Archive by topic: Business and Politics

Select consultants based on their RESULTS.

July 31st, 2016

Fellman’s Candidate Selection Matrix™

February 17th, 2016

At a time when the election cycle is too long, and the media spends too much of its time providing poll results, rumors, tweets and commentary rather than facts, it is vitally important that voters take time to cut through the fog and evaluate objectively which candidate(s) are, in their view, best qualified to be president of the United States.

Because voters across the nation represent different backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, core values, etc., individuals may draw vastly different conclusions about qualifications, but an objective approach helps to ensure that each person’s conclusions are based on objective criteria.

Below is a link to a matrix I designed to help voters evaluate those candidates that are of interest to them.  Even if you think you have already made a decision, try completing the spreadsheet. The results may surprise you!

Fellman’s Candidate Selection Matrix  (Note: Depending on which program you use, you may have to select “enable editing.”)

After you complete the matrix, I would love to know

  1. Did you have enough information about the candidates to rate them?
  2. Were you surprised by your results?
  3. Can you tell who my personal choice is from the matrix?  (I tried really hard to be objective and asked friends from both parties to test it!)

© Renee C. Fellman, January 25, 2016, all rights reserved

Proud and grateful to live in Portland

January 23rd, 2015

This week, I am particularly proud and grateful to live in Portland. Why?

Wednesday night, I attended an event co-sponsored by the Portland Development Commission and leading technology companies in the area that have joined together to promote and enhance Portland’s tech environment.

One highlight of the evening was a video, produced by John Waller’s fabulously talented Uncage the Soul Video Productions, that featured people who moved to Portland from other cities to work in the tech industry here.  Aside from the fact that the work from Uncage the Soul is always superb, what set this one apart was that the techies featured in the video were not predominantly white-and-male!  You can see the video here and learn more about TechTown Portland here.

After the video, representatives of several of the key sponsor companies made brief remarks.  The best comments came from Sam Blackman, CEO of Elemental Technologies, who said, much more eloquently than I, that Portland is the best place in the world to live and that Portland truly welcomes and values diversity!

John Waller and Sam Blackman are two examples of exceptionally bright, talented, thoughtful people who value the most important things in life.  It is a privilege to know them and to live in Portland with them!

Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger: Good for public?

February 17th, 2014

In this article, Joel Maxcy, Associate Professor, Temple University, makes a strong case for the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger being bad for the public.

If your schedule permits, please take a few minutes to read it and tell me whether you agree.


Gun violence

March 7th, 2013

I have a theory about what is causing the increase in gun violence.  My theory is overly simplistic and certainly only a part of the explanation, but I am betting you will agree with me:  Life has become increasingly complicated and frustrating, and that undoubtedly means shorter fuses.

I’ve been thinking about writing this entry for some time, and finally wrote down the annoyances of just the last 26 hours:  (As you will soon conclude, I am taking some “personal time” to get some personal business done.)

  1. I had to contact AVG support because PC Tune-up had stopped opening.  I was “connected” to the PC Tune-up department.  After waiting on-hold for more than 20 minutes, I went to the user interface which invited me to enter my info, call in, and gave me a code to enter.  I called. No option to enter the code. Got another rep who was going to connect me to the PC Tune-up department.  I asked, “are you sure I will be able to get through without holding for another 25 minutes?”–The customer service rep checked with his supervisor.  The answer?  No one would be in PC Tune up tech support for 30 minutes.  I do not mean that the lines were busy.  There was no one in the department, period.
  2. I need to buy a new mattress, so decided to get a one-month membership with Consumer Reports.  After I filled out all the info and paid my $$, I tried searching for “mattress.”  (There were 3 places to click–I tried all 3)  Received the following error message:  “Not found: the requested URL…was not found on this server.”  (I have the screen shots!)
  3. I then went to the Sealy site–Do you have any idea how many mattresses there are?  (I didn’t count–but too many)  I gave up–perhaps that is the idea…I called the company to see what mattresses they had that had the key features I was seeking.  The person didn’t know anything more than what was on the site–she told me I would have to look through all the items on the website.
  4. I recently got an iPad mini, in part, so that I could read e-books and check them out from the library.  As it turns out, to do this, I have to log into my library then log into Library2Go, which requires me to enter my library card number and pin every time.  The good news?  I have now memorized my 14-digit library card number.
  5. I had purchased a high-end oven which turned out to be a lemon.  When the company came to exchange it today, they were unable to check the bios to be sure they were correct.  The good news:  At least the tech was smart enough to know that needed to be done and to request the information in advance from the company.  The bad news?  The info hadn’t made it to dropbox.  That means the tech, the reps at the vendor, and I will all have to follow up to be sure I have the right version.

