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Meet Matt Cox

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Cox.

Hi Matt, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
When I was 18, I decided I wanted to be a pharmacist and I had a one-track mind to achieve that goal. I knew that I was a people-person and was fascinated with the medical world, so I thought retail pharmacy would be a perfect fit. After three years of undergrad and four years of pharmacy school, I graduated from Texas Tech University Health Science Center with my doctorate degree in Pharmacy (Pharm.D.).

I was the first to not only have a doctorate degree in my family but also the first to graduate college. I was 24, single, free from school for the first time in my life, and felt like I wanted to move out of Texas, where I had grown up. After receiving a job offer from CVS, I moved to Los Angeles three days after graduation. I felt like I had finally arrived after all the hard work and grueling years of studying. While pharmacy taught me professional skills on how to interact with people in every stage and place in life, my mind and soul felt overwhelmed and exhausted by the intense environment of a corporate chain pharmacy world and the negative experiences with people I had so looked forward to serving. I did have a chance to meet many incredible people, however, what I learned, for me, was that the tough experiences outweighed the positive ones. I felt trapped but knew I had chosen this career, and I put my head down to keep working for what I thought would be the rest of my life. In 2017, I married Brittany, the girl of my dreams. After being set up by her sister, we had a whirlwind of long distance dating. Brittany was living in New York at the time, so we spent all our time off together, exploring the city, and falling in love with each other. We got married in Los Angeles and settled into life in the South Bay. For years I had a calloused mind that work was work and I just had to push forward. I was feeling far from fulfilled from work and was, if anything, frustrated with it. I was quickly challenged with that thinking by my thoughtful, patient wife.

A few months into marriage she asked, “Forgetting loans, all the school you did, all the time you have put into it, what would you want to do if you had to do something other than pharmacy?” At 30 years old, when posed with this question, I realized that thought had not once entered my mind. To give a little more background, I grew up in a tiny town of 800 people called Savoy, Texas. I graduated high school Valedictorian, received my first year tuition from the state because of that, and moved 6 hours away for college. When I started my sophomore year of college, I had a 4.0 and had applied for every scholarship available and somehow didn’t have enough money to pay for college. I went straight to the financial aid office, asking what I could do to get more scholarships. Two ladies pulled up my profile and said, “Well, you have a 4.0 and have applied for everything you can, so just do the same next year.” My response was “At this point, I won’t be here next year. I need help now to stay, please share with me what I can do.” The door to the next office was cracked and the director of financial aid from Texas Tech overheard the conversation. He walked out the door, looked at my profile over the shoulder of one of the women I was speaking with, and asked me to step into his office. This man found me every scholarship I needed to not only pay for my school but housing as well. It was an answered prayer. I left undergrad after three years to enter pharmacy school and graduated with about $200,000 of debt hanging over me (from pharmacy school only). So when my wife asked me the question she did, I didn’t know.

From what I understood, I had chosen a profession and a life, and there was no going back, I was too far into it. When challenged by her, I realized, even if I never changed careers, I owed it to myself to at least think about what else I could do. I started thinking through friend’s professions, parent’s professions, parent’s friends’ professions and became interested in real estate. My in-laws had started a church in the South Bay about 15 years ago and have created an amazing community. I met one of their friends, Steve, who had been in residential real estate for 33 years. Steve was a people-person who worked and thrived in his community. I asked him if I could ride around with him on my days off from the pharmacy so that I could see a little more about what he does. I realized by shadowing Steve that he was also incredibly relational and we had a lot in common. I began to see that even though I was friendly and genuine in the pharmacy, I could never really use my biggest strength because the pharmacy is all about efficiency. After about six months of shadowing Steve, my wife and I prayed about what this switch in careers would mean for me and for us. I’ve never been a huge risk-taker, so the idea of leaving a steady, well-paying job that I had worked so hard for was not my personality. The more we talked, the more I shadowed, and the more I leaned into where God was leading me, we realized this was a risk we wanted to take. The pride of the school I had endured and paid for, as well as the safety net of a paycheck every two weeks, seemed less and less important in the grand scheme of things.

In November of 2018, I received my real estate license and in January of 2019, I continued working full time at the pharmacy while also working three days a week in real estate. About eight months later, we took the plunge and I started working full time in real estate. I instantly felt encouraged by the people around me and the instant business in this new field. For the first time in my adult life, I felt like I could be fully present and engaged with people. Even though it hasn’t always been easy, my wife and I are so thankful we took the risk. My first year, I had a far-fetched goal to have enough business to match my pharmacy salary. When I ended the year, I had doubled that goal. While encouraging, money and success are not my ultimate goals. Rather I hope to honor God in my profession living into my strengths, connecting with people, and giving them a sense of peace, knowing they can trust the service I am able to provide them. Every day isn’t easy, and I’ve had my share of tough clients and tough transactions already, but I’m confident in the direction I’m headed and look forward to continuing to meet new people and develop a sense of community through my profession in the South Bay.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It definitely has NOT been a smooth road. Just financially speaking, even with my undergrad being paid for with scholarships/grants, I still finished school $200,000 in debt from pharmacy school alone. I did not have one of those “born with a silver spoon” experiences and had to work for everything in my life. And for that, I’m so grateful, as it taught me responsibility, work ethic, and a trust in the Lord and His direction that I may not have acquired so early in life otherwise. In the pharmacy, I had so many amazing experiences, but also had my fair share of hardship. Not only did I receive verbal “or else” threats from drug-seeking addicts or entitled individuals who did not recognize my responsibility to protect patients, but also had someone threaten to “shank” me where I had to have them escorted out of the store. Another time our front store was robbed at gunpoint (AK-47) and I had patients huddled down in the pharmacy with me while I called 911. Every employee present that night went on medical leave, except me, as they were so traumatized by the entire experience. Even in real estate (a job I’m LOVING) I’ve already had really tough experiences with things that are totally out of my control. I share all of this not to get sympathy but to share the character and strength it has all played a part in building for me. I can’t put into words the peace I have felt after these struggles knowing that the Lord used each and everyone to grow me as a person.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
My current profession in real estate has opened so many doors I could have never imagined. The opportunities I have to play a role in one of the most stressful yet exciting moments in someone’s life has been so rewarding for me. Walking through this time with clients, one of my main goals is to always add value by giving more than I ever expect to receive. Whether that be knowledge of the real estate market, referrals for service providers, or fully taking on a client’s project and managing it for them so they feel less stressed, every client/home is different and unique making this job always exciting and interesting for me. I work on a team of six, and with that team approach, we are able to make sure every client feels sufficiently communicated to, represented and thought of regardless of the price range when purchasing/selling a home. We are known for the highest level of marketing and prestige in the South Bay when it comes to selling homes, and I am proud to be a part of something so off the charts.

How can people work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
Having a team approach at Watts&Associates, each team member has their own sort of part to play. We have a design lead who partners with our social media/marketing manager. We have two people focusing specifically on client services making sure nothing falls through the cracks and each buyer/seller is being communicated with on a daily basis. We also have a team lead who has worked in this business 36 years now and he is the “closer” and main “negotiator” in the whole process. My role as “Managing Partner” is to make sure all of this comes together, so I really love being a part of and interacting with every person on the team, fine-tuning things at times, and also building always towards our next goal or idea.

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Image Credits:

Tara Engle Kate Keating

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