Meeting Peter Sondergaard
Do you have people in your life that you admire from afar, but never have a thought of meeting them? Peter Sondergaard was one of those people for me. He is the Senior Vice President of Research at Gartner and my exposure to him was limited to sitting in an audience at the Gartner Symposium once a year in October and watching him open the Symposium with professionalism, confidence, and a booming voice.
I was notified that I would be meeting him for a 30 minute discussion on a topic of my choice. At first, I couldn’t take it in. What, me meeting with Peter? And a topic of my choice? What should it be?
I managed to move past the disbelief and prepared. I submitted my topic and looked forward to the discussion.
On the day of the meeting, I had breakfast with a friend and then arrived at the meeting room a few minutes early.
As I walked into the room, Peter approached me and shook my hand saying simply and naturally “It’s nice to meet you Kelley”. I had this reaction – he is just a normal person. Okay, okay, I knew that before I met him. But in my experience I had only seen him onstage and his voice was strong and booming and my brain expected him to boom at me “HELLO KELLEY, I’M PETER”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he didn’t boom at me since I may have had a difficult time moving into a conversation after that.
We sat on white leather couches, and talked about technology. We discussed technology and banking, and some people and companies he thought I would find interesting. He offered to connect me to some of these technology executives, he gave me his perspective on strategies I was pondering, and the time flew by.
As we were wrapping up and I was conscious to not run over my time limit, he asked if there was anything else he could do for me. This was the moment – would I have the nerve? I did! I asked if I could have a photo with him. He graciously said yes and took off his name badge. I did the same, we posed, got three shots just to be sure, and then said our good-byes.
I’m sure he meets many people who just take it all in stride. I didn’t. I appreciate the time he took, the advice he gave, and the thrill of meeting a geek I admire. While I give many public speeches, I never have delivered them with the booming voice. Building on the terrific interaction on this October day with Peter, maybe one day I’ll try it.