Clearly, none of the above is a life-threatening or significantly life-altering experience, but I am betting that virtually everyone is experiencing these kinds of occurrences increasingly often.  My theory is that some of those who turn to gun violence have simply “had it.”  They have other issues in their lives AND these kinds of issues as well.

Life would be less stressful if these aggravations didn’t occur so frequently.  I have lots of solutions but lack the power to implement them.


Windows 8/Surface–my analysis and prediction

November 25th, 2012

The tech pundits have cited multiple reasons for slower-than-anticipated sales of Windows 8 and related phones and tablets:

  1. Availability and pricing
  2. Poor connectivity, hardware problems
  3. Mixed early reactions
  4. Clumsy interface
  5. Misc. + the “current economic crisis”

Although all of the above reasons may, in fact, be contributing to slower sales, my gut feel (If “gut feel” is good enough for other pundits, it’s good enough for me!) is that the biggest issue is that everyone knows that it’s a mistake to be the first to get a new Microsoft program, let alone, a new piece of Microsoft hardware.  There will be the inevitable “updates” and “fixes.”

Personally, I’m going to wait a few months and then update my PC to Windows 8 and switch to a Windows 8 phone and tablet.    Am betting I’ll have lots of company.

So much for punditry.  Calling Nate Silver!  Any input on this burning issue?



The candidates and the economy

September 30th, 2012

As the election approaches, it is clear that the two presidential candidates have very different approaches to “fixing” the economy, reducing the deficit.

If you have not done so already, I strongly urge you to take a few minutes to go to the 2010 New York Times Article,  Budget Puzzle:  You Fix the Budget.  In essence, it is an interactive spreadsheet that allows you to play with various scenarios.  You can select which cuts you, personally, would make and what changes in the tax code, if any, you would make.  You can run multiple scenarios and see the results immediately.  Categories include

  • Domestic programs and foreign aid
  • Military
  • Health care
  • Social Security
  • Existing taxes
  • New taxes and tax reform

I have mentioned this article before, but with the election approaching, NOW is the time to try it.  I can almost guarantee that you will find it FASCINATING!  It changed my views about what steps should be taken.  If you take it, I would love to hear your reaction.


Yahoo’s new CEO

July 17th, 2012

In a Wall Street Journal article, Is Yahoo’s New Female CEO Headed for the ‘Glass Cliff’?, Christopher Shea asks whether Marissa Mayer’s appointment  is a case of of a woman being hired for “mission impossible” so that a man won’t have to risk his reputation in such a role.

I have no idea whether that is the case, but I do know that this is a job I would not want and would not accept.  For that reason, I am hoping that Ms. Mayer sees possibilities for Yahoo that I do not.


Personal political information: Opt-in or Opt-out?

June 9th, 2012

Some people may have been thrilled to learn about, which, according to their website, “is a web service that allows you to discover how your friends on social networks are registered to vote, and campaign with them to elect candidates that share your values.

The heart of Votizen is the over 200MM–strong voter database which is social media ready. Voters can connect to their own records to see their voting registration and history, as well as use it to prove their power to those that hold and seek office. Voters can then scan their social networks and reveal the voters they can work with to campaign for candidates they believe in, whether it’s nationwide for a Presidential election, or in a local city council race.”

If you are like me and were dismayed to discover that your personal political information might be available to your “connections” on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, Votizen says that there is a way to protect your information.  Send an email to and ask them to send you an opt-out link.

Don’t misunderstand:  I appreciate Votizen’s stated intention to “create a new political currency based on voter-to-voter connections, reducing the influence of money and increasing the importance of relationships in civic engagement.”  At the same time, I prefer to keep my political affiliations private and think that revealing this kind of information should be “opt-in” rather than “opt-out.”

On a separate note, Votizen’s claims make me worry about our educational system because, unless I am missing something, it appears that the people at Votizen failed to pass or did not take the Common Sense Math course and did not learn the Double Check Your Work rule.

Fact check:  Votizen claims to have a database of more than 200 million registered voters which would mean that approximately 2/3 of all citizens are registered voters.  That felt wrong to me, so I did some checking and discovered that it really is wrong.  The current population of the United States is approximately 314 million, and the US Commerce Department reported only approximately 137 million registered voters in 2010.  (To see specifics, click on this link, the select Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2010, Detailed tables, Table 1.)

