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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
September 11th Survivors Look Back as 10th Anniversary Approaches
Aired September 9, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: On September 10th, 2011, he was a hard charging, high-living CEO. September 12, he was the only family of the families of 658 people, nobody who has at work at Cantor Fitzgerald when the first plan made it out alive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD LUTNICK, CANTOR FITZGERALD: I thought everyone I ever imagined working with ever had been killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: He barely escaped with his own life. Cantor Fitzgerald's Howard Lutnick tells us how he rebuilt his business and his life over the dust of Ground Zero.
And a woman whose life went up in flames on that terrible day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAUREN MANNING, 9/11 SURVIVOR: Out of the elevator shaft blew a wall of fire that enveloped me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: She had an 18 percent chance of living through it. Lauren Manning, her extraordinary survival story.
This is a special edition of PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
MORGAN: Good evening.
Tonight, New York City is a city on edge, as we're learning more about the terror alerts timed for the tenth anniversary of 9/11. American spy network has intercepted communications from a known al Qaeda operative in Pakistan discussing plans to attack Washington or New York with a car bomb. The same U.S. officials said the operative's information has been accurate in the past, that's why officials are taking this threat very seriously. It comes as New York remembers the first day ever.
New Yorker Howard Lutnick's life changed completely on 9/11. Not a single person who was a at work that morning at his firm Candor Fitzgerald made it out of the tower. In the 10 years since, Howard Lutnick completely rebuilt his business and he joins me now.
Howard, thank you very much for joining me. Obviously, a bittersweet day in many ways to you hearing of this latest threat now coming from an intelligence services about an al Qaeda plot possibly to car-bomb New York or Washington. When you heard about this, what kind of emotion did you go through?
LUTNICK: Well, you know, I -- I've always been surprised that these kinds of threats were not more often, you know? Remember, the bombing in the subway in London and Madrid. And so, you know New York and Washington are targets.
So, you know, it doesn't surprise me and, you know, what makes me feel more comfortable is I lookout side of my window and right outside of this studio, the New York City police are stopping every single truck or van on the street and checking them.
So, it makes you feel a whole lot better to know the New York City Police Department is out there working their tails off for us.
MORGAN: I mean, it does. The security level is extraordinary there at the moment.
Does it feel though, to you that this battle with al Qaeda, which obviously caused these devastating events 10 years ago, that it's just ongoing. Do you ever see a time when it will end in your lifetime?
LUTNICK: Well, you know, I can hope it will end. I mean, the ideals of western society, of freedom, of democracy, our lives that we live are going to make people who believe differently jealous. And those attack -- and they're going to attack our philosophy.
MORGAN: Let me take you back if I may to September 10th, 2001. You were running a large company. You were known as a tough, some would say ruthless businessman. What kind of man do you think you were? Looking back on it then, what kind of character that you were. And how do you think you've changed sin what happened in the next day?
LUTNICK: Well, Cantor Fitzgerald September 10th, 2001 was a winning organization. We thought we had all of the tools necessary for us to be successful. We didn't really look for partners. We didn't really need help from anybody.
We were in a nice spot. And we were going forward. And, you know, we were a partnership. We had had certain ideals, for instance, after the 1993 attack. We had made the decision that we're the only ones to work with people that we like.
So, we have somebody called encouraged nepotism. We wanted to hire your friends, your relatives, that was fine. As long as they could do the job well, we wanted them to be there. We were an independent place but a tightly-knit place.
And then, you know, September 11th made us really, really focus on the human aspect of things. You know, I didn't want to go to work. God knows I didn't want to work for money. The reason we went back to work and the reason Cantor Fitzgerald survived is because all of our employees decided that we were going to rebuild this company one reason and one reason only -- and that was to take care of our friends and families who we lost. We needed to be there for him. And that's what we set out to do.
MORGAN: I mean, total freak of chance, you happen to be not at work that day. You normally would have been. It's a fabled story that your son, Kyle, was on his way to the first day of kindergarten, and that's why you weren't there.
What was the precise moment that you heard there was something going down at the tower?
