Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)

No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

“So, do you look in a crystal ball or something?”

That’s one of the most common quips Jim Bottomley hears when he shares that he’s a futurist.

The Vancouver Island man is always hesitant to share what he does for a living because he’s been perceived as highfalutin or stuck up by some.

“It’s not about ‘pie in the sky’ sort of predictions,” said the 63-year-old. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.”

Simply put, a futurist is someone who helps make predictions and possibilities of the future based on trends, technology and research.

Although predictions are the name of the game, he can’t tell you what the interest rate will look like in two to three years. One of the key rules he follows is not giving solid numbers, as he says it’s destined to be wrong.

Bottomley never imagined that he would end up becoming a futurist, but the stars aligned for him back in the 1980s.

READ MORE: Sooke author short-listed for national writing prize

He was working under the pet foods division of Quaker Oats Co. when his boss asked him whether they should invest more into cat food or dog food. Bottomley conducted interviews and extensive research to give the best presentation to the board. He determined that cats were the leading trend, and the team moved forward with his suggestion.

From that moment on, his path to becoming a futurist was set.

Fast forward, Bottomley has worked with all sorts of clientele, anywhere from political parties to cosmetic companies. He said he enters any conversation with a new client by asking them what they are trying to sell. By their response, he can tell whether they’re headed towards success or failure.

“Take the Ford F150, for example,” said Bottomley. “Some would say, ‘you’re selling a truck.’ You’re selling intimidation. Big protective vehicles seem protective, and customers are always looking for safety.”

He pointed out other companies, like Revlon, depend on emotional benefits. While chatting with their marketing executives, he helped their team determine that they weren’t just selling lipstick. They were selling hope.

RELATED: The long road to recovery will have a few bumps for Greater Victorians

Bottomley said the timeline for how long he spends researching and preparing a presentation to each client ultimately depends on the industry’s scope. During his time working for the American dairy industry, the clients felt like their consumers didn’t fully understand the effort farmers put into their milk and beef products.

Bottomley helped them navigate the situation by suggesting that the addition of a cow on the carton’s side with a farmer might improve public reception.

“I had no idea what a futurist was until I met him myself,” said Doni Eve, a friend of Bottomley’s since 2016 and member of the Sooke Writers’ Collective.

“He’s done a fantastic job carving out a niche for himself, and I’m surprised at how much research he does to understand the challenges companies face. He’s just a vibrant and engaging person to be around.”

Since the first wave of the pandemic, Bottomley said speaking gigs and interested clients have dramatically dropped.

“Trends change,” said Bottomley. “I have no plans to retire anytime soon, but it’s hard to predict how quickly business will bounce back and whether it will be as successful as before. But you’ve just got to take your shot.”

Looking ahead, the Sooke man has focused his efforts towards writing Hypnotizing Lions, a psychological thriller novel centred around an escape from a prison psychiatric hospital. He’s been working on it since 1984 and plans to release it later this year.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

ALSO READ: Head in the clouds: Sooke resident recalls former career as astronaut training officer


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

choices for the futureSooke

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

The Barriere Outdoor Club’s ski and snowshoe trails at the Barriere Forks Trails had plenty of snow last week, and thanks to the club’s groomer, Steve Rainer, the trails were reported to be in great shape (Mary MacLennan photo)
Outdoor ski and snowshoe trails ready at Barriere Forks

New signs and freshly groomed ski and snowshoe trails are ready and… Continue reading

(Metro Creative graphic)
Heart Stroke takes Heart Month fundraiser 100% online

Door-to-door Canvass goes virtual as pandemic accelerates digital innovations

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Most Read