December 3rd, 2017 - Personal Brand

Navigating a bizarre new world

My life changed on a sleepless night back in March. You know, those 2 AM startled wake-ups. The tossing and turning of trying to find your way back to sleep. It was usual for me to wake up in a panic of work to be conquered, lists to be made, and problems to solve. Lack of sleep and too much work was making me a bit loco.

That particular March in middle of the night, I reached for my phone and started to scroll … hoping to anesthetize my brain with mindless social media. I clicked from Facebook over to Pinterest and a blog post on graphic design caught my eye. Read, read, click, click and I was on the author’s website – scroll, read, scroll, read.

She piqued my interest, this young woman from Chicago (let’s call her Kate), so I sent an email and we connected on Skype. Kate said all the right things. I hired her on the spot. I bought time in her schedule and emailed off a few months worth of work.

Turns out Kate talked a good game but never delivered. Not one thing. Deadlines were missed and emails went unanswered.

Yet, while she ignored the work, I was on her mailing list so I’d receive her blog posts and email sequences. They were full of interesting topics like Don’t let your clients walk all over you and Sticking up for yourself in businessorMaking time for life outside your business.

Basically the client was painted as the bad guy. Someone to disdain, turn your nose up at, a necessary evil until you could launch your amazing passive income stream and forget about troublesome clients all together.

My mind was blown. Money wasted.

My business has been built on rolling out the red carpet for clients. Being there for them 24/7 and helping them grow their businesses. I marveled at this bizarre mindset, fired Kate and moved on – grateful to her only for handing me the key to the semi-secret world of online entrepreneurs, a world that is exploding with energy and optimism, new ways of thinking and powerful connections.

Following the firing, I spent my free time feeling like Alice after she dropped down the rabbit hole: new friends and new ways of doing things … it was all there waiting to be explored and enjoyed.

I’ve learned a lot from this new world over the past few months … and we’ll talk more about that in future blogs … but the biggest lesson? Be wary of the new age of Snakeoil Salesmen. This captivating and charismatic breed of online entrepreneurs that promise the world and deliver little. They’ll roll out their rags to riches tale and assure you the recipe for similar success resides with them. They’ll dangle ‘clickbait’ in front of you, taunt you with freebies in exchange for your email address and then fill your inbox with their courses, offerings and mystery magic guaranteed to make you an overnight success.

Meanwhile, behind the curtain, they are Kate, complaining about customers and searching for the elusive passive income that will allow them to make lots of money while doing little.

I learned my lesson (thank you Kate) and from there I learned to dig for internet gold to discover new clients and new colleagues that believe in hard work and in offering value. Like-minded souls that put a premium on serving clients. I haven’t bought any online courses, but I’ve learned that when you live your brand and your values, you attract clients and co-workers that live by the same code.

And that has been a joy, it’s been an honour and it’s allowing a monumental shift in the power and the reach of Blackcoffee. We’re growing a team of incredible people and strong talent, widening our offerings and finding new ways to provide access to our luxury brand and reputation management services to any client who wants to play their best game.

Current clients and subscribers will get a sneak peak at our new look and flavour over the holiday season … the rest of the world might have to wait until a month or two.

So, if you haven’t already signed up, head over to and get on our mailing list to be in the know and have a chance to win some Christmas goodies.

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.