8 Lessons From Season 1 of Touch of Truth With Jackie Cooper

Guests included Jamie Oliver, Ken Hertz, Kate Robinson and Harris Reed

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The first season of Touch of Truth With Jackie Cooper is officially wrapped, so we’re sharing the top 8 truths revealed over the course of the show.

Cooper is the global chief brand officer at Edelman and has spent her storied career in communications and marketing living under a single philosophy: Meet everyone once.

The result is an extensive network of fascinating people, from business leaders to talent in music, film and culture. She brings them all center stage on Touch of Truth, revealing the human stories behind the seemingly glossy experiences.

Here are the top 8 truths we learned this season.

1. Going to extremes for Beyonce

You read that right. On Episode 1, genderfluid fashion designer Harris Reed tells the story behind his designs for Beyonce’s July 2022 Vogue cover.

In his efforts to be as sustainable as possible, and incorporate dead-stock fabric in his designs, his team recovered a moth-ridden, 150-year-old piece of upcycled tapestry from Italy. They spent hours using dry ice to get the moths off of it. “The process of being sustainable is not very glamorous,” Reed explained.

2. Ambition is great—until it isn’t

The guest on Episode 2, The Strength of Going Slow, was Cooper’s longtime friend and entrepreneur Moj Mahdara, whom she remembers as one of the first people to embody the word “hustle.”

Over the course of their conversation, Mahdara admits that ambition has its limits. “I had really drunk the Kool-Aid of hustle culture. I had drunk the Kool-Aid of six hours of sleep and six-day workweeks. …. Ambition is a great thing until it becomes divisive to your mental stability.”

3. Gen Z thinks in the collective we

When Cooper asked cultural fluency expert Jess Weiner about her vision for the future and what Gen Z has in store for us, Weiner pointed to the generation’s appreciation for the collective. “The future for me, for this generation, looks intersectional and collaborative,” she said.

“What we need to think about from a brand perspective is that it’s going to be collaborative, it’s not going to be up to just one brand to change the world—it’s going to be up to a consortium. … That’s the way that Gen Z thinks. They don’t think in the binary, either/or. They think in the collective we, ‘yes, and…?'”

4. As a leader, it’s OK to be too nice

Every episode, Cooper asks her guests the same set of three questions called the Truth Test. The first question is, “What’s the biggest gamble you’ve ever taken?” and Taj Reid, Edelman’s global chief experience officer, had one of the best answers: “My biggest personal gamble is—and I sometimes still can’t believe it’s working out—is, ‘It’s OK to be too nice.’ I feel nervous even saying that. There’s an archetype for leadership in the world today that believes you have to be stoic maybe less emotional, and I am 100% emotion, 100% willing to be vulnerable.” 

5. Dropping out of school still comes with rules

On Episode 5, Cooper spoke with Kate Robinson, the daughter of Sir Ken Robinson, whose groundbreaking 2006 TED Talk about schools failing creativity remains the most watched of all time. A month after the TED Talk came out, Kate (then 16) informed her parents that she would be dropping out of school. They supported her completely under the condition that she not break any of four basic rules:

  • Don’t spend all day in bed.
  • Don’t run off with the circus.
  • Don’t sell your body for money.
  • Don’t have a baby.

6. The true story of how Will Smith came to be The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Most of Cooper’s guests are behind-the-scenes operators, names you’ve likely never heard. Ken Hertz is the ultimate embodiment of behind-the-scenes. He’s an entertainment lawyer who’s negotiated deals, music rights and option agreements for major A-List stars on projects from films to music videos. In the longest and most wide-ranging Touch of Truth episode yet, Hertz tells the story of how Will Smith came to be The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

It’s a delightful, 20-minute interlude that weaves together terrible TV show ideas, hardcore Hollywood executives, a tipsy Quincy Jones and the birth of Hertz’s first daughter. Start listening at 39:40.  

7. Fahad Saud’s anonymous music career

Speaking of behind-the-scenes, Fahad Saud is a quadruple threat, mastering everything from horseback riding and angel investing to entrepreneurship and music. During his Episode 7, he revealed that the entirety of his hit music career so far has been anonymous, but that he’ll release his next album under his real name.

8. Jamie Oliver was told he had special needs as a child

Famed chef and the second-most published person in Britain (after J.K. Rowling), Jamie Oliver admits in the Touch of Truth season finale that when he was young, his teachers labeled him as special needs. “We were extracted into special needs and put into the attic of the school and pulled out of every class, but it didn’t bother me at all,” he said. “I knew already by 12 that no matter what happened, I knew that I could have a fruitful, happy, sustainable job running a pub, cooking food.”

Keep up with the latest from Touch of Truth on Cooper’s Instagram, or subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.