Christopher MengelFounder of TalentSum, Interim CMO, Consultant

Chris has built talent solutions firms, consulting firms, and marketing firms - and has held several senior leadership roles (in both private and public companies) with responsibility across staffing and recruitment, outsourcing, management consulting, marketing and advertising, digital content and delivery, branding, and design.

Chris has founded multiple businesses and personally led over 100 marketing and/or talent-related client engagements in more than 50 companies across more than a dozen industries.

Most recently, Chris is working on his 7th startup, TalentSum, a provider of modernization and digital transformation services set up to help companies adapt to a new era.

He has invested most of his energy, entrepreneurial drive and career into improving the known and inventing the new across talent acquisition, operations and marketing.

Most of Chris' 20+ year career has been spent working with executives and CEO's in emerging and mid-market firms to create context, improve outcomes and deliver value – specifically to help them build and grow companies, foster new opportunities and relationships, improve operations, get marketing to work, set vision and strategy, rethink entire businesses or foundations, attract, engage and hire more of the right people, deliver analysis and actionable insights, improve corporate and employer brands to stand out in the crowd, shape culture and drive a sense of ownership, maintain engagement over the long term, and implement software and technologies across the marketing and talent landscapes.

You can learn more about Chris at

Recent Answers

I would think 3 to 6 % with 2-4 year vest and one year cliff + salary for someone in startup as CMO.

No. GPA is a reflection of being able to:

(1) listen to directions and focus on what is important.
(2) prioritize, set a structure, and get work done.
(3) memorize information, recite, and comprehend what you learned.

GPA has nothing do with entrepreneurship and your ability to succeed in business. In fact, many of the best entrepreneurs have OCD, ADD, ADHD, anxiety, or behavioral/emotional issues rooted in their past. Some are college drop-outs. Many are without advanced degrees. Some started business in high-school and never took another course.

While GPA is not an important marker to become a successful entrepreneur, there are other things that are, such as:

- the ability to focus on what's important
- knowing yourself and why you procrastinate
- the perseverance to stay the course
- or the ability to know when to fold a failing hand
- the abilities, attributes, ambitions, and access to support you along the way
- the ability to bring others around you and to get others excited about something larger than you.
- energy and a high enough emotional quotient (EQ) to treat others well and with respect and empathy.
- the ability to delegate but also jump in.
- the ability to do hard work when required (which is much of the time)
- the ability to be fueled by self, in isolation in the beginning; no needing to be built up by others.
- willing to learn from others, get mentors, have a growth-mindset and a curious mind.
- the ability to respect risks but see fear for what it is (an emotion).
- and so on.

So while GPA a not marker for success as an entrepreneur, being able to uncover a way forward or out is. Being an entrepreneur is a blessing and a curse. Don't beat yourself up if your direction isn't crystal clear today. Lastly,...two pieces of advice:

(1) life is long and you will know when it's right to be an entrepreneur.
(2) you can do wonderful work inside someone else's company as someone who cares about "entrepreneurship". Meaning, you don't have to box yourself in and only see yourself as entrepreneur or not. Owner/Operators are always looking for people who bring an entrepreneurial spirit, can do mindset, strong work ethic to the business.

Hope that helps. - cm

You differentiate yourself from your peers by being who you were meant to be - and no one else. Here's a way to think about how to get to where you want to go...

First, decide you are worthwhile and then discover what makes you special and unique in the world. Take whatever time to uncover your true interests. Then, find a way to express your interests and/or share them with others out in the world - and look for ways to match your combination of abilities, values, talent and skills to support your interests.

It might help to think in terms of "interests", not "passions". Passions, even the deepest feelings about things, will come and go, and one day you'll find yourself asking whether you should continue on in a direction because you don't "feel" like it anymore.

When you lose your passion, there is nothing set and ready to replace the wandering feelings that inevitably creep into your head. Aloneness, confusion, and fear can take hold.

When you live with passions and not interests, there is no "why" to fall back on. No formed structure to build on or grab hold of in any way when times are rough.

Take the time to uncover your deep interests, and then layer on top your uniqueness + time + efforts, etc. Living and moving forward in this way allows you to (almost always) wake up from a crappy night of sleep - or failed startup, or broken relationship, etc. - and still have something to hold onto that is real. Aligning with interests always provides you with a pre-defined sense of direction to fall back on.

By aligning with and working from a real set of interests (also called your "why") people will see you (as differentiated). Your differentiated self will grow from what you learn about yourself and what you do and how you act with what you know.

If you are in business, apply that same thinking above to business. Start with the center ring and move outward. Ask yourself: What do you like and believe in? What can you do better than others? What does the world need?

Then once you have answers, look for ways to move forward and talk about what makes you unique and the problems you can solve and how you can solve them better than others.

Hope this was helpful. - cm

I wouldn't start with funding. If you haven't already started, I would begin by creating a basic function MVP product and introduce it to 35-50 or so potential buyers and get initial validation. They might give you the necessary feedback to improve and focus or pivot into a winner. By keeping them in the conversation you can draw them into funding the new business. That's how Quibb - and so many others - got started. If you already have your business up and running, I'd consider bringing in a respected industry co-founder (and ask that person to fund), or ask friends/family to help out with a reasonable rate loan.

The biggest challenge when trying to convert comes at the very beginning when you decide to create a solution to serve a need or solve a problem or pain. Get that part right and everything else is a whole lot easier.

The issue is "relevance" - actually being able to solve the real pain or problem and be seen as a viable option. If you have a solution that meets a real need, and if you are speaking to the correct "personas" (DM/buyer, evangelist, end user, etc.), and if you have connected and moved the dialog along through the funnel (in you MAS or campaign, or other), then there should be low friction and lead to transaction.

Being relevant, useful, and engaging in dialog all help to convert. It might need an extra push with limited offers, promos, add-on features.

I've led Marketing as VP/Marketing or CMO for multiple firms and have been tasked with gaining paid subscriber. Some of the best advice I've found comes from a great book called "Traction" by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares. The entire book is dedicated to answering your question in detail - and they break down each channel by chapter.

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