Of the many images of 9/11 seared in my mind is the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald Howard Lutnick being interviewed on TV. The firm had lost over 600 employees in the attack and he survived because he had taken his Kindergartner to his first day of school. The raw emotions and anguish on his face was obvious. But during that interview he also showed grit and determination that CF would recover.

Lutnick said “the best way to show someone you love them is to care for their loved ones” He made a promise that CF would survive while at the same time taking care of the families of employees that perished. CF vowed to distribute 25% of their profits to victim’s families and cover their health care costs for 10 years.

The firm was back online after a few days. The surviving employees had a herculean task before them – rebuilding the pieces in spite of the horror that befell their firm, NYC and the country. Rebuild they did with a singular sense of purpose. Today they are 1500 hundred strong but have never forgotten the fallen. Each 9/11 they contribute all profits made to good causes. They have a commemoration every year where families of victims are asked to speak – to celebrate their lives. New employees understand there is a bigger purpose than business alone – taking care of each other and ones that you love are also important.

I have thought about this company several times since that day when evil stuck. What was it like going to work – the friend you shared jokes with, those who helped you, your mentors, bosses – all gone in a single day. It must have been emotional and heartbreaking. But like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, the true creed of the surviving employees and management came through. They would not let evil destroy them or the memories of their friends and colleagues. Rather, use the moment to define yourself as a caring human being – one you can trust and count on. I admire the company, the management, the employees and most of all those that lost their lives.

 

Recovering from 9/11 – The Cantor Fitzgerald story

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