Realistic Travel Tips for The Rest of Us – Introduction

Siera Travel Blog Banner Art

For the last thirty years I have traveled for business through every state in the United States plus visits to British Columbia and Ontario. One insane year I visited 35 states and was away from home for 250 days and nights. I belong to every frequent flier program and carry cards for all of the major hotel chains.

The Imperfect Traveler

Siera Travel Blog Luggage ImageHave worn out at least a dozen pieces of luggage and have given away that many when they did not live up to the promise of online blurb, or when my travel tactics changed. I have learned a little bit about surviving on the road and traveling for work rather than vacations or retirement. I used to read all of the books and articles about traveling that I could find, but I realized they were not written for me.


Siera Travel Blog Spaghetti ImageThey were written for people who vacation and have what the airlines call “flexibility in their travel plans”. I have 150 people waiting for me in Omaha at 8 am. Tomorrow. They were written for people who never spill spaghetti sauce on their clothing, always stay in towns where food is available after 8pm from something other than a gas station or vending machine, where the nearest department store (meaning Wal-Mart) is not 100 miles away, and never find themselves in a community too small or remote to have a wi-fi signal.


Whose luggage was not left to soak on a runway in a monsoon.

They visit places only where the online maps and GPS readings are always accurate.

Those articles are for people never get food poisoning or mystery rashes in a town with no emergency clinic, whose clients never forget to make hotel reservations in New York City during a major convention, and who never have to stay in a town where every available room is booked by high school softball teams, (whose members have never been away from home before).

Siera Travel Blog Image Snow broken treesAnd definitely they are written for people who never have to contend with hurricanes, tornado warnings, bridge collapses, Presidential visits, squalls, lake effect blizzards, ice storms, airline personnel strikes, computer breakdowns, lightning storms, power outages, squalls, wind shears, or floods.



So, although this blog mostly is about adult education and issues impacting our clients’ workplaces and careers, from time to time I thought I might indulge myself in sharing tips for people who have to travel on a budget, show up places on time, and who are not superhuman at organization and self-discipline.

Love hearing from you. Have questions or comments?

By the way, sometimes, I will mention by name specific products or services. I will never accept commissions, payments, or solicit free samples. These are things I already buy or use with my own money.

Upcoming travel topics

My favorite things to pack
Travel etiquette
Working in small towns
Eating on the road
When you are lost:
Car Trouble: My favorite tips for renting cars

Introducing The Gossip Diet and an Invitation

Gossip blog banner image

Our current online directory of topics was created in 2012, based on our experience with clients going back to the late 70s. That is when we first began to produce programs for business start-ups, nonprofits, libraries, and corporate clients. Our intention is to provide clients with a tool for curriculum design and inspiration, and to make the process of choosing topics easier for committees and other virtual work groups.

These topics can be transformed into everything from conference keynotes to executive retreats with elected boards, from in-person staff day presentations to webinars to combinations of online and virtual education and training.

After we built this collection from existing topics, more topics have been created from current partnerships with training organizations and clients as well as inspiration from the current concerns of our customer base.

This image is in the public domain. Source: Our most addition, The Gossip Diet, falls under the category of Great Ideas from Customers. It happens that we had developed a program about gossip and rumor years ago for a medical clinic staff and had not had use for it again–until a public library manager suggested it as a topic recently. Not only did we add it to the directory this past week, but we also will be making it a public webcast, and the staff of the librarian who hatched the idea has been invited to attend for free.

So, you are invited to scan the directory and tell us what is missing. If we feel it is a topic we can do justice to and it fills a gap, we will add it, and invite you and your workplace to attend a public program and/or view the recorded archive for free.

Meanwhile, happy viewing!

