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

Provincial funding in the amount of $300,000 has been announced for the Cariboo Regional District’s plans to improve the Anahim Lake Airport runway. (CRD photo)
$300,000 provincial funding to fuel Anahim Lake Airport runway upgrade

The recovery grant is one of 38 announced to support jobs in rural communities

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The school is very proud of these students (pictured, left to right): Halim Demir (holding Grace Valdez’ gold certificate); Lauren McIlwain, Shayleen Mack, Jaymen Schieck, Kyle Doiron, and Finn Carlson (photo submitted)
SAMS students excel in international competition

The SAMS team swept their category this year; all six participants received awards

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Most Read