Howard Lutnick was standing with a crowd when he first heard the rumble. Instinctively, the entire crowd scattered. The people who ran to the left died. The people who ran back died. Howard Lutnick, for no thoughtful reason, ran to his right. He lived as One World Trade Center (the north tower) crushed down into a heap on the street around him.
Mr. Lutnick was standing at the doorway of the north tower when the building collapsed. Inside the collapsing tower, 658 of Howard Lutnick’s employees, including his brother, died. Lutnick was then (and is now) the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald. Cantor Fitzgerald, a brokerage and banking firm, occupied floors 101-105 of Tower One. That’s just above where the plane struck on 9/11. Nobody in the offices that day survived.
Howard would have been there, too, save for an important family event. On 9/11, Mr. Lutnick had arrived to work much later than normal because he had taken time off to escort his son, Kyle, to his very first day of kindergarten.
Howard Lutnick lives today with an unrelenting survivor’s guilt. His guilt is especially deep because Cantor Fitzgerald, by his own design, adopted a policy of hiring people who were related. He wanted a close-knit company. For that reason, many families lost more than one loved one when the tower fell. Howard also had a sister working at the World Trade Center, but like him, she survived because she had a late starting time on 9/11.
Fortunately, the story of Howard Lutnick and the Story of Cantor Fitzgerald did not end in the rubble of the World Trade Center. Howard has since rebuilt the company. At the time of the attacks, Cantor Fitzgerald employed 960 employees. Today the firm employs twice that many.
More importantly, Howard Lutnick and Cantor Fitzgerald have become leaders in charitable giving. The Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund (a non-profit) has given almost $280 million to the families of loved ones lost in the Cantor Fitzgerald offices on 9/11 and victims of more recent tragedies. Each year, on or near September 11, the Cantor Fitzgerald offices and affiliates donate 100% of the day’s revenue to charity.
Sources: NY Post, Daily Mail, History Channel