LUTNICK: Well, I took a picture with my son, you know, sort of the classic wet behind the ears, the backpack picture about 8:45, I have the picture. It has the time on it, 8:45 or 8:46. And then we went upstairs to his classroom.
And my cell phone kept ringing. And every time I picked it up, there was no one there. And I keep thinking to myself, why are they bothering me at work. I mean, I'm just dropping my son of at the first day of school. I was just surprised they wouldn't leave me alone.
And then the administrator came down, so it was probably, you know, like five or six minutes later. So maybe just before 9:00 and said a plane hit the building, Mr. Lutnick. And so, I ran down the stairs and jumped in my car. Obviously, I imagine it was like a small Cessna, or a piper, some crazy person or just a horrible pilot had missed the building and hadn't seen the picture of this giant airliner driving into the building.
So I didn't realize that until I got down Fifth Avenue, because I went Fifth Avenue so I could see the building right away. And, you know, we saw flames flowing out of the top of the building with all of my floors, we were from the 101st to the 105th floors. And, you know, it was so horrible-looking. I knew I had to get there because I was just praying that my guys had been able to get out because they didn't look -- God, did it look dreadful.
MORGAN: I mean, your brother was there, your closest friends were there -- 658 employees were there. This must have been the absolute, ultimate nightmare for you, wasn't it?
LUTNICK: Yes, it's impossible for it to have happened. I mean, they couldn't all be in a place where they would all be at risk. You know, two or three people can be in a car. You know, a few could be in a plane. I mean, it's not possible to lose 658 people. It's not possible to lose all of my friends, all of my co-workers.
I mean, people don't really pay enough attention to how much love and respect they have for the people they work with. I mean, the people to your left and to your right, you spend as much time with them, if not more time with them than you do your family. And so, they matter to you so, so much. And then just the thought of them all being killed at the same time, it's impossible.
So, you know, I would often say that this is the worst "Wizard of Oz" movie. And I'm going to wake up and say, wow, that was one heck of a dream. It can't have been real.
MORGAN: What was the moment that you had? As you looked up at the towers, what was the moment for you that you certainly feared that there was going to be no way out for your friends and employees?
LUTNICK: Well, you know, so I was in my car. And I drove right down to the building. And, you know, everybody was sort of pouring out and away -- and running away from the towers. And here I am driving towards them. So, I get to the doorway of One World Trade Center, which is now called the North Tower. By the way, I worked there for 20 years, and no one ever called it the North Tower in those 20 years.
And so, I was working in the One World Trade Center. That's the one with the antenna at the top. And I'm standing at the doorway, I'm grabbing people as they come out. Asking what floor they're on. And I asked everybody around to grab anyone they saw and ask them what floor because I knew that this was only one doorway. And if they -- you know, if we found one person from one of my floors and they were streaming out of the doorways.
And so, that's why I was doing -- I got up, you know, at the 68th floor, finally got up to someone said the 92nd floor. And then we heard this roar.
I thought another plane was coming in to hit the buildings. And I've still never seen a picture of this. So I had no idea what was going on. But it was, was number two World Trade Center, the other tower collapsing. So, I'm standing under the next building, I start running.
For no reason, I run to my right. I run to my left, of course, I get killed. I run into the falling building. I run to my right and I look over my shoulder and there's this black tornado of smoke, that rolling tornado chasing me. So, I'm a guy with a suit and a tie with shoes on running my tail off from this tornado.
And usually, when you see that movie, it doesn't work out well for the guy in the suit running from the tornado. I dive under a car. The world goes absolutely black. And I mean, I couldn't see my hands, couldn't hear a sound.
At first I thought I was blind and I thought I was deaf. Then I thought for a while, maybe I'm dead. But I was holding my breath and, you know, don't breathe, don't breathe, don't breathe. And then I had to take a breathe, then I breathed this sort of thick -- I don't know what was in the air. It was thick, it was particles, it was thick.
