ASHORT TIME later, Michael found his way to the billing response center that served the company’s larger customers. Robert had suggested they meet there to get a firsthand look at the operation.

Michael was surprised that it appeared to be a fairly standard-looking operation, with the same kind of computers his own company used. The people even looked the same, except perhaps a little more engaged but also relaxed—almost like they were having fun. But at this point he didn’t know what to expect, so he decided to just try to take it all in and learn. That was why he was there, after all.

A young man approached him. “Hi, I’m Robert Borders. You must be the executive Amelia called me about. ...

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