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Slack CTO Cal Henderson will make sure his kids learn people skills



cal henderson slack ignition.JPG
CTO Cal Henderson speaks at Business Insider’s IGNITION
conference in December, 2018.

Jin S.

  • Cal Henderson, CTO of workplace messaging app Slack,
    spoke about the future of work at Business Insider’s IGNITION
    2018 conference.
  • No matter how much things change at work in the next 10 or 20
    years, he said, we’re all still going to have to work with other
    people — so people skills will be crucial.
  • Read more coverage from IGNITION

No one can predict the future.

“We overestimate change over the next five years, and massively
underestimate it over the next 10,” said Slack CTO
Cal Henderson
at Business Insider’s IGNITION conference, when
asked about his thoughts on the future of the internet, and what
that will mean for the workplace.

“I feel fairly strongly that we’re not going to be in a super VR
future in the next ten years, that people at their desks in the
workplace aren’t going to be wearing VR headsets and shouting at
Alexa,” he continued. “But it’s hard to imagine how it is going
to evolve.”

Henderson pointed to the shift to mobile in the workplace, which
he said happened “really, really quickly.” At first, he said, it
was “a constant drumbeat of next year is going to be the year of
mobile internet, and that just seemed so dumb — and then suddenly
everybody is working in both modes.”

Before working with now-Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield to build
photo sharing site Flickr (which was ultimately sold to Yahoo)
and pursuing a few different
failed gaming companies
, Henderson was an early blogger in
London almost 20 years ago. He’s had a front-row seat to how much
the internet, and work, has changed already.

When Business Insider asked him which skills he’d make sure his
own two children learn to in order to enter the workforce, he
said that technology changes so rapidly he can’t predict exactly
which tech skills will be the most valuable in the next 10 or 20
years. The one thing he’s sure will be needed, though, is the
ability to work with other people.

“I don’t know what the technological skills are going to be that
they need,” Henderson said, “but I think that whatever the
workplace looks like 20 years from now, we’re still going to have
to work with other humans. And so the most important skills are
communication and collaboration skills: empathy and courtesy.”

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