10 things i learned form Karl

Whitney passing was sad, Bowey passing was sad…. and Michael passing was horrible… and now Karl Lagerfeld……! having studied fashion design, being german (his mom was actually from the tiny tiny town sigmaringen, where i went to college), and my love for quotes (he is the king of outrageous quotes!), his death hit me pretty hard.

i have read the world according to Karl among other books, watched the fabulous documentary “Karl confidential” and would try to see any interview he gave. since his death, i have been reflecting on him and summarized all the things i learned form him. so here we go:

1. don’t dwell on the past

“if you rest on your past work you are done. paradise is now” and “people who say that yesterday was better than today are ultimately devaluing their own existence.” are such great Karl-quotes! ever since that time i vagabonded my way through asia, i have had a hard time not reminiscing and comparing my now with the past. yes, after reading the power of now i do know that no good can come form letting my mind fall into the past, or let it jump into the future. i think we would all be happier if we lived more by Karl’s words.

2. don’t see your work as work

when Karl was asked when he will retire…. he answered “retirement is for people who work. i don’t see what i do as work”. i work really hard to make sure that i don’t do work i don’t enjoy. i love what i do, so much so, that it doesn’t feel like work. i love going to work on photo shoots and i love building concepts for my social media clients, i love sharing my skills, eco-friendly and ethical brands with my audience, and love every single conversation i have with my guest on my podcast, ladies on ludlow.

3. don’t take yourself so seriously

in my interview on the podcast willing to wander i was asked what advice would i give my younger self…. very typical therapist questions, (that my therapist actually didn’t ask me) so i thought about it really hard. i realized that i now take myself, my thoughts, my actions, and my decisions so freakin’ serious! and Karl was great at not taking himself, or his work so serious and could always find some humor in it.

“actually i am the result of a total improvisation and not reputable at all.”- Karl Lagerfeld

4. be curious

sometimes i ask myself if i am doing too much… stying, art directing, building my brand, managing multiple social media accounts, teaching on skillshare… and of course my podcast…. but Karl shows that it is possible. he doesn’t think about it and “just does things he likes”. he goes form designing for chanel and fendi, to creating a hotel in china, photography, and curating books and making his cat choupette a star.

5. buy books

i might not have 300 000 like Karl, but i have in recent years found that i love looking at art books, reading books, and being surrounded by books. and i learned form Karl to not organize them by theme. he says if everything is organized by themes, then you will find exactly what you are looking for, and not stumble upon the book you didn’t know you were looking for. genius!

6. be honest

Karl is unapologetically honest. even if he says things that might hurt people’s feelings, he takes things, good and bad…. just the way they are and doesn’t complain or wish them to be different. i think it’s the german in him (and me) that refuses to beat around the bush.

“i think tattoos are horrible. it’s like living in a pucci dress full-time.” – Karl Lagerfeld

7. be puristic

Karl says it comes form his drive for self-preservation. he never drank, smoked, or took drugs, which he says made him an outsider, but on the other hand made him “survive better than the others”. he also says that he does not have the talent of self-destruction…. a talent that a lot of us could do without.

8. know what you want, do it, and say it

when Karl was 17 he wanted to go to paris to become a fashion designer and he did. he was fearless about it and said that his survival instinct is like concrete.  people who work with him say that when you ask him a question, you get a clear answer. being called “opinionated” is not necessarily an bad thing… whether in my personal life, or in business i think it is important to know what you like, what you don’t… and communicate that clearly.

9. it’s not about the money

“money is something that gets thrown out the window and comes back in the door.” is another one of his famous quotes. ok ok, that might be easy to say for someone who was born very wealthy and only spoke to his father when he wanted a new car, or needed a new coat. but, we all know what money alone is not going to make you happy and when i do affiliate marketing, i make sure to not make it about the money, but about sharing products i know my audience will love. (if you want to know more about how to be an affiliate… check out my skillshare class “talk about stuff you love & get payed for it“!)

10. not everything can be perfect

i have a deep-rooted love for efficiency (definitely also form my german side) and it is sometimes hard to accept that i have to create a lot for the trash. Karl says that he is his trashcan’s best customer and that 90% of his designs are for the trash…. realizing that helps to keep on working without so much pressure to create perfect things all the time.


one more thing…. “one day it will be over, and i don’t care.” Karl Lagerfeld


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