What is Your Answer to the Question: “What’s Next?”

000001-R1-00-00A_editedSeems like right after you complete a big project, or accomplish a huge goal, one of the first things people say to you is, “So, what’s next?” I have been hearing that a lot lately.  I trust that it’s a well-meaning question.  Of course people who know and love you are genuinely interested in your life, and what you might like to do in the future…I mean, that’s fair…right?  But what if you just don’t know?

The fact is I do feel a little pressure to know, “What’s next?” Have you ever felt this way? Maybe it is because I have successful Mentors who have always instilled in my mind that I need to set a big audacious goal, plan ahead, set things up for my future, keep things moving and so on.

Having spent the better part of the last 5 years focused on all things, Small Message, Big Impact (Penguin/Portfolio), writing the book, getting the deal done, launching the book… twice (LOL), promoting the book, the audiobook, the online training course, the international book launch, etc., plus helping to put on a huge charity event for Olive Crest, I must confess, I need a little break from heavy duty “output!”

Hmmm, taking a break — a little time to pause, and reflect.  Enjoy the fruits of your labor? This seems like a reasonable thing to do, but do you ever struggle with actually doing it?

I think I do. Sometimes.

A break gives you the time and space so that something new can come in, while you recharge your batteries, right?

Of course, as you read this, you may hear a little voice inside your head saying, “Well, how long is that going to take?” A day, a week, a month, a year? What are you going to do?  How are you going to do it? (Trust me: The “let’s get things done girl” inside of me really has a field day with these questions at about 3AM when I can’t sleep.)

Apparently, F. Scott Fitzgerald had the same feelings, about “What’s next?” When he said:

“I am not sure what I’ll do, but – well, I want to go places and see people.  I want my mind to grow. I want to live where things happen on a big scale”.

 For now, I am still traveling, speaking and moving forward with all things “Sjodin Communications” and at the same time, taking a little break from heavy duty “output!”

How? My thought is there is no need to go crazy. You don’t have to quit your job, take a yearlong vacation, or move to another state. Try taking little time outs (think: baby steps).

Here’s a simple list of 3 things I have been doing to explore possible “what’s next” pathways (So far they are working for me. I hope they can help you figure out what works for you…):

 1. Watch “outside the box” Speakers, and attend conferences where thought leaders share new ideas. 

There are some great Ted talks online! I loved Dave Grohl’s, SXSW 2013 Music Festival keynote speech. (Watch on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Efv0Y5Fs7m4)

(Warning: He does use language that may be offensive to some people, but try and overlook that. Don’t judge, just listen. It is raw, authentic, and you will get great nuggets from his story.)

 2.  Commit to creating conversations with people that explore the idea of doing “something different.” –The crazy no limits kind of conversations. (If money were no object, and you had the time, and the freedom to do whatever you wanted, what would you want to do with the next year or 2?

My friend Jana Stanfield put it simply in a song: What would I do today, if I were brave?

Ask yourself this question, and then ask your friends and Mentors as well, maybe over a nice relaxing dinner. You will be dazzled by the answers you hear, and it may just help you learn more about the people you love while you discover things about yourself!

3. Get back to nature, reconnect with Mother Earth and let your mind wander…

My favorites: chilling out and reading a great book in my tree-house, walks on the beach, any path through nature: hills, forest, farmland, it doesn’t matter, I love them all! If you want to go off the grid, take a friend, and share the experience.

I am grateful for the crazy amazing experiences I have had, the wonderful people I have met, lessons I’ve learned, and the wild ride that comes with launching big projects. I am excited about the future, and like F. Scott Fitzgerald said, I want to go places, see people, and live where big things happen…

I am not sure yet, “what is next,” and maybe you aren’t either. I will figure it out. I am pretty sure it’s okay to not know. The point of this missive today is, we all just need to give ourselves permission to take an “output – time out” every once in a while, to see where the road (and our imaginations) may take us!

