Saturday, September 10, 2011

Piers Morgan interviews Cantor-FitzGerald CEO Howard Lutnick, who explains how he rebuilt his company after the catastrophe on 9/11

Friday night, Piers Morgan interviewed Howard Lutnick, ceo of Cantor-FitzGerald, the securities trading firm that had occupied the upper floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

He described how he first found out, while he was on his way in that morning, from unusual rings on his cell phone (when he was taking his son to the first day of kindergarten), and about his experiences with the dust cloud outdoors, and with walking to an employee’s Greenwich Village apartment.

The company lost most of its 700 NYC employees that morning, leaving about 300 other employees left in London and other locations.  Lutnick described the generosity of the remaining staff that was willing to work essentially without compensation for a long time to keep the company operating, as well as the cooperation of the banks.  Today he has about 1600 employees.

He says he could have given up.  The consequences of some things are permanent and have to be lived with. We hear about that kind of despair coming from Japan, which simply cannot make everyone whole after the earthquake.  You have to make up your mind that your life is worth rebuilding.  But he really had not lost everything, like he first thought he had. He had the loyalty of his remaining people. But not everyone has that. 

I suppose the story of his company would make a good POV documentary film. 

He also said that the economy needs to provide much more incentive to invest in “people”.  “Washington is not the engine of the economy.”

Morgan also interviewed 9/11 survivor Lauren Manning, author of “Unmeasured Strength” (2011, Henry Holt). She was burned over 80% of her body when she encountered flames in the WTC lobby; a bystander put the flames out.  

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