Dallas Speakers Bureau – Leadership Speaker, Joel Zeff on TA DA: Happy Employees make Happy Customers

I always start my presentations with a TA DA! The whole audience stands up. We count to three, stretch our hands high in the air and yell out “TA DA!” People laugh. Some audience members applaud. And then we do it again. We all need a TA DA.

After more than 1,700 events, I don’t think I have met one person who didn’t yell out a TA DA. I have seen accountants, lawyers, IT, sales people, maintenance men, truck drivers, surgeons, teachers, white collar, blue collar, and people from around the world all TA DA. If there is one thing we can all agree on, everyone likes positive support and appreciation. And that is the secret of TA DA. We all want to “TA DA!” We just don’t want to admit it.

Before I ask the audience to stand and yell out TA DA, I tell a story. We were all kids (I have no scientific evidence of this; I am just going on assumption). We built block towers and called them space ships. We rode a bike for the first time. We used the bathroom by ourselves for the first time. We tied our shoes. We drew orange unicorns, purple trees and eight legged dog/cat/whales. And after each glorious achievement, we yelled “TA DA!” We announced to the world and to ourselves that we accomplished something. As we aged, we stopped giving ourselves a TA DA. Every accomplishment didn’t have a triumph. That should make you sad.

We all work hard. And we still need a TA DA because it fulfills our basic needs (after food, shelter, water, clothing, WiFi, and Netflix). Like most things, you have to examine and look closely at the purpose and reasoning behind the TA DA. To me, there are five secrets of TA DA:

1. We want to feel appreciated.

Appreciation is our fuel. We desire more than a paycheck to be fulfilled and rewarded. During my presentations, I ask audience volunteers to come to the stage and perform an improvisation game. The more applause and laughter they receive from the audience, the more they do. We all want the appreciation from our team, customers, and managers. And we also want appreciation from ourselves. That is the first secret of TA DA. We are announcing to the world that we appreciate ourselves.

2. We want to be respected.

Giving someone recognition and appreciation means giving respect. We have worked hard, sacrificed, faced challenges and overcome obstacles. Sure, we want the appreciation. We also want respect. And if standing up, hands in the air and yelling “TA DA” doesn’t give you respect, I don’t know what will.

3. We want to be recognized.

Recognition is the third secret of the TA DA. We want someone to notice that we have accomplished something. We want people to pay attention. We want someone to react to our TA DA. We want to stand in the crowd and yell out TA DA so that everyone will notice.

4. We want to be triumphant.

There is a pomp and circumstance to the TA DA. You have to stand up; arms raised and yell it out. We are sounding our horn of success. We have finished a report, project, plan, or PowerPoint presentation with an upside down triangle and interlocking circles. We have defeated the dragon. We want to yell from a mountain top. We want to beat our chests and scream to the world. Since decorum is usually in order, the TA DA serves this purpose without someone taking you to jail.

5. We want a surprise.

When the magician finishes his illusion, there is gusto, a flourish and a TA DA. We want to be surprised that the tiger/assistant/plane/helicopter/seven of hearts has reappeared. The TA DA is always a surprise. You never know when the need bubbles up in you. You never know what really deserves a TA DA. The surprise makes the TA DA even more exciting.

There is no right or wrong way to TA DA. It can be spontaneous. It can be organized. The spirit of TA DA is what matters. Here are three recent ideas I have come across to show appreciation and spread the spirit of TA DA:

1. Tip of the Hat

To me, one of the best ways to show appreciation is in front of the whole team or group. Even better is when the positive support is spontaneous. At a recent event for Allstate Insurance, the host started the program with a segment called Tip of the Hat. The rules were simple. He put a four minute timer on the screen. During that time, anyone could stand and appreciate, thank and recognize another team member or group. The positive support, words of appreciation, and applause started the meeting with a huge TA DA. They start all their big meetings this way.

2. Appreciation Board

This is a variation of Tip of the Hat. I have recently seen this idea twice. There is a designated “appreciation board” outside (or inside) the meeting room. Attendees can write and post appreciation notes to team members, managers or leaders during the conference. During breaks, everyone is reading the posted notes or writing new ones. The best part is reading a few of the notes at the close of the event.

3. LOVE Letters

There are a thousand different ways to create a more organized appreciation program. PrimeWay Federal Credit Union in Houston has a cool program called “Letters Outlining Valuable Experiences” (LOVE). The program is simple.

1. Members or associates send a little love through an appreciation e-mail, phone call, letter or other medium.
2. Letters are collected each month and reviewed. A monthly MVP is selected and given a traveling trophy and a certificate.
3. Monthly winners are then considered for annual awards and prizes.

It is easy to put the TA DA into practice. Every day when you go home, think about all the people you met. Did you give the appreciation and positive support to those who deserved it? Did you say thank you? If you didn’t, then tomorrow send a note, e-mail or letter. Give them a call. See them in the hall and say thank you. There is no expiration date on a thank you.

You don’t need a budget for a TA DA. You don’t need permission. You don’t have to do anything, really. All you have to do is stand up, put your hands in the air and yell, “TA DA!” Go ahead. You deserve it.


For more information or to book Joel Zeff a Dallas innovative speaker, to speak at your event, click here.

About Joel Zeff

Joel Zeff is a national workplace expert, speaker and humorist. His spontaneous humor and vital messages have thrilled audiences for years. Corporations and organizations nationwide seek him out to motivate and energize their employees on such topics as work/life balance, passion at work, creativity, communication, teamwork, and leadership. His first book, “Make the Right Choice: Creating a Positive, Innovative and Productive Work Life” was published by John Wiley & Sons and is available on Amazon.


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