I am learning (albeit slowly) that pretty cool things will “show up” when we give them the time and space to do so.   TS

Reach Out To Your Prospects Before The “Holiday Chill”

C’mon!  You can do it!  One more big effort to reach out to 25 (or more) special handpicked prospects before the “Holiday Chill”!


It’s coming! The “Holiday Chill” – that special time of year when we all “wind-down” and hope to enjoy the Christmas and New Year’s Holiday “break.” But it’s not that time…yet! So let’s get inspired! 

Terri’s Top 10 list of things you can do to reach out to new and existing clients and keep the pipeline full before the “Holiday Chill”!  (Note: Have fun with it!)

1. Hand-write. Don’t  just send generic holiday cards with custom engraving and no personal sentiment or note…that’s just checking the box, and I don’t think it makes any impression at all except to say… you are one in a large stack of people on my holiday card list.  So boring!  You don’t have to write a novel, just a line or two with a nice “hello” and your real signature. 

2. A simple polite gesture goes a long way. The holidays can be a stressful time of year. Sometimes a random act of kindness goes a long way. Someone whose attention you have been trying to grab may acknowledge and remember your effort.

3. Pick up the phone. A simple phone call to some of your existing clients during this time of year can help keep you top of mind for future business.  Often you will just get a person’s voicemail – So what? Leave a nice message. For example, “Hi Bob, its Terri Sjodin, just wanted to reach out and say, “Hello” – and wish you a very Merry Christmas! (New Year, belated Hanukkah, whatever you feel appropriate.) Hope we can connect when your schedule permits.  I still love the good old fashion telephone (949)723-3132.” 

4. Network (gracefully) at holiday events. Use your holiday social calendar as an opportunity to put yourself in new environments and social circles. It’s okay to share with others what you do, and how you can be of service, just remember; be gracious and respectful of your environment. “Don’t scare the bunny!”  It’s okay to explain briefly how you might be of help to someone, but don’t go into a big sales pitch. 

5. Send treats. Pick 10 people that you want to send a tiny treat to. (I find that sending a small treat is often just as good as or better than a big gift!) 

For example: Burn a CD of your favorite holiday tunes to share with others, send just one nice cookie,  little chocolates, an ornament, homemade goodies, or a New Year’s holiday streamer package…you get it. (The goal here is to share a warm and friendly gesture that helps you “stand out” from the masses.  Note: Only do what represents your style and your voice.)

6. Hire a ride or provide the ride. Going to the same party? Add a touch of class and offer to go together in style. Hiring a chauffeur or car can allow for more connection time to and from parties – not to mention it can be safer. Not in the budget? Offer to be the designated driver and provide the selfless service of forgoing the open bar to have the time with those select passengers!

7. Integrate your activities. This is a busy time of year for everyone so why not try to mix a little business with family. Going to a tree lighting? Invite a client and their family to join you and yours. Catching a holiday movie? Extend the invitation to your business contacts. This is the one time of year we all become a bit more social than usual together anyway, so why not just ask. Either way you’ll be remembered for the thought!

8. Start setting up meetings NOW for the New Year. Believe it or not, calendars are already filling up for Q1. Why not try and schedule as many meetings as possible in January to kick off the New Year and set yourself up to meet your goals for 2014?

9. Remember your persuasive arguments on why someone needs you, your service, or your company. The holidays are chaotic; why not address your clients and prospects needs. How can you save them time? Money? Mental sanity?

10. Go for class and substance. You can’t be everywhere at once and chances are you are turning down invitations. Choose the parties that will provide the greatest return on that which is the highest value for you right now and be fully present. Can’t make it to another event or party? Send a note or something festive in your place. Follow-up with the hosts of the parties you attend to properly thank them. (Remember they are the connector to everyone else that was in the room!)

**Bonus. Give. Be a part of something that helps others. In addition to being a great thing to do, this is a smart business move and an opportunity to engage clients and prospects. Do something that fits who you are and your company’s style. Then get involved and invite others to join you. Use your social media and Q4 newsletter to share what you were a part of.  It will also help others to get to know you from a different perspective, and make a stronger connection with you. 

