Video: Lives, careers changed on Wall Street

Talent Names - Melissa Lee
By Melissa Lee Reporter
updated 9/11/2006 11:09:02 AM ET 2006-09-11T15:09:02

Lisa Della Pietra lived what she thought was the good life. She was a high-powered broker at H.C. Wainwright, making more money than she ever dreamed possible.

“The more you have, the more you want. And you get caught up in the stuff and the materialistic things in life,” she says.

But everything changed when her brother called on the morning of Sept. 11.

“He had called me after the first plane hit,” she says.

Joseph was nine years Lisa’s junior. He worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, high atop the north tower of the World Trade Center.

That day, he would call Lisa once more — to tell her he’d be OK.

“I think there are some days that I’m still in shock and I don't believe that Joey is gone,” she says.

Also gone: Della Pietra’s Wall Street ambition. Now, instead of selling stocks, she raises money for her high school alma mater’s 9/11 scholarship fund, which honors 11 alumni who died on that day. Including Joey.

“I'm the poorest now, and I've gone through more pain now, than I did in my entire life. And I'm the happiest I've been.”

Della Pietra is just one of many Wall Streeters who, after Sept. 11, walked away from the publishing reports, executing trades or building spreadsheets. Hoping to dance to a different beat. Like Ney Melo.

This tango virtuoso – who now gives lessons around the world – was a Lehman Bros. banker on the morning of Sept. 11.

It was in an elevator, stuck between floors, where the banker made the deal of a lifetime with himself.

“If I get out of here, I’m never doing this job again,” he remembers telling himself.

Just a block away, Kevin Laub was fleeing from the 62nd floor of Tower 2 after United Airlines Flight 175 struck.

Laub hasn’t looked back. He’s now an English teacher in Virginia.

Sept. 11 is also playing a role in what's going on here in South Beach, Florida. These rugs were handmade by women in Afghanistan, and now they're in the limelight, where Nikki Hilton is lending her celebrity – and rug designs – to a charity founded by former Goldman Sachs partner Connie Duckworth.

It’s called Arzu, which means “hope” in Dari. The nonprofit pays Afghani women to weave rugs. In return they put their kids through school and take literacy classes. Then the rugs are sold back here in the States.

"Weaving for Arzu is often the difference between life and death. It allows them to put food on the table. We have families that are eating meat for the first time literally in years,” Duckworth says.

Ways of weaving a new life, thanks, in part, to a tragedy.

A tragedy that Della Pietra, like so many others, is trying to turn positive.

“He gave up his life so I could have a better one. And that's what I do every day. I try to have a better life,” she says.

© 2012 CNBC, Inc. All Rights Reserved


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