May 15th, 2016 - Reputation

“In a gentle way you can shake the world.” – Ghandi

Almost three years ago – in June 2013 – I posted a call for help on Facebook. Our home was suddenly riverfront and my husband was helplessly watching our basement fill with water… the silt-laden Elbow River water mixed with sewage was slowly encroaching on our main floor.

The response to my post was swift, supportive and bolstering. Thank God. We needed it, and at the time we didn’t know the worst was yet to come: the day after day of shoveling guck out of our house. Clothing, furniture and memories soaked in a gruesome cocktail of water and sewage we called poop soup.

We learned a valuable lesson during these nasty floods of 2013: when people are in need, JUST SHOW UP. Help. Don’t ask. Don’t say “Call me if you need anything.”

Just. Show. Up.

So of course I’ve been thinking a lot of the 2013 floods in the last couple of weeks.

Overcome with empathy for the people of Fort McMurray, our family has been looking for ways to just show up. We’ve donated to the Red Cross, provided for some of the new families enrolled at my daughter’s school, and donated countless diapers, tampons, tooth brushes, tubes of tooth paste, packs of baby food and other essentials.

Through it all, I’ve been hoping that these gestures are helping – supporting, bolstering and making life just a bit easier for an evacuee.

Then my 14-year-old did something small but significant. She talked to her school guidance counselor and offered to use her experience with the 2013 floods to mentor some of the newly enrolled students from Fort Mac. With her gentle soul and open nature she touched some young lives and made them feel a little better. It didn’t cost anything but her time, and yet I think that of any of the donations we’ve made, this kindness was the most impactful.

Since the forest fires forced the people of Fort McMurray from their homes, we’ve seen amazing examples of people just showing up. It’s a display that restores my faith in human kindness. But it has me wondering, why can’t we be like this all of the time? Why can’t we just show up regularly for our friends, neighbours, family, co-workers and clients? We shouldn’t need a remarkable event to make a remarkable impact.

As Ghandi once said, ‘In a gentle way, you can shake the world’. He was pretty smart.


PS. Big Beef Brouhaha blog follow-up

Three days after I blogged about Earls’ beef with Alberta beef, Earls admitted they had made a mistake. Good on them. (In case you missed it, here’s a link to the original blog:

While Earls will continue to serve beef raised without hormones and antibiotics, they will source as much as they can from Canadian ranchers instead of using a single US-based supplier.

It’s the right compromise, and it shows that speaking up and standing up for what you believe in is another way that you can gently shake the world. As an aside … think about the word ‘gently’. Truly listening and working to a compromise beats chest pounding.

With gratitude,

Shannon Larkins

Inspired by a little blackcoffee

Some of my favourite moments are spent in search of something beautiful while I drink my first cup of coffee and hear the house wake up. From there I move on to the paper and the news of the day. In this space, I’ll share some of those inspirations.


Shannon Larkins

Founder, Blackcoffee Studio

Over the course of 15+ years, Shannon has grown Blackcoffee Studio out of a love for building brands and reputations. She serves up Blackcoffee as a morning ritual while caffeinating clients and readers on the regular. You can find her at


Blackcoffee Studio

Blackcoffee is a premium brand development agency, offering luxury brand experience to clients at home in Calgary, Canada and around the globe. Brands create experience, set you apart from the competition and drive growth. Anyone can bulid a business but only the exceptional can create a brand. Are you ready?

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Hi I’m Shannon, founder of Blackcoffee Studio. A former reporter, spin doctor and politico, I now focus on using my powers for good.

I create mighty brands for clients and share their stories with the world. I’m also rather addicted to my nutty family, dogs with pushed in faces, Mexico and of course coffee … black.