Hello! I’m Susan Silver and I’m a writer who also loves numbers. Strange, right? So often we’re told that we’re either good at math or English, but for some reason pursuing both seems a bit out of the ordinary. Let me tell you a bit about how I became to be the “writer with a mathematical muse.”
From Word Pictures to Word Problems
Growing up, I was a misfit, plain and simple. I never quite fit in with other kids my age and I was well aware of our differences. My favorite moments of the day was delving into the world of books to escape from my problems; I even had long, drawn out arguments with the authors and I wrote my opinions in the margins of my books! Unfortunately, while my verbal skills were excelling, my math skills were nothing to brag about. As a quirky, misunderstood fourth grader failing arithmetic, I found myself at a fork in the road: I could accept that math was too hard for me to ever understand or I could reach deep down inside myself and conquer this giant.
With creative problem solving, persistence, and will power, I decided that I would not let math beat me. Somehow I got this great idea that I would apply the skills it took to unscramble my mother’s cryptogram puzzles and direct what I loved about English into what I could not comprehend in math. I used a substitution code exchanging letters with numbers. When my numbers were letters, math started making sense to me.… and while on a much larger platform, I still use my creative skills to solve problems today. I love to think outside the box and when a problem has me stumped, I’ve learned to hone my tenacity and determination to find a way to fix it.
My Journey… So Far
I earned my B.A in Psychology from Humboldt State in 2006. Okay, for someone who loves English and math, you may be wondering why didn’t I major in something related to one of those subjects. I started out as a physics major and soon learned that just wasn’t for me. I started leaning towards the social sciences and found out that I loved learning about how the human mind works.
Now some people may not see the link between psychology and technology, but the two are inseparable. I’ve learned a lot about cognitive biases and the ways that conversations can go wrong when you work online because you can’t always catch what someone really means in text alone. I think it also helps me to be a better listener and I can make people feel like they are being listened to (which is an excellent skill for customer service).
I’ve written everyday of my life since I was in third grade. Mostly in journals. I ventured into blogging around 2010 when I found myself broke in Los Angeles and wanted to share my adventures using public transit and going to free events – something most people wouldn’t believe was possible in a city built for cars. From there I landed a gig writing a blog and I reached 50,000 views a month which inspired me to become an SEO copywriter.I realized that I could have a job where my main duty was to talk to customers about things I already cared about.
I finally got my break as a community manager in 2012 when I heard about the launch of a new TSR (Tactical Studies Rules) the latest incarnation of the company which first created Dungeons & Dragons. For someone who plays RPGs (role playing games for those who don’t know), I recognized this as a big deal right away. I tracked founder Jayson Elliot down and we set up a phone call interview. I convinced him that he needed me to handle communications and work with the community while the company was creating its first product. In that first year, I grew our online Facebook page from 1,000 to 4,000 on the strength of my content curation and community strategy skills. (I even got to work with Gary Gygax’s sons Luke and Ernie. Gary was the co-founder of the original TSR. A dream for an RPG geek like me!)
Next I moved up to work with The Social Element who had the contract to partner with one of the biggest cell phone companies globally. I went from working from a company with less than 10 employees to one that had a huge international crew that partnered with Fortune 500 companies. It was a new perspective that gave me a ton of insight on how these companies use social media to connect with customers. It’s a position that requires trust and a lot of common sense to make sure that we don’t embarrass our clients. It’s a huge responsibility that I don’t take lightly.
My favorite projects are ones that require free form engagement. It’s my specialty and what I enjoy most about my work. I like talking to people and it’s a bonus if I can make their day a little better through interacting with them.
I am not a math expert by any means. Yet, it is something deeply rooted in my psyche. My thoughts about it are always buzzing in the background. One of my goals is to make community management work more statistically rigorous. It is something for me which is personal, enjoyable, and transformative (which is also why I will be going back to school to get a B.S in Mathematics in the near future).