And I was suffocated and I was outside in New York. And so right then and there, I knew that the people inside, they were gone. Because what air could they have? So from that moment on, it was my view that they were all gone. And so, five minutes later when the sort of the color of the sky, you know, the world changed. I could now see my hands. You know, I stood up and I realized not only wasn't I dead, but I could walk. And I just started walking. From that moment on, I thought all my friends were gone.
MORGAN: I mean, this is just an extraordinary moment for you. You built this company. You've hired all these people. They've become close friends. Your own brother is up there.
You've had this miraculous escape. There's no other way to describe this. What is this possibly going through your mind, Howard, as you walk away from this devastation? What are you thinking in that moment?
LUTNICK: I'm thinking that -- that I'm done. That, you know, we have -- I had no company, that everybody is dead and everybody is gone. I -- you know, that I'll take my family, I'll move to, you know, Montana and I'll just, you know, change my life.
I'm finished. There is no -- there is no "there" there. There's nothing left. I mean, I -- I didn't -- I don't think I knew I had a London office. I thought everyone I ever imagined working with, ever, had been killed. And so, I was just sort of a zombie walking uptown.
I walked uptown until I realized the people were clean -- you have to remember, I was just covered in ash. I was one of those people with just the wild ash-covered body. And I walked up, I saw a line -- cell phones didn't work. There were a line of people waiting for the pay phone.
And there was a woman talking on the pay phone. I walked over to her and I took the phone from her and I hung up the phone and she looked at me and she looked as if I was a ghost.
And then I called my wife to tell her I was alive. And the sound that she made was, you know, one that could never forget. She knew I was in the building when she saw that tower collapse. She probably assumed I was gone. She hasn't heard from me for an hour.
So I just thought I was finished, simply.
MORGAN: And your wife suddenly realizes that you're still alive. I think -- didn't she take a call before the tower came down from your brother in the tower, is that right?
LUTNICK: My sister, she was with me at school. So her phone wasn't working. But my sister had heard from my brother. And, you know, Gary called my sister instead and said, you know, she picked up the phone and heard his voice, oh, my God, Gary, thank God, Gary, you're not there. He said, I am there. And I am here.
And he told her that he loved her and he told her he -- that he was going to -- he was probably going to die. He told her he loved her and asked her to please tell me and my children how much he loved us and he was saying goodbye. And, you know, that's the saddest -- it's just so sad because what he did was he got up in the morning and he went to work -- living the American Dream, working in the most beautiful offices high above New York with the most spectacular views in the world. And someone attacked America and chose our building.
MORGAN: I want to take a break, Howard. And come back and talk to you about the moment that you realized, I'm not done, I'm going to rebuild this company bigger and better than ever. And in the process of doing that, I'm going to help all the loved ones that these people that I loved and lost.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING: You'll never be the same.
LUTNICK: How can I be the same? I mean, every person who came to work for me in New York, everyone who was in the office. Every single one was there, isn't there anymore. You can find them, all of them. Every one, every one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I MEAN, Howard, I remember watching Larry King when you made that extraordinarily emotional experience. And just my heart went out to you. I didn't know you from Adam but I just thought I can imagine any worse scenarios for any human being. You've lost family members. You've lost 658 employees, friends, associates, everything, gone.
And as you say, as you walked away like a zombie covered in all of this stuff, you're thinking, that's it. That's pretty much my life, done.
What was the moment for you when you reassessed that, when you got a feeling, it's not done, I can turn this in to a positive?
LUTNICK: Well, my wife told me that one of my senior partners was alive and he lived in Greenwich Village, which I thought, all right, I could just walk there. That's why I think, I just walk to his house. Not realizing it was a 45-minute walk. So, I was walking up and so, I got to his apartment. I rang his bell, and he opened the door. And he was covered with blood, Steven. I grabbed him. I said, you OK, you OK? He says, yeah. I said where did the blood come from? He said I was in the elevator of the tower. I said, are you all right? He goes, yes.
Well, are you bleeding? He goes, no. I said, whose blood is it? He goes, I don't know. We were having this crazy out of body conversation and he said, you know, we should call London.
