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

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

The platanthera dilatata is the fragrant white bog orchid whose perfume on a hot August day is one of the unforgettable delights of a summer hike in Strathcona Park. Photo supplied
Strathcona Wilderness Institute AGM upcoming

The Strathcona Wilderness Institute (SWI) will hold its 2021 annual general meeting… Continue reading

The candidates in the recent municipal by-election say while they’re disappointed with the voter turnout, most are intending to take another run at a seat in 2022. Black Press File Photo
Candidates lament low voter turnout in Campbell River municipal by-election

Many say they will still be putting their names forward again in the future, however

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

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

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Cole Moore with one of his sisters, Jasmin Moore. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island man looks to brain surgery for second chance

Fingers crossed that procedure can give Cole Moore a new lease on life after decade of seizures

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Most Read