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With a new purpose

Cantor Fitzgerald, a financial services firm, occupied the 101st and 105th floors of the north tower at the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. On that day, the United States suffered the worst attack on its soil since Pearl Harbor.

No company lost more in the attacks than Cantor Fitzgerald. Not one employee in the tower survived the attack. The company lost 658 of its 960 employees (68.5%) at that location. They also lost almost all of the technological capabilities needed to run a brokerage firm.

Given the totality of the decimation, it seems unlikely that any company could survive. Yet Cantor Fitzgerald not only survived, it thrived. Why? First, CEO, Howard Lutnick, was fortunate to have survived the attack because he was taking his son to his first day of Kindergarten. Secondly, several business partners gave time, talent and treasure to get their computer systems up and running. Lutnick was committed to ensuring the survival of the company and to honoring those that were lost in the attack. Lutnick said “It changed our outlook about what was important about business.” Their ultimate survival and renewed growth pattern is a result of a business built on a new inspired purpose.

Today Cantor Fitzgerald has 4,500 employees, more than two times what they had before the attacks. This is a great story, one that illustrates how strong shared values, mission and purpose can contribute to business success. All successful businesses must possess a purpose beyond making money. Money is an energy tool. When there is a purpose for money, money will create itself.

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