Unlearning How to Be a Leader

“Unmarketing” expert Scott Stratten says there’s a huge difference between being a manager and being a leader.

September 14, 2022

By Sara Counihan

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Scott Stratten has built a brand around unlearning everything you thought you knew about marketing. His company is aptly called UnMarketing, and he is the unofficial “un” man, as his brand has extended into unselling, unbranding and unleadership, which he will be talking about during the NACS Show general session on Saturday, October 1.

“There is a way to do things in sales and in branding and marketing and leadership that doesn’t just have to be the snapping necks and cashing checks. I just really think, especially now today, going forward more than ever, there’s a place for people who believe in people,” Stratten said on this week’s NACS Convenience Matters podcast episode.

Stratten says there is a difference between being a manager and being a leader. He addressed the quiet-quitting movement, which means to stop going above and beyond your responsibilities at work, and brought up faux firing, which is employers doing the least possible for their people so they don’t fire them, but they want to leave.

“It can go both ways. This is the problem. We never have this back and forth. And I’m here to give the back and forth about that,” he said. “You want reference checks for my job? You want three of them? No problem. Can you give me three reference checks for you for people who have worked for you, including one who’s left in the past six months, I’d love to chat with them.”

Stratten believes the most powerful leadership skills are empathy and self-awareness. He said they were the most powerful before the pandemic hit, but now they’ve been pushed to the forefront.

“The public is harder to deal with now than ever. People are being abusive to people. People are just losing their minds at people,” he said. “We have to be able to work as a team. We have to be able to be leaders who stand up and take care of our people because they’re looking to us to do that.”

At the end of the day, it’s the front line of a business who is standing up for the brand, Stratten said.

“It’s your front line that makes the world go round for it. Talk to them.”

Hear more from the “un” man on this week’s NACS Convenience Matters podcast episode No. 353 “How To Stop Marketing and Start Engaging,” and don’t miss his talk on “Unleadership” from the NACS Show general session stage on Saturday, October 1, at 3:45 p.m.

Read NACS Magazine’s interview with Stratten in “Unleader of the Pack” in the September pre-NACS Show issue.

Sara Counihan is contributing editor of NACS Magazine and NACS Daily. She can be reached at scounihan@convenience.org.