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

Cowichan Valley writer Jennifer Manuel will headlining YakFest on March 1. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Cowichan Valley writer to headline next YakFest on March 1

YakFest is a B.C.-based monthly women’s event held online via Zoom

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour early on Saturday, Feb. 27. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Tim Schewe
DriveSmart: Police Powers

By Tim Schewe If you are stopped by the police, just what… Continue reading

A COVID-19 exposure has been reported at Drinkwater Elementary School dating to Feb. 25. (Google Street View image)
COVID-19 exposure reported at Drinkwater Elementary

Possible exposures occurred on Thursday, Feb. 25

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

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

Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from BC Ferries staff

After Dasher made a dash, staff in Comox found her and got her home safe

Most Read