Are you happy at the moment?
Yes, I’m happy. With two young kids, I’m also very tired, but they make me happy (most of the time), and I have a great, supportive partner (again, most of the time).
If you could go back and say anything to your 16 year old self now – what would it be?
Beyond the important, but now cliché, “It Gets Better” message, I would also tell myself to pay attention in Spanish class. I was such a know-it-all at age 16 that no matter what I could go back and tell myself, I know that 16-year-old Cooper probably wouldn’t have heard any of it.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?
I’ve learned that I can’t do it all, and when I try, I end up doing nothing particularly well. As a self-aware control freak, that’s been a difficult pill to swallow, but it’s finally taking hold. I’m slowly learning how to trust others and delegate to them.
I also learned that you don’t have to have relationships with people you’re related to, simply because you share DNA. If they only bring negative energy to your life, you don’t need to keep them around.
What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?
The biggest thing I want to achieve is to learn how to confidently delegate to others. That’s a HUGE issue that I’ve struggled with my whole life. Now that I have young kids, the negative side effects of my control issues have becoming magnified.
What’s your secret to happiness?
I’m a firm believer in choosing my emotions – I choose to see the positive in every situation; I choose to not let cynical people turn me into a cynic as well and I choose to be happy about the things that go right instead of upset about the things that don’t. Also, I have a complete inability to hold a grudge for longer than a couple of hours.
What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?
I talk to my sister nearly every day. Not really about anything in particular – mostly just to vent about our days, laugh about stupid stuff we saw or heard, compare notes about our children, etc. We moved around a lot as kids and custody changed twice. She’s the only person who has constantly been present in my life.
What’s your biggest regret?
I regret that I wasn’t out to my grandfather, who was the single most important influence in my life growing up. We were very close, but there was always a part of my life that remained hidden. He passed away in 1999, the same year I started dating my partner, Todd. I still hold a tremendous amount of love and gratitude to him for watching over me and teaching me good values.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?
My oldest is only three, so there’s not a lot that I’ve taught them so far. What I hope my kids learn best from me though is to have grace under pressure, to treat others kindly and to focus on the good in the world. And to laugh a lot.
What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?
I can be very long-winded and overly chatty. There’s no such thing as a short conversation with Cooper. I like to think that I’m funny and interesting, and hopefully everyone else does too!
Aside from fatherhood and marriage, what are you most proud of in your life?
I’m most proud that I’ve created a stable, comfortable life for myself and, compared to my childhood, I don’t have much to worry about these days. I was raised in a very unstable environment. I have no memories of my parents being married to each other (they’ve been married four times each), custody changed at least twice, and we moved a lot. Prior to high school, there were only two or three grades where I finished the year at the same school as I started. That’s really hard on a child and doesn’t typically create a successful path for the future.
When were you happiest?
I think I’m happiest right now. I’m working my butt off to raise two kids and run a couple of businesses, but overall I’m happy to be blessed with the opportunity to be doing it and to have the love and support of a great partner to make it all happen.
What ten words best describe you?
Funny, direct, compassionate, even-tempered, positive, intelligent, curious, authentic, flawed.
Cooper Smith Koch is the principal of Cooper Smith Agency, the successful public relations firm he founded in 2002. Through his work at Cooper Smith Agency and in the years prior to his agency’s start, Cooper has provided media and community relations services to a number of high-profile companies and organizations.
Cooper is a proud alumnus of Southern Methodist University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in public relations and corporate communications. Cooper is also an ardent fan and supporter of the visual and performing arts, oftentimes offering his PR agency’s resources in support of local artists and performance groups.