Nov 09, 2014 5:45 PM GMT
A pretty remarkable story... and the type I hope we can hear more of...
"Throw the faggot in the river!" shouted one boy. Several other kids chimed in, and two boys grabbed Bristol. Before they could finish the job, he struggled free. Traumatized by the episode, Bristol stopped going to school shortly thereafter. Following a particularly bad fight with his parents, he got on a Greyhound bus to the first big city he could think of: Lansing.
Bristol drifted around Lansing for a while, eventually falling in with a group of goth kids who let him crash on their couches. He started dating another guy who'd been kicked out of his parents' house and who worked at a call center. He got Bristol a job there. As it turned out, Bristol was a natural--he had a talent for sensing people's emotions, detecting hints of agitation, saying things that kept them relaxed.
When I ask Bristol where he thinks those talents came from, he points to frightening moments from his childhood. "If you knew that if you raised your voice a tiny little bit, or if you looked at me in a certain way, that I would haul off and smack you?" he says. "You would start to read me, figure out how to keep me in a good place. That's a skill I learned. To give everybody what they need."
[...] Intelicare continues to grow. Sales are on track to exceed $11 million in 2014, a 120 percent increase from last year. And Bristol is planning to open a new location, in San Jose, California. He has ambitious plans. He wants to build a call center without cubicles--replacing them with mobile tablets and wireless headsets and comfy chairs. He imagines that someday his reps will provide his clients with strategic advice, insights they'd glean from their daily calls. It's unclear what he'll achieve--he may never build a cubicle-free call center. But what he has done is given his employees some hope. That they are valuable. That they are respected. That they, like him, can achieve something.