As a voter, a former elected public official and a former teacher, I believe that Votizen is wrong on its voter registration stats and wrong to make political affiliations public without permission.


Fact or fiction?

April 15th, 2011

The greatest danger to the future of our democracy is that too many people are unable to differentiate between what is fact and what is fiction and too few care.

Although I certainly agree that academic achievement needs to be improved in our country, no job in our educational system  is more important than ensuring that our citizens can  evaluate critically the information they receive.

Perhaps you have followed the Kyl/Colbert saga which prompted this post. Senator Jon Kyl declared in a speech in the US Senate that 90% of Planned Parenthood’s budget goes to abortions. He was more than slightly off the mark:  the percentage is only 3%, and his office said that  his comment was “not intended to be a factual statement.”   The comedian Stephen Colbert responded with a twitter campaign that mocked Kyl’s behavior and drew attention to the lack of fact-based discussion which has become all too common.

Regardless of how we may feel about the abortion issue, it is scary to see that our elected officials (and too many others) simply don’t care about basing their arguments on facts.  We will never all agree on all topics, but let’s base our disagreements on FACT rather than on FICTION.  If we do not, we risk domination by demagoguery.

Unemployment stats 2

January 19th, 2011

I’d really like to upload the unemployment stats I promised in excel, but the following message still appears on the Bureau of Labor Statistics site and prevents exporting….“The database from the Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey program is currently unavailable. The data will be available as soon as possible. (When this database is not available, it is usually because we are in the process of updating it.)”

In the meantime, here is a link to the page which includes both a graph and a chart that clearly show unemployment trends from January 2000 through December 2010. In addition, I have uploaded a screen shot of the chart which appears at the bottom of this post.

The very short version: In December 2010, unemployment was 9.4%; in December 2007, 5.0%. So…..the chart documents what you were already quite sure was the case….. We’re not “there” yet–We’re not even close.

Here is a screen shot of the chart Unemployment stats from dept of labor stats 011711

A retail story fit to print….

January 16th, 2011

Well… after I wrote last night about my frustration with news media reporting only part of a story, my local paper, The Oregonian, ran a wonderful story today by Laura Gunderson describing the success of a local retailer, Kitchen Kaboodle.

According to the story, someone (unnamed in the story) in the company had the idea of being open only on days that are traditionally profitable. Changing the days open plus lowering prices, according to the story, has allowed Kitchen Kaboodle to return to profitability.

The story about Kitchen Kaboodle is one of those unusual circumstances in which the entire story can be told–well, in which the company actually wants to share both the revenue and profit side of the story. Their problems are widely known locally, so it’s helpful for them to share all.

Besides, everyone likes a good turnaround story.

Retail sales: Compared with what?

January 16th, 2011

In an article yesterday on The Huffington Post, Abby Wendle reported that retail sales increased for the 6th straight month.

This is good news, but how good is it? How do the sales of the most recent 6 months compare with the same months in 2006, 7, 8?

I don’t have the answer to that question, but tomorrow in my blog I will ask the same question about unemployment statistics. For that question I do have the answer.

One of my pet reporting peeves is a story that omits critical information (facts) that would allow the reader (me) to draw some conclusions about the significance of the story.

On several occasions, my local paper, The Oregonian, has reported the remarkable increase in revenues for some local company but has failed to include what is happening to the bottom line. In several instances, companies that have touted their revenue increases in the press have failed not long after.

A great idea from the New York Times: deficit reduction

November 16th, 2010

The New York Times has posted an on-line, do-it-yourself national deficit-reduction calculator. All voters should be required to use it to develop debt reduction scenarios. It provides a list of major deficit reducing strategies, and readers can play with it to see what combination of alternatives delivers the desired result. It’s both enlightening and fun.

Click here to use it.

Turnarounds and political appointments

January 6th, 2009

I am watching with interest the controversy swirling around the proposed appointments of Leon Panetta and Sanjay Gupta. Although I do not have enough information to know whether either man is actually right for his proposed job, one thing I know with certainty is that when a dramatic turnaround is needed, that turnaround is almost always best achieved by bringing in a new, effective leader from outside the organization.

In my experience, people within the organization who are capable, competent, and eager for constructive change will welcome and support the efforts of the new leader; those who are not, will not. A strong leader, with the support of the entity’s board of directors can deal with both effectively.

Of course, implementing change within the federal bureaucracy is incredibly challenging. (For a humorous but insightful take on this topic, read Locked in the Cabinet, by Robert Reich.)