more about the event, visit opssummit.crunchtime.com.