Welcome to HEY WHAT’S GOING ON OVER HERE?! our new column where we look at… what’s going on over here. We’ll aim to deliver a look at this expansive city and its inhabitants through small glimpses — slices of life playing out on the sidewalk, in our subway system, all over the five boroughs. Only-in-New York scenes that you don’t understand. So, if you see something curious, worth celebrating, or that demands some attention, send us a photo and some thoughts to [email protected].
Last week, freepicker received a hot tip about a "hyper-masculine gathering" outside 160 Pearl Street, convened most mornings around 10 a.m. The tipster reported that this "Man Clump" seemed to hinge on alternating speakers who shouted lofty promises like, "ANYONE can be the next SUPERSTAR," and, "We can be the best." The group vibe, he continued, was "very encouraging, very masculine," very ego-fluffing, the kind of atmosphere you might find in a locker room before the big game. You know, just men working one another up so as to murder whatever obstacle stands between them and their goals. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose, etc. etc.
It's a familiar energy, but to what end? Who are these men, and what do they want? What does the Man Clump mean?
Unsettled, but also intrigued, by this regularly scheduled outpouring of machismo, we went to investigate for ourselves. A first attempt to make contact on Monday morning went nowhere — around 10 a.m., the street was clear — but on Tuesday, we hit the jackpot. Around 10:15 a.m., we arrived on Pearl Street to find maybe 20 men in a pavement huddle, circled around an apparent ringleader in a leopard-print robe. As we approached, this guy, Robe Guy, appeared to be playing the coach role, pumping his flock full of Big Frat Energy. The Man Clump had no distinct uniform in common (some men wore suits, some wore polo shirts, some wore jeans), but they crammed in close together. All the better to absorb sales wisdom, it turns out.
Man Clumping, we discovered, is a useful mechanism for boosting morale within your sales staff — provided, it stands to reason, that your sales staff is male and AMPED. The Man Clump's chief architects, Omar Soliman and Vince Garcia of Synergy Capital (an apparently very persistent telemarketing-based loan company, whose motto is: "We finance all businesses…"), told freepicker that this is just how they do pitch meetings: Out on the sidewalk, where "elite" deal-makers-in-training can inspire one another to new financial heights through mutual screaming and encouragement.
The method involves group chants (the preferred rallying cry, which freepicker witnessed, ends with the men of the Man Clump woofing in unison) and inspiring aphorisms. "We found these jobs on Craigslist, and we've seen that, if we could start on Craigslist in a random spot and get to the level we did — once we brought all these guys in, we put what we did into them, and now everybody’s becoming elite," Garcia explained. With respect to office culture, Soliman said, "We make it like a sport, almost."
"We compete," Garcia added. "We make them have fun with it." That means raucous outdoor pitch meetings, which the pair runs with help from junior managers. "We step over here to conversate, we’ll let some of the other guys take charge until we jump back in," Garcia said. "It’s good to have a few voices going."
So, for those of you who've seen this manly gaggle in action and wondered at its motives: The Man Clump is not a cult, but a group of local telemarketers hyping up one another's entrepreneurial spirit to kickstart the sales day. After a brief chat, we left the men to it. There was no telling how long their clumping would last: "Sometimes two hours, sometimes a half hour, depends on the vibes of the meeting," Garcia advised.