Live and Recorded Webinar Series Information

Image for new blog postWe have launched a weekly series of live webinars this summer and have received a number of questions over the last few weeks. We figure that maybe other people have similar questions. Hope this short summary of FAQS helps. Always happy to answer questions, concerns, etc. We know that life happens, so we will do our best to make your experience the best we can, within the reality that all. technology. sucks. (smile)


We have a mixed of free and fee-based live and recorded webinars available on our site or from our training partners. Most are geared to libraries, but almost all of them apply to any workplace. You can browse the different titles here:

Live web casts:

1. The live webcasts do not limit the number of people who can watch from one seat/location. If you want your colleagues to be able to see a live webinar from more than one location, however, someone needs to buy a ticket for each location. Unless otherwise indicated, all live webinars are $20.00 per seat/location and include a downloadable slide handout in pdf format.

We use the GoToWebinar platform, which is VOIP, meaning, you can see and hear the program over your computer. You don’t need a microphone, but headsets or speakers can help improve the quality of your session.

We strongly suggest you log in at least 30 minutes beforehand, to ensure you are up and running with your audio and visual working, before we start. If you have an event planned with a group showing up, we would suggest an hour before, and let us know, of course. We usually are live and doing tech checks 30 minutes before.

Archived versions for streaming, anytime:

2. The recorded/archives version of the webinars can be viewed via Vimeo in a streaming format for $10.00. We usually have those edited and posted with a week of the live cast. As soon as you pay for the rental, the clock starts for a 72-hour window.

Theoretically, you can watch a webinar up to nine times in that period. We have learned that the system is on a hair trigger, so if you look at the screen funny, and the system registers a hit, that counts as a viewing (sigh). Or if you log in and out. Etc. So, you might experience a lockout sooner than you think you should. If you have problems, let us know.

Group events:

3. We decided a long time ago that we have better things to do with our time than be the webinar police. (smile) So, we charge the same amount regardless of how many people are in one physical location watching either the live or recorded versions. If you do plan to invite a crowd, we strongly suggest that you do a tech check beforehand in the exact location and with the identical equipment that will be used during the actual event, and let us know what you are planning and when. We don’t have the ability to monitor or help with tech issues during the live webinar, so waiting until the last minute is not a good idea.

But, if you plan to watch a recorded version with a group, we suggest you let us know when, so, if possible, we can make sure someone is available in our office to help with technical problems beforehand. We don’t want a group of people sitting in a room staring at a blank wall if we can help.

By the way, the rental for the recorded version is for the use of the individual who bought the seat and is not meant to be shared, although the renter is welcome to invite others to watch the recorded webinar with him or her. An exception is made if the financial department of the institution needs for Person A to buy it, say with a credit card, and hand the information over to Person B.

English is a slippery language, and if you have questions and concerns we do not address here, please let us know.

Gosling Nursery

My husband Leif Smith and I were strolling around Washington Park in Denver this past June. We came across several adult geese looking after what were obviously several different broods of different ages. The guardians made it clear we were not to get too close. Leif shot this brief video, and Toby Sullard and Bronwen Abbattista made it better. Please enjoy this brief pause in your busy day. Yes, they were this adorable.

Feel free to share:

Resources for the Study and Practice of Ethics




Ethics for librarians and other public sector agency professionals, including appointed and elected officials, are among the popular webinars and face-to-face programs we offer. We warn our clients that ethics teaches the importance of asking questions but does not supply easy answers.

These websites host information about codes of conduct and guidelines for librarians, government officials, and politicians, as well as community and political activists, degreed professionals, reporters and researchers, and interested employees and citizens.

Library Ethics: 

  • Everyday Ethics for Libraries video series by Pat Wagner
  • Resources on intellectual freedom from the American Library Association
  • American Association of Law Libraries Ethical Principles
  • Banned Book recommendations from the Highline Community College Library
  • Valdosta State University resources for library ethics
  • International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ Professional Code of Ethics for Librarians (of particular interest here is the information regarding indigenous peoples, including a link to the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials)
  • Medical Library Association Code of Ethics for Health Sciences Librarianship
  • School of Library & Information Science links to professional associations 
  • ALA’s Association of College and Research Libraries’ Code of Ethics for Special Collections Librarians
  • SLA Professional Ethics Guidelines

General Ethics:

Photo Credit:


Lean Government Webinar Series: Define Customer Value – Live On September 10

The staff members of government organizations sometimes assume that there isn’t much they can do to improve customer satisfaction in the public sector. (Maybe you work with someone like that.) To my delight, Steve Elliott can prove them wrong. His experience as a county government official and his expertise in the Lean government model can improve the way your organization serves your customers. And, as a bonus, a happy government customer is more likely to support your agency’s funding and initiatives.

