Episode 43

Looking Outside Dystopic Futures: Nik Badminton, Global Futurist

Published on: 26th September, 2023

In this episode of Looking Outside we venture into dark futures with global futurist Nikolas Badminton, crossing over the line of realism into dystopia.

Nikolas spent 30 years at the front line of emerging futures, aiding organizations and governments in the anticipating risks that lie ahead and shaking people out of unrealistic expectations. He says now he is hired to do the type of work he’d normally get fired for, as, often, Nik is tasked with telling people the future they are excited about is not going to happen, and prompting frank conversations. He uses ‘impossible’ scenarios to paint preposterous futures, those ideas about the future that appear ridiculous, in order to bring people out of their self interests or away from a yearning for nostalgia.

While positive futures are important, Nik says facing into the fact that ‘bad stuff does exist’ is the important starting point. We often see plans or goals that are so far out, particularly in government policies, that are psychologically disconnected from the people planning them and therefore aren’t designed to provide anything tangible enough to motivate people to act.

Jo and Nik also discuss the need to help organizations see beyond the ‘garbage’ that is out there about emerging risks and trends, often sensationalized, by painting change as accretive, with layers of complexity constantly building, instead of as hinging on a ‘switch’ from one state to another. Nik describes the need to bring people into future states by first taking them into the hybrid state where things are transitioning, seeking out evidence of the future to provide the missing link between disruption and strategy. Often we hear change is happening faster than ever before, but Nik counters that; “If you think things are happening quickly you’re not paying attention”.


To look outside, Nik moves away from his work quite literally by cycling around Toronto's water parks and trails, while listening to music or a podcast. He says through this, his thoughts become clearer and he is happier.


Nikolas Badminton is a global futurist speaker and Chief Futurist that mentors top executives and the highest levels of government to explore desirable futures, anticipate unforeseen risks, and strengthen strategic planning. 

He has spent 30+ years working with leadership at over 400 leading organizations at the frontline of futures, strategy and disruption - including NASA, Disney, Google, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, WM, JP Morgan, Verizon, VISA, TD Bank, American Express, BISCI, ISACA, Rolls Royce, Procter & Gamble, US Department of State, UK Home Office, United Nations, and many more. 

Facing Our Futures: How foresight, futures design and strategy creates prosperity and growth - is Nikolas’ number one best selling book and has been named as JP Morgan Private bank’s ‘Next Gen Pick’ for their prestige 2023 Summer Reading List to guide new leaders to ignite curiosity and embrace futures thinking.

Nikolas’ essential research has been featured by the BBC, VICE, The Atlantic, Fast Company, Business Insider, Forbes, Sunday Telegraph and many others. He appears on SIRIUSXM and CTV regularly, was a key advisor to the ‘Age of AI’ series with Robert Downey Jr, and appears in the Franklin Institute's series ‘2050’.


Looking Outside is a podcast dedicated to exploring fresh perspectives of familiar business topics. The show is hosted by its creator, Joanna Lepore, consumer goods innovator and futurist at McDonald's. Find out more at looking-outside.com.

Connect with Jo and join the Looking Outside community on LinkedIn.


All views are that of the host and guests and don’t necessarily reflect those of their employers. Copyright 2023.

OBOY & Matt Wigton music features in Episode 43.

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About the Podcast

Looking Outside
Fresh perspectives on familiar business topics.
Looking Outside is for curious business leaders looking for a fresh take on familiar topics. Each episode is a conversation with an influential and original thinker, diving into well known areas in a new way.

Hosted by Jo Lepore, business innovator and human-centric futurist.

About your host

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Joanna Lepore

Joanna Lepore is Global Associate Director at Mars Wrigley. She leads foresight for the North American market. An experienced CPG innovator, Joanna is an advocate for collaboration and curious (but critical) thinking.