Changed lives: the man who lost 657 of his staff

Lee Amaitis, is the New-York born London-based chief executive of Cantor Fitzgerald International, the brokerage firm that lost 657 out of 1,000 staff in the World Trade Centre disaster.
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The Independent US

There is absolutely no part of my life that hasn't been affected by what happened. I think about it all of the time, particularly the loss of my three best friends, Vinnie Abate, Mike Uliano and Vinnie's brother, Andrew. Virtually every day, I feel like talking to them and I think that I'm not talking to them enough. And then I remember that they're not there any more. I knew so many of the people who died.

I went over to New York recently and visited the site and I just couldn't put into words what that did to me. I simply couldn't imagine what it must have been like for them. Everyone has been very nice to us; strangers come up and offer sympathy, but you don't know what to say to them.

When I came into this business, I dreamt of working hard and getting out by the time I was 40, then 45, then 50 – and here I am at 51 and still going. Cantor Fitzgerald has put together a package to try to help the bereaved – there were 1,463 children left behind – so for the next five years, 25 per cent of all profits will go to them.

That means that now I have to work harder. My days are no longer 10 to 12 hours long; they're 14 to 16 and they might get longer. I'm an obsessive compulsive and I love my work and live for this company. But now I know I'm going to have to work harder for all those people, all those children. Don't get me wrong – I'm not a martyr. I want to be successful, too. But from now on, whenever I make money, I know I'm making it for those people as well.

It worries me a little. At the very latest, I used to say that I wanted to get out by the speed limit – 55, the old US limit – but now that might not be possible. I work too hard and too long and it has had a detrimental affect on my life in the past. I hope that it doesn't have the same effect on my future. But I always thought of us as a family. And at times of need, you don't let your family down.

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