My Story Steven Shomler

My Story

In the Summer of 2011 I stood in a dirt driveway in Southeast Portland and decided to bootstrap my way to a new life. I declared that I was going to take my writing seriously and become a Writer , become an Author, a Speaker, become Self Employed and become Part of the Portland Culinary Community. I set a total of 8 goals.

What led up to my decision to bootstrap my way to a better life? I am glad that you asked.

Tribes by Seth Godin          Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuck

In the spring of 2009 I read Seth Godin’s book Tribes and over Thanksgiving weekend 2009 I read Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk. Both those of books inspired me to start a website and start writing.

I launched December 2009 and I began occasionally posting articles. when I posted articles there it was more for fun than anything else. From December 2009 to the summer 2011 I definitely did not take my writing seriously.

In the Summer of 2011 when I made my dirt driveway declaration I had nothing left to lose and I decided that I would go build the life I imagined.


For more than 20 years I had wanted to go to a book store and buy a book on the shelf that I had written — Author. To that date I has spoken publicly more than 400 times and I loved inspiring and equipping people – Speaker. I wanted the flexibility and freedom that comes with being self employed and owning a successful business – Self Employed. I liked that lifestyle that Anthony Bourdain seemed to be living and I loved food, so I decided to become a food writer and leverage that writing so that I could become – Part of the Portland Culinary Community.

My longterm plan was to someday have enough success to get to travel and see the beaches of the world and go places like Peter Island in Caribbean and get back to places like theFontainebleau resort in Miami Beach, and Greece and Jamaica.

As I said,  I had nothing to lose so I set out to live the life I wanted to live.

Bootstrapping my way to a better life 

Up to this point I did not like to write, I did not know anyone in the Portland culinary community, I did not know what book I would write, and I did not know what topics I would be speaking on.

What I did know was that I was hungry and desperate and willing to pay the price needed to live my dreams. 

One strength I did have was my deeply held convictions about Branding, Marketing, and  Social Media and I was convinced that if I applied my perspectives about those concepts to myself that I would succeed.

I also knew that kind of tenacity it takes to succeed in a startup – I call it Startup Tenacity and I was ready to put in the work needed to make my plans happen and I had the mindset that is required when you are bootstrapping your way to a new life.

Prior to 2011 I had worked in two different careers – one in the banking world and one in the non-profit world. I had also provided leadership to three startups, two of which succeeded and one of which failed. As you can imagine I learned the most from the failure.

I was burned out on banking (I had just finished a 4 year run there) and I was ready to build a brand new life and have a whole new career.

Here is the kicker — The Great Recession hit my family later that it hit some, but when it hit us, it hit us hard. By the summer of 2011 we were homeless. We moved from our 5 bedroom home into a one car, unheated, unfinished garage and we lived there from July 2011 to December 2011. I remember sitting in that garage on cold nights in October wearing gloves while I typed telling myself that someday I was going to be able to go into Powell’s or Barnes and Noble and buy a book that I wrote.

I truly know what it is like to bootstrap your way to a new life.

The fall of 2011 I wrote and begin doing research for my first food writer’s project. Jan 1, 2012 I launched my first food centric website and I was off and running.


Four Years Later

By the Summer of 2015 I was well on my way to accomplishing my goals.

Two of my books have been published — Portland Food Cart Stories April 2014, and Portland Beer Stories June 2015. I am now working on my next two culinary books —Portland Coffee Stories and Donut Tales and Oregon Wine Stories and I have a cookbook in the works – Beer Drinkers Cookbook.

I host my own radio show – Tasty Tuesday on 99.1 FM Portland Radio Project and every Tuesday at 9 AM I have a Food Cart owner live and in studio.

I am still active in the Portland Food Cart community and  I consult with someone wanting  wanting to open a Food Cart about twice a month –

I write for two food centric websites and

I am part of a Portland startup brewery Culmination Brewing Company. I am the Culmination Branding and Marketing Director and I have been served and helping out there since December 2014. I became an official part of the Culmination team in May of 2015. I LOVE being part of Culmination!

I launched my own company Spark to Bonfire Consulting and I have been fully self employed since August of 2015. I help my clients with their branding, marketing and social media and I consult quite a bit with people launching startups.

I have about 1-2 speaking engagements a month – I still love public speaking! To date I speak about branding, marketing, social media, and what it takes to succeed in a startup.

From the Summer of 2015 through the Spring of 2016 I invested time into the projects I had going (those listed above) and I took some time beginning to recover from a brutal personal setback.


Update May 2016

It is now May 2016 and I am embarking on my next three year run. During this next step in my journey I will continue the projects I have been doing. I will keep writing books and serving at Culmination, and doing my radio show, etc,

I also plan to take steps to increase my speaking engagements  and I have a couple of other projects I am launching. Here is what is coming down the pike —

Portland Culinary Radio – The Portland Beer Podcast and The Great Food Great Stories Podcast

I created Portland Culinary Radio and it will produce two podcasts — the Portland Beer Podcast and the Great Food Great Stories Podcast. I plan to have both these podcasts available on iTunes by July 2016. I am host of these podcasts and Ken Wilson is my co-host.

I love being a storyteller and these two podcasts are a way for me to get to tell the awesome culinary stories I have come across since the summer of 2011!

Portland Beer Festivals 

I created Portland Beer Festivals and I brought in my friends Brian Yaeger and Arthur Breur to help me launch this fun beer centric project.

The Culmination Back Bar Podcast

We have started a podcast at Culmination Brewing  that covers all things Culmination and it is called the called the Culmination Back Bar Podcast. As far as I know, we are the first brewery to have our own ongoing podcast.

Shom TV

Shom TV is a new project of my 19 year old son Zac Shomler and I get the joy of helping him a little with it. I am regular guest on his videos about movies. I can’t tell you how fulfilling it was to have my son invite to be a part of his journey.

Spark To Bonfire YouTube Channel

Later this summer my son Zac is going to help me establish a Spark to Bonfire YouTube Channel where I will share my thoughts on Bootstrapping Your Way to a New Life, Branding, Marketing, Social Media and Startup Tenacity.

That’s it!

I am Steven Shomler and I am pulling for you!