For example, Sjodin Communications was a proud sponsor of the Olive Crest: Sadie Hawkins Fall on the Farm event held at Tanaka Farms in Irvine, CA on October 5th. It was a beautiful evening, with great music and fun activities. (There was even a Hay ride, a hitch’n booth, kissing booth, and more!) The goal of this “Friend-raiser/ Fundraiser” was to develop a multi-generational event to introduce more  Gen X and Gen Y donors to the work that Olive Crest does in Orange County (Olive Crest is dedicated to Preventing child abuse, to Treating and Educating at-risk children and to Preserving the family… “One Life at a Time.”® For more information on Olive Crest please visit: http://www.olivecrest.org/)

Check out the 3 minute video clip from the event (Courtesy of Dani Thompson, DNT Entertainment)!

Want more content and inspirational nuggets? Join our Presenters’ Post Quarterly Newsletter. For more information, or to join now, visit: http://www.sjodincommunications.com/pilot.asp?pg=Order_Newsletter

Wishing you a Wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend!



Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for the gifts of the past year and to think about all the special people who have touched our lives.  So, we want to take this moment to let you know how much we sincerely appreciate you!


Sjodin Communications celebrated our 23rd anniversary on November 15th!   That we have made it this far seems, at times, astounding.  We have many people to thank, including you, for our growth over the years, and just want you to know how much your kindness and support means to us.  Thank you!

As the holiday season begins, we wish you and your family great joy.  May today and everyday be blessed with simple quiet moments of Thanksgiving.


Kick this Fall off with a few “Recommended Readings”

In my industry, I have the pleasure of meeting wonderful speakers and thought leaders from all walks of life. As a result, it turns out that three of my friends all have books coming out this month: Dan Schawbel, Jeffrey Gitomer and Shep Hyken. (You’ve gotta support your friends, right?) So, I wanted to take a moment and introduce you to their material. To follow, please find a little info about all three for your consideration. They are all very different and offer unique messages for today’s competitive market. Check ‘em out! Enjoy! TS

Promote-Yourself-3D-CoverPromote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success by Dan Schawbel. How people perceive you at work has always been vital to a successful career. Now with the Internet, social media, and the unrelenting hum of 24/7 business, the ability to brand and promote yourself effectively has become absolutely essential. No matter how talented you are, it doesn’t matter unless managers can see those talents and think of you as an invaluable employee, a game-changing manager, or the person whose name is synonymous with success. So, how do you stand out and get ahead? To learn more about this book or to purchase your copy now please click here.



Amaze-Every-Customer-3D-High-Res-1024x1024Amaze Every Customer Every Time: 52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet by Shep Hyken. You must deliver an amazing customer experience. Why? It is the competitive edge of new-era business–in any market and any economy. Renowned customer experience expert Shep Hyken explains how consistently amazing customers through stellar service can elevate your company from good to great. To learn more about this book, or to order your copy now, please click here.




9781885167798_p0_v3_s260x420 Jeffrey Gitomer’s 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling: Proven Actions You Must Take to Make Easier, Faster, Bigger Sales….Now and Forever by Jeffrey Gitomer. There are universal laws of selling that    determine whether you succeed, or don’t succeed — whether you earn enough to enjoy the lifestyle you want or struggle to make ends meet. When you align the wind with your sails, you move effortlessly across the water. When your sails are out of alignment, you flounder and go nowhere. If you align your thinking and actions with these powerful laws of selling, you will be more effective and efficient. You will encounter less friction, require less energy, and get bigger results faster. To learn more about this book, or to order your copy now, please click here.


These “Recommended Readings” were originally featured in this quarter’s Presenter’s Post newsletter. To get more content and inspirational nuggets subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here.

Failing to Close the Sale: A Little Reminder about Closing at the End of Your Presentation


If there is something to gain and nothing to lose by asking, by all means – ask!  – W. Clement Stone

Despite tons of attention and ideas on various closing techniques that sales professionals can use to encourage prospects to buy, one of the biggest mistakes people make today is failing to close at the end of their presentations.