And the minute he said we should call London, I think it was news to me that I had 1,000 people who worked for me in London. I had thought that when everybody was gone, literally everyone who had ever worked for me had been killed. And so, we spoke to the guys in London. And they were in crisis mode. You know, they were hard at it trying to figure out who was alive, what to do.
And it was that moment when, you know, I said to them about, oh, we got to shut the firm. And, you know, Lea Midos (ph) and Sean Lynn (ph), my leadership in London, they're on the phone going, hell no, we're not shutting this firm. And they sort of snapped me back in to back into -- you know, back into humanity and thinking, OK, maybe we've got something that we can give it a go.
I mean, I wouldn't suggest that until that day on Larry King, which was on the 19th, that we were confident that we were going to make it. But we could talk about when that was. But speaking to my guys in London was the first moment I thought we could at least give it a go.
MORGAN: But one of the many contentious things that you have to look at was how you were going to afford a paycheck of the people who died and to their families. You had trouble locating the families because all the computer records were all gone. All of the data was gone. You had no record where you can easy access. So, an awful situation.
But you took a very tough decision and you got heavily criticized at the time, not least of which by the families. You said, I can't pay the paycheck. We have no staff here in America and we have no ability to pay. We're losing I think $1 million a week.
LUTNICK: A million a day -- $1 million a day.
MORGAN: A million a day.
MORGAN: I mean, just a catastrophic crisis, never mind the loss of life, but businesswise it was devastating.
But you decided to do an extraordinary thing. You said, look, I can't pay the paychecks, but what I will do -- I will dedicate, along with the partners we have left here, 25 percent of all of the profits of the company for the next five years and we'll cover your health care for the next 10 years to all of the dependents of those who died.
And their immediate reaction, I'm sure you remember this, was 25 percent of zero is zero. It's no good to us.
Tell me about the decision, tell me about the reaction from those families which was, I would imagine, pretty distressing to you, pretty hurtful. And also tell me about how you feel now being able to repay -- not repay, to allocate $118 million to those families? Way, way more than they would ever have expected?
LUTNICK: Well, so we decided -- we had a call at 11:00 at night. We put out to the media, because I didn't know who was alive at Cantor Fitzgerald. That if you work for Cantor Fitzgerald, to call this number. And I gave our employees two choices. You can shut the firm and go to our friends' funeral. I mean, imagine, 20 funerals a day for every day for 35 straight days. You couldn't -- it's unfathomable, you can't even consider it.
Or we have to work harder than we worked ever in our lives. But God knows, I didn't want to work, I wanted to hold my family and I sure as heck didn't want to work for money. So, the only way to go to work was to take care of our friends' families. And this was the 11:00 at night. I said what do you guys want to do?
And while the reasons were different, the core decision by everybody on the phone was unanimously was: we've got to work. We've got to help our friends' family.
And so, in our data center and our back up date center, we lined up cots in the corner. You took a 8 1/2x11 piece of paper and taped it over your cot. You went to sleep for four hours. When four hours ran from the time on the piece of paper, someone tap you on the shoulder, you got up, they laid down on the cot and took the nap. You want to play with your kids, the kids came and met in the parking lot. You went outside for 45 minutes in the parking lot. And other than that, everybody, everybody worked 24 hours, every single minute to try to see what we could salvage about this company because we had made this decision we were going to take care of our friends' family.
We couldn't announce that we were going to get 25 percent of the profits and pay for their health care until the 19th because on the 19th was the first day we successfully paid for all of the things that we had bought, started paying for all of the things we bought before September 11 and started delivering out all of the things we had sold. Because when you're on Wall Street, you don't really want to own the stuff, you're just buying it and selling it.
And so, we had $75 billion worth of bought-and-sold on the 10th of September that we had not yet processed. And the bank made a very simple decision with me. If any -- they would let me reopen, but on one condition, that the $75 billion I had not processed every single night had to go down. So, if I did more business and hadn't processed it and God knows everything I was going to do, I was going to mock it up, because Cantor Fitzgerald could not have been more destroyed.
