Michael Otto – A Life between Bangladesh and Blankenese

How is one able to combine business with a sense of social commitment? What is a fulfilled life? How do we need to treat our world? Michael Otto who stems from Hamburg has often asked himself these questions during his lifetime. There is not one other of the great German entrepreneurs of his generation who places such importance on the balance of profit and sustainable development, as well as of entrepreneurial success and social commitment, as he does. For a long time he was derided for this. Nowadays he is regarded as a pioneer in his line of business. And he did just manage to transform his father’s long-standing catalogue venture into one of the leading online retailers in the world. Neckerman and Quelle on the other hand went under.
This year the modest entrepreneur turned 75. It is the first time that Otto has taken a film crew in order to visit the most important places in his life. We travel from Hamburg to Hong Kong, over China and Bangladesh to Tanzania and then back again to the banks of the Elbe. Never before has Otto justified himself so explicitly in front of a camera. Candidly he looks back on his colourful life. A life spent in a continuous balancing act between the pursuit of profit and sustainable development, between celebrity and privacy and between tradition and innovation. It is long period of time that has not gone by without setbacks. Up until now he struggles every day with a stance that he finds appropriate. It ranges from the perspective of the big picture to the concern about the small one. It happens to him in old age more than ever.