After giving a presentation that is not only informative but persuasive as well, why would we shoot ourselves in the foot by not closing? Perhaps it is because we mistake a “conclusion” for a “close”. A conclusion is a wrap-up, usually a summary- an end to what we have been discussing. A close employs the specific call to action. The close tells our listeners what we want them to do next with the information we have given them.  What is your goal? What do you want them to do as a result of hearing this message?

In my training workshops, we ask participants to deliver an entire sales presentation from start to finish. The overriding realization once we go through the playback on videotape is that many people do not close-they just wrap it up, and that’s it. They never ask their listener or prospect to “do” anything, like buy their product or service, or work specifically with them, or even set up the next appointment time. This is exactly what not to do, but it is an extremely common problem and accounts for the millions of dollars in lost sales every year.

The problem some people have with closing relates to the tendency to be too informative rather than persuasive. If you don’t build a strong enough case, then you are going to have problems getting your listeners to act.  Perhaps you tried to close after giving merely an informative presentation and were unsuccessful. That may be because you didn’t build a strong enough case in the first place.  Based on what you have learned so far, let’s assume your presentation is well constructed and persuasive.  But having a great presentation isn’t enough.  You are still going to have to ask your listeners to move forward.  Once you have built your case, you must ask them to take an action step.

We might ask ourselves, “Why don’t people ask for such an action step more often?”  One of the leading reasons is that they fear rejection.  The fear of rejection makes closing uncomfortable, so they just “skip” doing it.  It feels like you are setting yourself up to take a fall.  But all you really are asking for is a commitment from your listener.  There is something about human nature where people may very well do what they are asked, but if it is a little uncomfortable, like parting with their hard-earned money, they likely won’t do anything until they are asked.

The reluctance to close is seen throughout the business world with significant consequences. Sometimes even in interoffice meetings, when we are required to get together to discuss certain things that are happening, many of the meetings end up being informational…and there is work to be done!  What’s sad is that there frequently are no action steps as a result of the internal meeting.  That is why it takes so much longer to get things done.  A good recommendation would be that the close for an interoffice meeting is to ask:  What are the action steps we must take?  What do we want to happen as a result of this meeting?  Who’s going to do it, and by what goal date?

Whether you are in an interview and asking for a job, an interoffice presentation where you need to call for an action step as a result of the meeting, or a traditional sale with a potential prospect, the point is you have to close.  Give yourself permission to ask the listener to do something at the end of every presentation.  Do it gracefully and with your own personal style and flair…but do it!  Trust me, it’s an integral part of completing a persuasive presentation and you might realize just how easy it really is and how incredible the rewards can be!

To learn more about crafting your persuasive presentations, check out Terri’s latest book, Small Message, Big Impact. Click here for more info.

Use the Elevator Speech Strategy to Share Your Message More Effectively.

Here are 10 quick tips that can help you use the elevator speech strategy and share your message more effectively:Share your message

  1. Define your intention. What do you want to happen as a result of your three-minute elevator speech?
  2. Examine your scenario. Is this talk for a planned or a spontaneous situation? Preparing accordingly can help you earn the right to be heard.
  3. Draft your core outline. Think about your message, your goals, your creative ideas and your persuasive arguments. Structure must be paired with progression. Your listeners want to know that you’re heading somewhere as you build up to your conclusion and close.
  4. Build your case. Explain to listeners why they need you, your product or service; why they need to join your effort; and why now. Provide valid reasons and proof so your arguments pass the “So what?” test.
  5. Don’t forget to close. Present your prospect with a clear directive and a respectful call to action. Ask for that next appointment, follow-up call or meeting. Make it easy and painless for the listener to take the next step with you.
  6. Get creative. Do your homework on your audience or prospects, crafting an approach that speaks directly to their needs. Ramp up your creative nature and customize your talk to dazzle your prospects; give them a reason to want to meet with you again.
  7. Speak in your own voice. Try a conversational approach that allows you to be comfortable and true to yourself and your personality. Communicate your experience, vision and excitement directly—in a way that only you can.
  8. Write it out. Write out the long version and recite it. Then transfer your core outline and key points and phrases to an index card.
  9. Practice, practice, practice. Review your elevator speech again and again until it feels like a natural part of your everyday communication.
  10. Use it! Any elevator speech is only effective if you use it!