But the key was, as long as we bailed out and got rid of some of the older stuff and it was less than the new stuff problems, we could survive. And so, I had a number, on the 19th of September, it was $58 billion.
And when we had opened our equity business, this was unbelievable, we figured we would do one trade per client because we were afraid if you screwed it up, the banks would close us down. And what -- what happened was, our clients, they felt so much desire to help us, that they all did their business with us. We had the busiest day we'd ever had in the history of the firm on the first day we reopened it when we couldn't possibly handle it.
When I went home that night, that was on the 17th, my wife said, so what happened today? I said, we were killed with kindness. We told the world that we were hungry. And everyone in the world stuck a piece of bread in our mouth, and I think we're done.
And so, when I se you play that part of the interview, it is -- I don't think I could have been a bigger mess.
MORGAN: Is it fair to say that until the money came in to the families, that the decision you took, the incredibly tough, the only decision you could take really to cut off the paycheck made you temporarily a bad figure to them? An enemy figure until the money began to come and they could see that you were going to be good to your promise?
LUTNICK: Until I was able to send them money, and by the way, you sent them money on October 22nd. So what we did was obviously the firm was going to be much, much smaller. We calculated how much money we needed to survive. We had $45 million that we could live without. And on October 22nd, bang, we sent out $45 million to these families.
And right then, the sound like a vacuum just stopped. The media had been beating on us. Some family members were saying that they doubted us. And then, silence.
And I never went back out and never went out and gave interviews and things. I just felt I had one job and that's to do what I said and to do what our partners were committed to doing. And do what our employees were killing themselves to do, which was take care of these families.
Our goal was to do one thing. That was their true friend -- that was our goal and that's what we set out to do.
MORGAN: And you most certainly achieved that, Howard.
We'll take another break now. And when we come back, I want to talk to you about where you were when you heard Osama bin Laden was dead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: I got to do what I do every day. We're going to have a big ceremony and thanks all the victims; families (INAUDIBLE) and New York is back. And terrorist will not win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on his way to work this morning on the city's subway. Back with me now is Howard Lutnick, CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald.
Howard, where were you when you heard that Navy SEALS had shot and killed Osama bin Laden?
LUTNICK: I was sitting at home, just watching television with my family. And every phone I owned rang. My house phone was ringing. My cell phone was ringing, my wife's cell phone. First I got calls from everyone who I know in Washington. They all called me to tell me.
And then I got calls from the local politicians and local police to tell me and then it was on the news. So I heard it pretty much straight away.
MORGAN: What was your emotion? Was it one of euphoria? Was it one of satisfaction? Did you feel any kind of closure?
LUTNICK: Well, you saw on television, there was these crowds at the White House chanting USA, USA. That -- that's fine for other people. But obviously for victims themselves, that's not the emotion that goes through it. What I felt was, you know, I was glad that justice was done. I was glad that he would never, by his hand, do this to any other familiar in the world.
So in that matter, you know, I was glad he was done. But it doesn't really bring closure. 9/11 is a part of me. It's a part of all of us. It doesn't define us. But we move forward. We move forward with it. So it didn't bring me closure. But I was glad that justice was done.
MORGAN: Obviously, with the 10th anniversary just a couple of days away now, you've obviously been thinking about this for a while, I would imagine. How do you intend to commemorate the day?
LUTNICK: Well, you know, the National September 11 Museum is opening that morning. The president is going to be there and all of these politicians. I won't be there. I'll wait until they all leave. And when it's nice and quiet and the pomp and circumstance has left, I'm going to take my family and a number of other Cantor Fitzgerald families. We're going to go down and I'm just going to see the -- my brother's name and my friend's names.
It's really an absolutely beautiful memorial. And all of our Cantor names are listed together and done by department, and done so that the people who were friends with each other are next to each other, which was really an incredibly difficult thing to do, but we did.
And then I'll head uptown. And we have our own memorial in Central Park. We'll have probably 3,000 or 4,000 people. We'll have clergy. They're sort of not having clergy of all faiths downtown. We, of course, are having clergy of all faiths, because I don't have -- whatever the political issues are, I couldn't care less about them.
