Celebrating the Holidays

We had our office staff, teachers and engineers Christmas, Hannukah, and all purpose seasonal holiday party this Sunday last, December 11, at Firenze Osteria; Lisa Long’s establishment on Lankershim Blvd. In what Lisa calls Toluca Lake.

One very large table in our own separate banquet room, was set up for us with all the frills one might need for the most warm and friendliest crowd to be found anywhere in Los Angeles on this special afternoon / evening event. Counting Cathy and da harv we had twenty-four there to eat and be merry. Only three of our Kalmenson & Kalmenson team was unable to attend.

Our team attendance included:

Cathy Kalmenson, Harvey Kalmenson, Donna Dubain, Michele Jastremski, Debbie Caruso, Lisa McCullough Roark, Leah Swetsky, Scott Holst, Steve Staley, Denise Krueger,

Lynnanne Zager, Kathy Grable, Samantha Robson, Melique Berger, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jill Remez, Doug Gochman, Jacob Cipes, Andrew Racho, Sara Cravens, Ashley Nguyen, Mitch Urban, Ben Lepley, Marie Bagnell.

Our evening’s menu:

Each year we have a theme for our celebration. This year it was “A Toast To Our Future Together”, in twenty-five words or less. Surprisingly each and every one in attendance were able to write an appropriate toast staying within the twenty-five-word guideline. All guests showed up on time, prepared, and ready to go. We asked that the clinking of glasses, and the sipping of wine not be done until the end of the final toast. This ended up being a suggestion not adhered to by each of our colleagues. Some managed to actually consume twenty-four sips.

As usual we began with Cathy Kalmenson as our opening presenter (act). She was introduced by Mitch Urban who took on the presence of the “Sergeant At Arms” at a joint session of congress, as he called everyone to attention and saying, “Mr. Chairman, it is my great pleasure, and distinct honor, to introduce the beautiful president of Kalmenson & Kalmenson Cathy Kalmenson.” Cathy with great pleasure accepted the applause graciously, and began her presentment by humorously recapping the past year; highlighting in a most descriptive fashion the joys of our business, and the pleasurable accomplishments of our Kalmenson & Kalmenson teammates.

And once again as is our usual custom I brought up the rear. My comments almost always are spurred on by how taken I am with our team. Our people have a great deal in common with the men and women who are members of our armed services; every one of them is a volunteer. Every one of them takes pride in their professional choice of occupation. Every one of them must be accepted by a leader and then accepted by the people they themselves are paid to lead professionally.

Maybe I should modify my statement about being a volunteer. A person who desires to enter our military; they are the ones who truthfully should be called volunteers. They fill out an application for employment with the service branch of their choice, fill out the forms, take a series of physical, psychological, and aptitude tests, and if they come up to an acceptable standard, they are then officially inducted into that particular branch of the service.

Our requirements at Kalmenson & Kalmenson are a little different than the military, although some would say the Kalmenson’s are tougher to become a part of. Usually we are the ones who offer a prospective teacher or engineer the opportunity to become part of our team, only after we have known them for a considerable length of time. Most of the people, who join us, do so, after one or two things having taken place, either they have been in on numerous occasions as an actor for an audition directed by me, or they are current or past students, studying with us. In any case nothing is done quickly. Each of them has been personally participating in a testing program, long before they are made aware of it. When the right time becomes apparent, they will be asked if they would like to enter into a Kalmenson & Kalmenson training program. It should be pointed out, without variance there is never any salary or payments involved during the training period. These are all hand picked folks with far more natural desire to succeed than the average person out there. All are working actors, who bring with them the desired credentials for success. By accepting our conditions for entering into our demanding training regimen, they are in essence volunteering for a service unlike any other out there.

Many who read this will judge my next statement. Those who interpret, without the benefit of having their own personal years of experiences to forage through, will never have the capabilities, of understanding the true meaning of excellence.

I had before me a homogeneous group of individual intellects, banded by desire; culturally speaking a language driven by integrity and pride of accomplishment. These are the people who agreed to volunteer when they were asked to do so. In that room on our special Christmas and holiday night, Cathy and I were able to beam without the benefit of any artificial light. Our team provided us with the best toast imaginable. They represent our name as if it were their own.

“If they don’t learn, you aren’t teaching.”

John Wooden

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