An Interview with Emily Lester Cahnmann – Founder and President, EM (Events Management)

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Background

EM (Event Management) is a New York City-based event planning and coordination company with 23 years of experience behind it.  Emily has been in the event management business officially since 2002, unofficially since 1990.  Emily has managed  a wide  variety private and corporate events … different sizes, different cultures and styles, modest to upscale, indoors or outside.  EM’s clients range from the small 2 person wedding couple who wanted to get away to a destination wedding in NYC to a 500 person Indian wedding in the heart of NYC. Regardless of budget, the goal is the same – to create a successful, relaxing, fun and memorable event.  For more information, http://www.EMnyc.com  

Interview

Please explain what you do for a living?

After 20 years making a living as a singer/actress/teacher I changed careers just before my son was born.  For the past 10 years I have had my own business as a wedding coordinator (ok, planner) but I also use the term wedding “stage manager” because I have a theatre background.  That term really does speak to the nature of what I end up doing.  I help my clients in any stage of their event plan – from the beginning, helping out along the way or just putting it all together for the day of.  I also do parties (milestone birthday parties, surprise parties, showers etc…).  I find myself organizing people and their visions, being a bit of a therapist, dealing with difficult people or unforeseen situations, dealing with amazing people, being with people on one of the single most important times of their lives and dealing with nerves and families.  My work can be creative, tedious, exhausting and joyous all at the same time.

What’s the greatest compliment you’ve received?

That is such a hard question; people have been so beautiful to me and have been so generous and kind over all these years.  Compliments or rather encouragements are so special to you for many different reasons.  Getting chosen by a client for their wedding day or getting chosen for a part in a show is always such a compliment because I feel trusted and honored.  I just don’t know…  How’s that for a dodge? I guess though one of the funniest and sweet comments that I got was about 5 hours after the wedding reception was over from the groom who said I was a “rock star and savior” for their wedding (500 guest Indian wedding).  That made me smile!!

I know you’re a parent. Is your parenting style at all like your mom’s?

It is somewhat in the fact that my mother wanted us to be independent or so I thought.  I’m a girl (obviously) and I’m raising a son so I think how I was as a child is different than how my son is – does that make sense?  I feel that I’ve set a more structured life for my son in terms of classes and schooling but then again, that could be a “NYC Thing”.  I structured myself as a child – I remember clearly slating activities for myself (and making my poor mother take me if I couldn’t walk) for every single day of the week.  I was very “aware” that I needed to be “well rounded” – maybe I got this from my Mom?  She is a very well rounded person as an English, Music and Home Ec Major in college – I thought that was awesome to have 3 majors!! I am raising my son a little differently because we want him to not only be raised as a Christian but also knowing fully and experiencing his Jewish heritage and culture, the basis of Christianity.

What were your favorite books as a child?

I was a little driven as a child and only wanted to read things that helped make me better so I tended to like “how to” books or autobiographies or biographies so that I was at least learning something “real”.  I also liked the Laura Ingalls Wilder series “Little House on the Prairie”, “Little House in the Big Wood” etc….

How do you integrate healthy living into your schedule and find the balance between work and home?

One may say I haven’t found the balance but I’m still here and haven’t gone completely insane. I do try to always cook most meals at home and eat naturally – just eat real food.  We don’t usually have bread in our house much and I’ve learned that to use real food is the best way to go.  I cook with olive oil and love garlic, ginger and cinnamon as well as other tasty spices. No matter how late (and many times it’s too late) we always eat dinner together as a family.  My husband and I feel that this is really important. I have been a speed walker for 25 years and really miss it when I don’t take that time for myself physically, mentally and spiritually.  I need to be a bit more selfish with that time for myself.   Working late night helps me catch up when I have family obligations that have taken my day working hours.

What are three things most people don’t know about you?

I have 6 – you can pick the best 3.  I could probably live just fine without ever having cheese or chocolate, don’t like to see movies twice (only the really good ones do I dare watch again), prefer quiet to music sometimes. Was in the top 10 of the 1980 Miss Georgia pageant (I was 18 – ok, just do the math), have a pointed ear, had 2 imaginary friends named Deeda and Gigi (who was obviously the more sophisticated of the two – BTW, they both looked like me…………)

What person in your life makes you laugh like no other?

Such a hard question, I have a gaggle of lady friends who make me laugh a lot: my old roommate Susan, my friend Beverly and this whole group I sang with called “Intermission” from Nashville, theatre friends and friends I worked with at Disney, other long term friends and other moms at my son’s school (those fundraising activities can really get you going)of course my husband, my son and my crazy friend in Alaska named Tiffany.  I laugh a lot with a lot of people – hard question………….  I find a lot of humor in the “every day” of life.

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