Of the nearly 3,000 people who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, the greatest single loss was suffered by one company that was located on the top five floors above where American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
None of the 658 employees who came to work that day at the financial trading firm of Cantor Fitzgerald survived.
By a twist of fate, the company’s CEO was scheduled to come in late that morning because he was taking his 5-year-old son to his first day in kindergarten.
Faced with such unbearable losses, including his brother, his best friend, and 200 of the employees he personally hired, he initially felt there was no choice but to shut the company down, a company that went from earning a million dollars a day to losing a million a day.
Instead, he rallied workers at other branches and decided to keep the company alive, to work harder than ever and to take care of the families who lost loved ones by offering them 25% of the company’s profits, and providing for health care for 10 years.
The families eventually shared $180 million.
Lutnick admits he has felt survivor’s guilt, but he doesn’t dwell on it.
In 20 years he has rebuilt his company, and has added subsidiaries with 12,000 employees worldwide.
He said he is most proud of the fact that the company now employs 60 of the children of his workers who died on 9/11.
The lesson all this has taught him, Lutnick said, is, “You gotta live, enjoy each and every day of your life.”