And our families will speak. And what's interesting is I always call family members three or four days before. I don't give them too much time to think about it because it will make it too nervous, I have learned over the years. I ask them to speak. Families always say the same thing. They say, Howard, what do you want me to say?
I said, I want you to speak about your loved one, you know, like Teddy, who died. Tell us all about him. Tell us about his kids. How's everyone doing? Just keep him alive for us. Keep his memory alive. She says, well, that seems so selfish, Howard. Don't you think that seems too selfish?
I said how were the families who spoke last year? She said, they were fantastic. I said, well, I said the same thing. And it's beautiful. When you're speaking to a crowd of people with broken hearts, you speak right into their hearts. It's beautiful.
That's what we're going to do. On September 12th, because September 11th is on Sunday, we'll have a global charity day. What we do is we don't give away our profits. We give away all of our revenue. To think how extraordinary our employees are -- I have 5,000 employees. They give up their day's pay.
So we give away all of our revenue to about 100 charities around the world. And we have celebrities come and they pick up the phone, you know, everybody. It's in the U.S. It's in London. It's in Asia, all around the world. Last year, just under 12 million dollars were raised on that one day. So we try to make the toughest, toughest day of the year something beautiful so we can help others.
MORGAN: When I hear you talk, Howard, I mean, I -- your reputation before 9/11 was as a hard, tough businessman. You know, you would do what it takes to make a great deal, to get money into the company and so on. And I guess with that comes a certain kind of Wall Street style values.
When I hear you talk now, you seem a very different character, I would imagine, to the pre-9/11 Howard Lutnick. How do you think you've changed as a human being through what's happened?
LUTNICK: You know, I was orphaned when I was young. My mom died when I was 16. And my father was killed. He went in for his first chemotherapy shot on September 12th, 1979 and the nurse made a terrible mistake and gave him 100 times the dose and killed him.
And what happened that day, I knew what hell looked like. I'd been to hell before. And my extended family, they didn't come to our aid. They were afraid. You know, my brother, my sister and I, we were orphaned. We would be sticky. If they reached their hand in, they would -- we would stick. We would end up living in their house.
So they all pulled out. So I had seen what pulling out looked like. There was just no way I was going to pull out. So Cantor Fitzgerald and the employees of Cantor Fitzgerald, we're all in. And when you're all in, that means you're really all in.
And what I think it clarifies for me is that while work is about money, you know, your work is full of human beings. And they have wives and children and they're beautiful. So when you run a business, you have to make tough decisions. There's no choice about it. You can't be a softy and run a successful company. It's just not going to happen.
But what you can do is you can treat people with respect. You can treat them with dignity. You can be transparent. You can call them up. It doesn't mean you won't have to make tough decisions. But you can call them up and talk to them about them and explain them and be a human being.
So I think what happened with 9/11 is it allowed me to understand that I'm a human being and I need to express my humanity. That was the most important thing. Taking care of these families was the way I could be a human being. How we run our company is we try to be just better human beings.
We're by no means perfect. We do make tough decisions, that's for sure. But we try to do it as human beings.
MORGAN: We're going to take a short break, Howard, and ask you about the way you rebuilt your company and the parallels that you can draw now, as one of America's top CEOs, to the way that America needs to rebuild itself and its economy, to get people back to work, the kind of ethos that you need to make these things happen.
MORGAN: Back with my special guest, Howard Lutnick. Howard, you rebuilt Cantor Fitzgerald literally from the ashes. And you turned it into a bigger, more successful company than it ever was before. You did it driven by what happened to you and your family and your colleagues on that terrible day ten years ago.
When you look at America now, and you see the state of the economy, you see the unemployment figures and so on, you see a real crisis enveloping your country, what do you think President Obama really needs to do to deal with this? You've been through a crisis, a different one, but you came out of that crisis better than the American economy did.
Why is that? How can America get itself back on its feet?
