Inventor, Entrepreneur, & Activist
Riley Consulting, Inc.
Ronald J. Riley is president of Riley Consulting, Inc., a Grand Blanc, Michigan based corporation and is an inventor who specializes in industrial controls and product development but also has patents in process in diverse areas such as foot wear, telecommunications, exercise equipment, and numerous other consumer products. There are currently five patents granted related to automated electrified monorails and two patents related to the control of electric treadmills. Ronald J Riley is the founder and President of the Professional Inventors Alliance (PIA), President of the advisory board of the Alliance for American Innovation, a former advisory board member for Intellectual Property Creators, and has numerous other professional affiliations.
It would be fair to characterize me as an activist. I believe that people must vigorously and vocally defend their rights and freedoms, and further that we must do so even when it causes us personal hardship. It has been my observation that all human institutions suffer from a tendency to lose track of their purpose. And that this problem is more pronounced as the organization grows in size and/or ages. It seems that most organizations end up serving the needs of entrenched management at the expense of their mission. This happens with government, corporations, churches, public schools, and many so called public service organizations.
Even as a young man I favored equal opportunity for women. That tendency was reinforced by the fact that my wife and I were blessed with two daughters. Having just daughters doesn't bother me in the least, because I believe that sons and daughters should be taught the same skills. But having daughters has added a new urgency to my conviction that women should enjoy the same opportunities and compensation as men. For that reason I give the issue of empowering female inventors extra attention. And I have made a serious effort to network national organizations who want to help women with the independent inventor community. In most cases the positive results of that effort have been gratifying, the only exception being Girl Scouts, who seemed to have succumbed to problems common in old and large organizations.
I was born 1950 and I am 54 (2004). I have been married for twenty-four years, with two daughters. I have been self employed since 1990 marketing myself as a consultant (to generate cash flow until royalties started to flow) and marketing both products and a number of patents I have related to A.E.M. (automated electrified monorail) systems.
I am the result of a modest middle income upbringing. I have a sister 15 months younger and a half brother twelve years younger. My biological father left when I was about three. He felt he deserved another chance and jumped at the opportunity to get out of child support when my mother's second husband offered to adopt my sister and I. My adoptive father, now retired, was a high school teacher. He is the only father I have any memory of and any other references to "father" refer to him. I remember him spending hours teaching me to read, and being quite tolerant and supportive, especially through the terrible teens when he ferried me to and from Kettering-GMI without fail.
I was really into mechanical and electrical things and did receive a chemistry set one Christmas, but never an erector set or telescope, both things I wanted a great deal. My father did buy me a new tool on paydays, every other week during the school year. And gave me space in the basement to build a work bench.
He also forced me to work in the garden (some, but it seemed like a lot at the time), and a few years he took my sister and I into the city where we sold fresh vegetables door to door and got to keep the money. The seeds of becoming an entrepreneur.
At an early age, maybe fifth grade during the summer, I started wandering the neighborhood on trash collection day with my wagon. I collected radios, TV's, small appliances, etc. I carefully disassembled these, saving and categorizing every nut, bolt, resistor, vacuum tube, etc. I also had a tendency to dissemble every new toy, and then reassemble them after I figured out how they worked, the toys only slightly worse off for the experience.
I had few friends in my peer group during all my school years. I never seemed to have the same interests or moral standards. When presented with a choice between knuckling under to the group ringleader to be accepted, or being an outsider, I always chose the latter. I discovered early on that the best friends were those who were different for one reason or another, and finished filling the void as a teenager by making adult friends.
The first friend I have any memory of was a little girl whose family immigrated from Germany during summer break (between 1st and 2nd grade) from school. She spoke fair English and we played together that summer. When school started the other kids teased me about the friendship, but our friendship endured until she moved away in seventh grade.
During my teenage years (16-17) my father, grandfather, and I built a new house, which my father lives in to this day. I drew the plans for the house and worked with him on it's construction during summer break between my junior and senior year of high school. This was a valuable experience which helped give me the confidence to launch businesses later in life, and to tackle designing and building my own house and laboratory in my late thirties.
I have no memories of my biological father. My mother married again before I started Kindergarten. I was adopted and did not have any contact with my biological father until I was eighteen or nineteen. And then contact was limited to a few telephone conversations. I mention this because I attributed my difficulties in school from K-5th grade to trauma caused by the divorce. I also suspect that many other children's academic problems are in part a result of broken homes.
But gradually over the years, as I observed my younger daughter struggling with a number of learning problems, I have come to the conclusion that I also suffered from a less severe form of the same types of problems. At the same time I noticed that a very significant percentage of the inventor community also suffer from a variety of learning problems. As a result of this I now think that learning to cope with such problems, learning to adapt other abilities to compensate for those areas where we have not been graced with the necessary abilities, likely plays a big role to what makes inventors find unexpected solutions to problems.
One of my earliest memories is when I was about five years old and I received an electric jeep. I also remember spending many hours at the dining room table with my father learning to read. I had a great deal of trouble with school, and I have no doubt that my father's efforts to teach me to read set the stage for sixth and seventh grades, where I discovered a love of math and science and science fiction.
In sixth grade a science teacher (Mr. Potter) sparked my interest by investing a little extra time to encourage me. After that I did very well in science and math classes but had little to no use for English lit and writing.
However, I discovered science fiction in seventh grade. I became an avid reader of science fiction (and science fact), which played a significant roll in the formation of my world view, ethical standards, and creating the mind set that makes me a prolific inventor across multiple disciplines. I firmly believe science fiction is a great educational tool which allows concepts to be taught in a setting where the reader's or contemporary prejudices (both social and technical) are not immediately triggered, allowing them to learn to look at problems from different perspectives.
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