Terri Sjodin is the author of Small Message, Big Impact. For more information click here.

If you have 75 seconds, go check out the Small Message, Big Impact book trailer and see what the buzz is all about!

A Case for Self-Editing

self-editing-typos As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you might find yourself in a chance meeting with a CEO, at a sales presentation or in a competitive job interview. When you make the most of this important meeting your path could change forever. So what do you do when you’re prepared to deliver a one hour talk and the next thing you know they want you to do it in 15 minutes?

This challenge is more common than you may think. And in today’s competitive market, no business skill is more essential than being able to share your message, and get to the point –quickly.

The solution depends on your ability to “self-edit” and apply a tight analysis of your content– keeping the best parts of your message, and dropping the unnecessary…while still giving a rock solid talk. One of my favorite quotes addressing the challenge of “self-editing” comes from Winston Churchill…

If you want me to speak for 2 minutes, it will take me three weeks of preparation.
If you want me to speak for 30 minutes, it will take me a week to prepare.
But, if you want me to speak for an hour, I’m ready right now.

It’s always easier to give a longer talk – but that doesn’t mean the audience wants to hear it, or sit there that long. It’s our responsibility (our burden), to share our message in less time, and that requires preparation.

Even great movies are made better with effective editing…that’s why so much movie film footage is said to end up on the “cutting room floor.”

Begin by asking the tough questions… What do listeners complain about after hearing a presentation? And, how can I make my talk better in the time I have been given to present?

Consider the following Common Listener “Push back” Comments shared after a presentation; and then, when you are in the planning stage of crafting your message, build your talk with the intention to blow right past those common complaints.

Following each “push back” comment issue below, you will find a self-edit trigger question to assist you in preparing for your next presentation…

Common Complaints:
Push back #1: I’ve heard this all before.
Self-edit trigger question — How do you open your talk in a fresh and timely way that creates an awakening in the mind of the listener?
Push back #2: I don’t need this.
Self-edit trigger question — Ask yourself why do they need you, your company, and why now?
Push back #3: I don’t think this is going to fix my problem.
Self-edit trigger question – Did you really show and illustrate for the listener the solution for how you can fix their problem?
Push back #4: I don’t see myself doing that.
Self-edit trigger question – Did you help the listener “see their possible new future” and help them to visualize the change as worthwhile?
Push back #5: I’ll think about it.
Self-edit trigger question – Did you “close” at the end of your talk…meaning did you ask them to specifically do something…if so, what did you ask them to do? (Note: Many people conclude but do not close.)
Push back #6- I’m bored.
Self-edit trigger question – Is my talk interesting, fresh, entertaining, insightful and/or fun? Did I tell a good story and use clever analysis?
Push back #7: This is taking too long.
Self-edit trigger question: Did you let them know up front how long your talk would be, and what you were going to cover? Did you stay within the time limits they requested?
Push back #8: Where is this presentation going…he’s all over the board!
Self-edit trigger question: Begin with your goal…ask yourself—What do I really want to have happen as a result of my “talk or presentation” when I share it with others? Does it take the listener on a journey, with a clear beginning, middle and end…is there a sense of progression to your message, leading to a natural conclusion and action step?

After reviewing these listener “push back” comments, and applying the above questions to your next presentation scenario, you will be poised to begin an effective self-analysis that can lead you to quality self-editing – and a great talk!

For more tips on crafting great messages, talks and presentations pick up a copy of Terri’s new book, Small Message, Big Impact (Penguin/Portfolio) available in bookstores nationwide, or visit: www.smallmessagebigimpact.com/whatsnew

Terri Sjodin on The Today Show!