LUTNICK: I think people in Washington spend too much time in Washington. So they think Washington-centric thoughts. I used to live in London in June, July, and August because I didn't want to be so American. I felt, you know, you had to vote with your feet and you had to be more international.
So Washington is not the engine of the economy. It's just not. And as long as they think what is Washington going to be do to fix our economy, they can't fix it. Businesses can fix the economy. They need to hire people.
So one of my views was when Warren Buffet came out and said we should raise taxes on Americans, and he should pay more taxes. My view was Warren Buffett is a really, really smart guy. Instead of him giving the government an extra 100 million dollars a year -- maybe that's what he thinks he should pay extra. What he should do is he should invest that 100 million, and not buy shares of Bank of America, which is going to lay of 30,000 or 40,000 people, but do startups, invest in startups.
Start by giving people jobs. Build jobs. So what we did is we set out to help our friends' families. But I knew I needed a business to do it. In so doing, I had 916 employees before September 11. I lost 658. I had 302 people on the end of the day, September 11th. I had secretaries without bosses. I had divisions that could not be rebuilt.
By December, 2001, I had 150 employees in New York. Now we have 1,500 employees in New York. We hired for a purpose, which was we wanted to take care of our friend's families. I think we should do is something that's entrepreneurial in a social way, that people should -- who have the money and who have the skills, should get out, start businesses, grow their businesses and invest.
Have a philanthropy of employment, instead of talking about raising taxes. They should spend the same money, but invest it in America. I like that model a lot better. I think the engine of America is business job growth.
So I like the idea of talking about it. But let's face it, you know, you cut employment taxes? Is that really going to drive the business? You've got to figure out ways to really get employers to want to hire and to grow their business. And it's not about Washington. It's just the wrong side of the coin.
MORGAN: Howard, it's been an extraordinary experience talking to you. One of the most powerful interviews I think I've ever conducted. But I really appreciate you reliving what you had to go through and being so optimistic about the future. Thank you so much.
LUTNICK: Thanks. Thank you very much.
Coming up, a woman who very nearly lost her life on 9/11 at CAntor Fitzgerald, Laura Manning.
MORGAN: My next guest was on her way to work at Cantor Fitzgerald on 9/11 when a plane hit the North Tower. Laura Manning was hit by a wall of flame that burned more than 80 percent of her body. She tells her story of her 10 year journey of survival in the book "Unmeasured Strength, My Story of Survival and Transformation."
Laura Manning joins me now. Lauren, thank you for joining me. I just had a very emotional, inspiring interview, in many ways, with your former boss, Howard Lutnick. And he told me to say from the start that, as far as he was concerned, you were a fantastic sales woman. Never mind of anything else, and that you would like to be reminded of that, because obviously your life changed very dramatically afterwards.
LAUREN MANNING, AUTHOR "UNMEASURED STRENGTH": I think in the business of life, we all need to sell ourselves, sometimes to our self. That's wonderful to hear. I love Howard. He's a wonderful man.
MORGAN: Take me back to that dreadful day ten years ago. You were on your way to work. You reached the lobby of the tower? What happen? MANNING: I reached the lobby. I was running slightly late. As I turned the corner to the elevator bank, there was this tremendous quaking sound, feeling. the Building shook. And it was followed by a piercing whistle.
And probably a second or so later, out of the elevator shafts blew a wall of fire that enveloped me. I was spun around. And I began what was a battle at that moment. I was on fire. Woman that I had smiled at on my way in were on fire as well.
And I struggled to get out against the back draft. And I was eventually spit out onto the sidewalk, and made my way across the street to a grassy area to drop and roll.
MORGAN: And a bystander, I think somebody you may have worked with, came and threw a coat over you, which may well have saved your life. You've never said who that was. You know who it is, don't you?
MANNING: It was a bond trader at another firm. And he and a friend, civilians that were incredibly brave that day, ran onto that bank where a few others had made it. And as I was rolling he came, helped me. And for 50 minutes, I was there and eventually made my way, with assistance from him, over to the ambulance. He was a true hero.
