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Eileen McClelland

Do What Makes You Happy at Work



Joel Zeff is as much improv comic as motivational speaker.

A featured speaker Thursday at the American Gem Society Conclave in New Orleans, Zeff transformed volunteers from the audience into improv comics in their own right by demonstrating the importance of teamwork and generating lots of laughs in the process.

Zeff’s topic was “The Tao of Ta-Da.”

Clearly he enjoys his work, and has a message that resonates with anyone who has ever had a job that wasn’t a good fit, or ever felt energized by doing what they love to do.

His message is to do what makes you happy at work, if you’re in charge; if you’re not in charge, tell someone what would make you happy at work.


Disgruntled workers aren’t doing anyone a favor. You might be thrilled when they leave, but if they go, you’ll have to do their work, or take the time and money to hire and train new people, who may or may not turn out to be disgruntled.

When employees and managers are not having fun and enjoying their work, they become “Bye-Bye people.” They don’t care about taking care of the customer, meeting goals, producing results, or having fun.”

As Zeff pointed out, no reasonably sane person would get up in the morning and say to themselves, “I’m going to go to work today and I’m going to be pissed off and hard to deal with; I’m going to steal someone’s blueberry muffin out of the break room!

Yet, how come we’ve all gone to work at some point in that mood?

So, ask people on your team what they need to be successful, Zeff advises.

Everyone wants and needs money. That’s a given. But what else do they want?


“We all want different opportunities, some want more leadership, more of a creative outlet, more or less customer interaction, more travel,” he says.

If you provide these opportunities, “in return, think about what you’re going to get back. Greatness. A passionate energized team member who’s going to help you take care of your customers,” he says.

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.

So if you work for someone who doesn’t seem to care what you need to be successful, it’s a pretty good clue that it’s time to move on.

I had a job once that was dragging me down because I didn’t have the opportunity to do the kind of work that made me feel motivated. I needed more autonomy and more of a creative outlet to do my best work.

So I tried to explain that changing my job duties would make me naturally highly productive and energized. I seized every opportunity I could to show off my skills. But when it became clear that motivation wasn’t necessarily part of the company culture, I realized it was time to move on. And once I realized that, I found a job much better suited to my skills.


Today, I’m more motivated, productive and happy at work than I’ve ever been.

So, if you are in the position to make a team member happy and motivated and more productive as a result, why not try?

And if you’re in a job that’s making you miserable, do what you can to change it. Don’t give up.

“We all have goals,” Zeff says. “As long as we stay in the game, we’re going to be successful. It might not be tomorrow, it might not be next week or next month. But as long as we stay in the game, we’re going to be successful.”

The other key to motivating employees and fellow team members, is simple appreciation, Zeff says.

“Tomorrow, tell them `thank you. I appreciate you.’ There’s no expiration date on a thank you. It takes a couple seconds to say thank you.”

Consider the impact that this kind of work environment can have on your business.

“With opportunity and positive support, it’s amazing what people can accomplish,” Zeff says.



She Wanted to Spend More Time with Her Kids. She Called Wilkerson.

Your children are precious. More precious than gold? Absolutely! Just ask Lesley Ann Davis, owner of Lesley Ann Jewels, an independent jewelry store that — until the end of 2023 — had quite a following in Houston, Texas. To spend more time with her four sons, all in high school, she decided to close her store. Luckily, she was familiar with Wilkerson and called them as soon as she knew she wanted to move on to bigger, better and more family-focused things. Was she happy with her decision? Yes, she was. Says Davis, “Any owner looking to make that life change, looking to retire, looking to close, looking for a pause in their career, I would recommend Wilkerson. Hands down!”

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