CEO Today - March 2022

you will become a victim of the scene. After all, many around him have become victims…How to deal with discipline, how to keep one’s composure, he demonstrated that par excellence. In that respect, he’s the greatest phenomenon I’ve ever met. Ingenious.” This discipline increasingly became a central feature of the Lagerfeld brand. You can’t imagine him being casual about anything, and his statement on a German television talk show that “if you wear sweatpants, you have lost control of your life” was probably quoted more often than any other of the many Lagerfeld bon mots. “People tell me: ‘You are German. You have lots of selfdiscipline.’ ... I am much worse. I am an auto-fascist, a dictator, who puts myself under pressure. When it comes to me, I don’t tolerate democracy. There is no discussion, I give orders. I don’t suffer much from that either. Orders are orders, period.” He didn’t mind being described as a narcissist. In fact, he hardly tried to hide his narcissistic tendencies. Lagerfeld, according to one of his close associates, often did not even look at his colleagues when he spoke to them. When he answered, he looked at himself in the mirror over the shoulders of the people he was talking to. Even during fittings, he was primarily interested only in himself. When Lagerfeld was asked whether he was thinking of perhaps setting up a charitable foundation, he replied that he had nothing to gain from that because: “All that I am begins and ends with me.” Lagerfeld’s approach to life can be summarised in two principles: boundless freedom and the irrepressible urge to constantly evolve. “Happiness,” he said, “is a question of order and discipline. I am the result of what I myself have painted and imagined, what I wanted and I decided to be.” THE DISRUPTORS About the author: Dr. Rainer Zitelmann is a historian and sociologist. He is also a world-renowned author (he has written 25 books), successful businessman and real estate investor. His latest book: How People Become Famous: Geniuses of self-marketing fromAlbert Einstein to KimKardashian – ( was published in November 2021. Lagerfeld was Lagerfeld. Like almost no one before or since he established himself as a brand and narcissism as his religion. “ “

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