MORGAN: It's hard to believe, looking at you today, Lauren, that you had 80 percent of your body burned that day. I mean, it's enough to normally kill people. How do you think you've managed to come through this?
I mean, most people, women in particular, to have such a devastating attack on their body like this, I would imagine, is just the worst thing that you could ever go through. How have you found the courage and the strength to battle through?
MANNING: I think it was a combination of how I was raised. My parents were incredibly supportive. And as my father, a form Marine, would say, things are going to get tough. You'll suffer disappointments. But get over it.
And certainly my career really laid the groundwork for the perspective of every day, you know, you start from zero. And you've always got to work. So it became my job and my recovery. And certainly as a woman, it was very, very difficult.
You know, we define ourselves not only by our careers but by how we look. And it was very hard to literally have the skin ripped off my body and to know that I would never look the same again, and in many ways have to learn to inhabit a new place.
MORGAN: You had obviously a great man with you, your husband. He stood by you. And you had a very young baby at the time. You've had another child since. How important was it for you to have not just your husband, but also that little baby, who you had to bring up as a mother, despite what you were going through?
MANNING: He was the driving force that day in my decision to live. It certainly would have been far easier to succumb to the pain. And I saw a vision of him. And we had tried so hard to have a child. He was only ten months old. And it was truly for Tyler that I lived.
I hadn't had him long enough. And he is certainly my tribute and my life's work. I'm here.
MORGAN: Where will you be, Lauren, on Sunday when the anniversary takes place?
MANNING: I will be, as I always am, with my Cantor Fitzgerald family. And we remember those that are gone, and we reflect how we've been able to move forward in many ways. It's been a long and challenging journey for everyone.
MORGAN: I asked Howard Lutnick this and I'll ask you as well. Did you feel any sense of closure when Osama bin Laden was killed?
MANNING: I felt this sense that it was good we got the titular head, as it was, of al Qaeda. However, like a cancer, it was one piece of the disease. And unfortunately, it has tentacles that reach far beyond that one man.
MORGAN: Well, Lauren, it's been a pleasure to talk to you. I've got to say, this is one of the most extraordinary books I've read in a long time, "Unmeasured Strength".
I recommend everyone go and read this, because it's a tale of inspiration and courage when I think many would have just packed it in. So I congratulate you on that. And I hope that Sunday isn't too painful for you and your Cantor Fitzgerald colleagues.
MANNING: Thank you very much, Piers.
MORGAN: Lauren Manning.
Coming up, another New Yorker whose life was changed by 9/11.
MORGAN: 9/11 changed everything for New Yorkers. Some have been working ever since to build a positive legacy from the aftermath of that day of destruction. Here's one man's story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF PARNESS, CNN HERO: September 11th was a very tough time for the fire department. I lost some friends, guys I went to the academy with. Day afterwards, people came from everywhere to help us out. It was incredible. You know you weren't alone.
For a New Yorker to see that outpouring of kindness and generosity was more powerful than the terror that happened. That really changed me.
I'm Jeff Parness, and I just want to show the world that New Yorkers will never forget what people did for us following 9/11. Every year on the 9/11 anniversary, we take volunteers from New York and send them to some part of the country where they had a disaster and help folks rebuild.
They pull into town and the tallest thing there is the grain silo, it's definitely a little culture shock.
Rebuilding homes or barns or churches, it's our way to say thank you. Now more than half our volunteers are not from New York. People are all the small towns that we've helped, they keep showing up to help the next community. They're from Louisiana, California, Indiana, Illinois.
Every year, you keep seeing more t-shirts from more locations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After Katrina, we just jumped on his bandwagon. This whole paying it forward thing is just contagious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like this big dysfunctional family reunion of all the disaster survivors who get together and do a barn raising.
PARNESS: You're banging nails and building something, but it's the relationships that help you heal.
It's about using the 9/11 anniversary to celebrate that volunteer spirit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll see you all next year.
PARNESS: People say thank you for doing this. I say, do you want to thank me? Show up on the next one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: For more information, go to CNNHeroes.com
That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts right now.