Terri Sjodin was featured on The Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda.

She shared ideas from Small Message, Big Impact in a segment with Reader’s Digest on the value of using effective grammar and “word power” when speaking & writing.


They also included an excerpt from Small Message, Big Impact on their website. Please visit: http://www.today.com/id/51319169/ns/today-books/

To watch her segment visit: http://www.today.com/video/today/51333047#51333047

For more information about Small Message, Big Impact or to order your copy today,click here.

A “Shout Out” to the Caterpillar

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” ~Maya Angelou

Part of my work as a speaker and trainer, is in delivering small group workshops (within a corporation for their sales professionals) on how to give more effective presentations.

You might find this surprising, but people are not always excited to take this class, and I get it. I believe they are very pleased with the end result, but it comes with varying degrees of reluctance and resistance.

Simply put, when you are coaching adults and you ask them to go through some sort of transformative drill that will teach them how to build and deliver more polished presentations, it comes with a certain amount of pushback from the participants. Sure, ideologically we all know that training, practice and developing our skills helps to make us better professionals. However, when we actually have to engage in the training activities none of us enjoy doing it. So when I start to hear the grumble (which is perfectly normal by the way) just before we execute the drill, I share an analogy about the plight of the caterpillar with my students…

Imagine for a moment that you’re the caterpillar. Everybody is encouraging you to be the butterfly, but maybe you’re comfortable, content, and not feeling the need to do anything “major.” (I have felt like that sometimes too.)

Why take the risk of throwing yourself off a branch, to hang by string upside down for 3-4 weeks. Then, go thru some kind of unknown and probably painful metamorphosis, for what? To potentially emerge as a butterfly? What if you don’t even want to be a butterfly?

Maybe others have even praised you for being the best caterpillar ever.

I imagine that at some point, the caterpillar had to seriously think about this…Maybe even thought, “Nope I’m not doing it! Butterflies aren’t that cool. Caterpillars should all be happy being as they are.”

Maybe some of his caterpillar friends agreed? (Not to mention you could be risking death…. How many caterpillars make it thru the journey?)

Or maybe he had friends who said, “Come on, let’s just do it…it will be an adventure.”

And somewhere, in all of the thinking, doubt, fear and questions, he realizes he does want to be a butterfly, he was just scared and felt a bit intimidated.

So, in that moment of choice, he takes the leap to “make things happen” and goes for it. This is the brave part. The commitment to complete the journey and come out the other side is the true part of this story that should be “praised” or noted publicly. But it’s not. All you ever really hear about is “how beautiful the butterfly is,” which is true.

So, what’s the point?

Every caterpillar has the potential to be a butterfly if it chooses. Each of us has the potential to be or do or have whatever we choose.

That said, just like the caterpillar, we eventually have to decide what we really want and push past our own fears to stay in the comfort of where we are, and choose to “go for it”, then take all the risk, endure the pain and make it happen.

So, if you or someone you know is about to take a leap and try something new, just remember, change can be difficult, but that’s okay. And as the saying goes, “A great beginning is sometimes at the point of what you thought would be the end of everything.” (Dodinsky)


“The caterpillar does all of the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.” -George Carlin

For more information about Terri Sjodin or Sjodin Communications, please visit: www.sjodincommunications.com

Have you read Small Message, Big Impact? If not, then order your copy today by visiting: http://www.sjodincommunications.com/pilot.asp?pg=whatsnew (also available as an audiobook)

Updated Terri Sjodin Preview Video (includes media sound bites & live keynote footage)

Check out our newly updated 12 minute preview video on YouTube! This version includes a clip from Terri’s live MSNBC interview. Hope you like it! (If you enjoy our new preview video, then please give it a “like.”) :)

Terri Sjodin Speaker Preview Video 2013

For more information about booking Terri to speak at your next conference or event, please visit: www.sjodincommunications.com or call us in the office at 949.723.3132