As Matthew and I sit across from each other in the backroom of The Post in Maplewood — a destination we’ve mutually (and frugally) agreed upon due to their outstanding happy hour deals — it becomes clear that he’s not your normal “numbers guy.”
“My job is to take information requests from our clients and to pull data from all these different sites. Then I work with our content strategy team to determine what story the data is telling. I really love being able to pull the numbers and imagine that story in my head.”
Where most people would get overwhelmed by the endless grid pattern of Excel and the frightening depth of data sets, Matthew Stocker finds excitement. Not because he loves the sultry curves of the numeric symbol “8,” or because most of life’s problems can be solved by finding the right formula. But because of the story those data can tell.
So, out of respect for Paradowski’s newest Analytics Coordinator, it only seems fitting to let the numbers do the talking.
Matthew was born on November 10, 1996, to Steven and Wendy Stocker. For most of his life, he lived in Fenton, Missouri. Though the immediate Stocker family was small, his extended family was . . . Catholic.
His mother’s side was modest but mighty. Each member of the family was involved in the sheet metal union, including his grandfather, who worked most of his life at the Murphy Company, and an uncle who currently sits as the Director of Education for Local 36. His father, on the other hand, was one of five. Uncle Teddy, Uncle Greg, Uncle Bruce, Papa Stocker and Aunt Jenne — a woman who deserves to be hailed as a saint for putting up with the four brothers that came before her.
Matthew has one older brother, Ryan, who serves as a social worker in the St. Louis area. For some reason, their sense of style has always been oddly intertwined.
“My mom would always dress me like my older brother. Like, matching outfits across the board. In every family picture, it’s the same shirt, same pants, same everything. Even now, we can’t break the cycle. I recently got these glasses from Warby Parker. Two weeks later, I see my brother and he’s wearing the exact same pair. How? I don’t know. But we’ve always been connected like that.”
Matthew believes the matching began at an old house in Bellefontaine Neighbors. His mother had just returned from Sam’s Club with a three-pack of cereal. She put the boxes in the kitchen, and left the room. Within moments, the brothers had torn open a bag of Cap’n Crunch causing the cereal to spill all over the floor. Matthew’s mother returned to find her two boys, identical in motion, picking food off the ground like chickens. She snapped a picture, had a laugh, and insisted that her sons match for life.
Matthew followed his high-school girlfriend to college at Lindenwood University. They broke up almost immediately. So Matthew threw himself into Greek life and his studies. He tried criminology for a little bit, but he claims the teacher’s lack of storytelling ruined the subject for him.
“The professor I had was dry as can be. The guy walks in on the very first day and his arm is halfway reinforced. But he never tells us why. He says he used to be a cop and then says, "It happened on the job." And it's like, that makes even cooler — you must have so many stories. But he never shared a single one.”
Instead, Matthew landed in communication. A natural fit for someone seeking stories. Advertising, Public Relations and Corporate Communication became his official degree, with a minor in Digital Content Strategy. And Matthew excelled in this oddly specific world. He loved the program at Lindenwood, and his degree helped him land a job at Paradowski. But Matthew admits that it would be nice to use fewer than eight words to describe what he learned.
“Zero” represents the number of times that Matthew Stocker will choose to ride a Lime Scooter in the future. His loathing stems from both their aesthetic value (or lack thereof), as well as a traumatic experience in Los Angeles, which he recalls in detail.
“So we’re going full speed down this road. And I remember looking down to see how fast I’m actually going. When I look up, there’s this tire-sized pothole. And I just skid on the pavement. You know how some people skip rocks on the lake? Well, that was basically me, but with my body.”
As he sat on the curb on that California street, nursing his wounds with the napkin of an old peanut-butter sandwich found in his backpack, Matthew vowed to never ride a Lime Scooter ever again.
Matthew loves superhero movies. But not like other people think they love superhero movies. He appreciates how certain film directors (especially Christopher Nolan) have an ability to take human topics and incorporate them into an immersive fantasy world. He remembers how The Dark Knight bravely approached issues of “urban terrorism” and human fault. How the layers of the movie created depth and allowed the story to move beyond actors in spandex.
When The Dark Knight finally came out on DVD, Matthew was so eager to analyze the story further that he downloaded the film — not to a full-sized iPod, but to his iPod Nano. And during an assembly at St. Paul Catholic Grade School, he watched all 152 minutes of the movie on a screen the size of a postage stamp.
Matthew began working at the age of 15. His career started at the ice cream parlor in Six Flags, where he would later return as part of their finance team. His clothes habitually smelled like waffle cones, vanilla and chocolate sauce, but it was the only place that was hiring at the time.
Two years later, he took a job at the Great Escape Theatre. Even though he loved the commute — as any teenager with both a permit and a selfless mother willing to endure two round-trip journeys to Six Flags would — he had started to grow an interest in film (see above). The movie theater let him see shows for free. He later jumped next door to Sports Authority to take advantage of their 50% employee discount, before returning to Six Flags for the summers.
Matthew then worked for a short time with the Saint Louis Zoo and, toward the end of college, started an internship at The Climate Corporation — an opportunity that would lead to his current role.
Truth is Matthew Stocker doesn’t know the numbers that come next. Like any talented Analytics Coordinator, he believes that the events that happened in the past lay the groundwork for those to come in the future.
His first job at Six Flags led to a finance position at the same park. His degree program and accompanying minor in digital content strategy led to an internship with a digital agriculture company, which then resulted in a full-time position working analytics for a number of agriculture clients. And his knee-jerk disdain for ride-sharing scooters even led to an experiential hatred of the electric device (aka, death trap).