Photo Credit: Catherine 2011. Licensed under CC BY 2.0. This is an adaptation of the original work. http://

Lean Government Series: Define Customer Value (PM 131)

Available as live, one-hour webinar Tuesday, September 10, 2013 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM (Mountain Time). Please adjust for your local time zone.

Eventbrite - Lean Government Webinar Series: Defining Customer Value

Registration ends Monday, September 9, 2013 at noon (Mountain Standard Time).

Click here for pricing.


Who it’s for: Managers, supervisors, and employees interested in change in government agencies as well as businesses and nonprofits.

What you’ll take away: How to better identify and respond to the needs and wants of your organization’s customers

About your presenter: Steve Elliott, president of Constant Improvement Consulting, Inc. based in Longmont, CO, has decades of experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors as a manager, business owner, trainer, and consultant. He was instrumental in the creation and adoption of Colorado House Bill 11-1212, which officially made Colorado a Lean Government.

Webinar description

Sometimes, public sector workplaces take their customers-citizens, taxpayers, property owners, business owners, employees, visitors, and other government agency employees-for granted. They might feel that they have a monopoly on the services they offer: licenses, tax filings and payments, fees, reports, permits, etc. Customer concerns are easily dismissed.

How well do you know your customers, both internal and external? How would you define their values and what they want you to be doing for them? What new expectations do they have that might drive how you operate your organization? And what do you need to do differently and even stop doing? If you ask them, as well as observe how they use your services, you might be surprised at what you learn.

About the Lean Government Webinar Series

This webinar and the webinar series is a joint project of Constant Improvement Consulting, Inc., and Siera: Learn. Teach. Inspire.™ Registration is now open for this webinar and the entire series. For more information, contact Pat Wagner at

The Lean Government movement is based on a practical set of principles, organized around eliminating waste, saving money, improving the quality of products and services, and making customers happy.

Although the focus is local government, the principles apply to any type or size workplace. Also, leaders, managers, supervisors, and frontline (and back room) staff can master them.

Click here to watch the free Introduction To Lean Government webinar recording. Learn how you can immediately use these ideas in your workplace.

Lean Government Webinar Series Schedule

All begin at noon, Mountain Time
Please adjust for your local time zone.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Free Introduction to Lean Government (PM 130)
Find out why the Lean movement is important and what it can do for your organization.

Tuesday, Sept 10, 2013

Define Customer Value (PM 131)
Do your services and products meet your customers’ needs? Ask. You might be surprised at what you learn.

Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013

Muda Eyes: Learn to See Waste (PM 132)
Examine the eight types of muda (waste) in detail, and uncover where they are hiding in your workplace.

Tuesday, Nov 5, 2013

Lean Leadership: The Long Game (PM 133)
Explore tactics that can help recruit leaders and champions to support the Lean model in your organization.

Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013

Cultivate Change Agents in Your Organization (PM 134)
Find the energetic evangelists on your staff who can inspire, direct, cajole, and unite your organization.

Tuesday, Jan 7, 2014

Embrace Resistance: Turn Cynics into Supporters (PM 135)
Not everyone will want to change, but if you take their concerns seriously, they can become part of the solution.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Lean Toolbox (PM 136)
Streamline the process of improvement, and help your team make the right decisions with the Lean arsenal of tools.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Value Stream Mapping: Weed Out the Waste (PM 137)
Examine your work inch by inch and expose waste. No blame. Just the facts.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Overnight Success in One Week: The Team Approach (PM 138)
Plan the week-long event that will give your team the time and tools to apply Lean principles to real problems.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Totally Lean Organization (PM 139)
Pick the right problems to solve in the right order. You’ll need strategy, planning, and coordinated action.

Photo Credit: Catherine 2011. Licensed under CC BY 2.0. This is an adaptation of the original work.