Skip to main content

Humble Crumbles: Savouring the crumbs of wisdom from the rise and fall of Humble Pie

Paul O’Donnell and Sylvana Caloni
Available for purchase on Amazon


“This book combines the nuts and bolts of business-building with often undervalued but oh-so-critical soft skills, providing budding entrepreneurs with a wonderful holistic approach to the entrepreneurial journey. The fact that both authors have been there and done that makes for a reassuring, enlightening and transformative read. I will definitely be sharing this with my students and placing it at the very top of their reading list !”
LJ Silverman, Head of LSE Generate, LSE Research & Innovation

“A gem of a management book; a must-read for budding entrepreneurs. Refreshingly, it is not a book of ‘Management Theory’, but one based on personal and practical experience and failure. We should all learn from our mistakes but, all too often, by inclination or obstinance, we repeat ourselves. Paul and Sylvana have the wisdom and hindsight to analyse their own mistakes and share their hard-earned experience. The result is an easy-to-read book that synthesises much valuable knowledge of actually HOW to go about launching a successful new business.”
Daniel A Pouget, EIR (Entrepreneur-in-Residence) at INSEAD; NED and Former Senior Partner CEO, DLP James Capel Stockbrokers; Former Managing Director, Nasdaq Europe

“One of the biggest challenges with starting a business is growing it. Humble Crumbles is very relevant in building the sort of leadership that the world requires, especially in these very uncertain times. Every chapter is well-crafted to provoke and inspire long-term thinking. I highly recommend this book to individuals who want to become more visionary in their entrepreneurial journey.”
Samuel T Reddy, Speaker; Impact Entrepreneur; and Author of Leavers to Leaders: Seven Steps to Reinvent Yourself  While in Transition

Humble Crumbles is the book for existing and prospective entrepreneurs. Combining the practical with the analytical, Paul and Sylvana have written a concise desktop companion for the e-class, which can and should be used as a guidepost throughout the adventure. A work of candour, humility, humourand accountability, it’s a refreshing read that should become a staple for academic and professional audiences alike.”
Mike Wilson, Senior Advisor and Board Member, Horizon8

“Storylines, particularly based on real life experiences, are so much more powerful to me when coupled with lessons learnt, lightbulb moments and the honest acknowledgement of mistakes. Such it is with this wonderful recount told through the complimentary skills, talent and experiences of Paul O’Donnell and Sylvana Caloni. Regardless of the industry, this book should be in the library of all contemplating or embarking upon the entrepreneurial experience.”
PH Cunningham, Independent Director, Professional Investment Advisory Services Pte Ltd Singapore

“In Humble Crumbles you will experience a vastly different business book, which in many ways is almost a modern version of a Greek play, transplanted into the world of the entrepreneur. The feast that awaits you is a rich mixture of insights, humour and pathos leavened by great pearls of wisdom. Throughout an easy-to-read and sometimes light-hearted dialogue, you are a silent partner in a conversation between two experts. They tell a fascinating story of the rise and fall of an idea and a brand. At the same time, they share knowledge and advice informed by life’s lessons as well as by the expertise of a highly trained executive coach. The end-game of these experts is to help you consider how your personality, your values, your decisions and the people whom you trust shape the outcomes and the ultimate fate of your enterprise.”
Edna Kissman, Social Entrepreneur; Founder and CEO at The Wonder of Me

“In running a small business, I am learning over and over again that it is not just about the ‘how’, it is the ‘who’ that is just as important: the self-awareness, listening, balancing realism with enthusiasm, managing expectations, and managing myself.  Humble Crumbles is a concise but dense coverage of both the ‘how’ and ‘who’, that I will be coming back to over and over to pick up another idea, gain a new perspective, and to review the advice from a new understanding, as my own experience and knowledge progresses.”
Victoria Silberbauer, COO, Agate Systems Ltd

“How refreshing it is to read a business book where the authors are not claiming to have discovered a new world-beating formula. Humble Crumbles is a ‘warts and all’ story of an entrepreneur and his business from birth to death, overlaid with an expert coaching lens. The style is very accessible, with section summaries called ‘Crumbs of Wisdom’ that are more like ‘Wedges of Wisdom’. But the real beauty of this work is in the confidence the authors have not to make out that they are providing all the answersand, instead, to highlight the importance of asking powerful, pragmatic questions.”
Alan Williams, Author; Founder and Managing Director, ServiceBrand Global

Humble Crumbles is great. The blend of a real-life start-up story with practical business advice is a winning combination. I found myself nodding along (with a wry smile) at the tales, thinking how similar some of Paul O’Donnell’s experiences were to my own, and loving the sage, yet simple advice overlaid by Sylvana Caloni. If only this book was around 20 years ago! Not only is this book concise, which is useful when you want clear direction, but the humour and experience shines through in the writing, making it an easy, fun read over a weekend with a coffee or two. Perfect for the busy entrepreneur who wants some help, but doesn’t do dull!”
Nina Hampson, Co-Founder, Myla; Founder, Zinc and Sideways Consulting; and Business Mentor

“I absolutely love this book – read it from cover to cover in one sitting. The fact that Sylvana and Paul have written such an easy-to-read book demonstrates their knack for getting to key issues that face all entrepreneurs, from idea, or ‘lightbulb moment’, to ultimate success or closure of the business. It is a book that I will be sharing with every aspiring entrepreneur I know, as I am confident it will help them avoid some of the pitfalls of creating one’s own business. The book’s framework is well thought-out and the angles taken by Paul and Sylvana are exactly what I have seen happen in real life. I particularly like the ‘Crumbs of Wisdom’ at the end of each chapter, which when listed out in full make a great how-to-guide for leaders of new businesses. This book is a must-read for anyone thinking about starting a business. It even shows us that when things do not go toplan and your dream business dissolves, you can still emerge stronger, feeling good about what you did, and retain your sense of humour.”
Jeannette Lichner, Non-Executive Director; Executive Coach and Leadership Tutor

 Humble Crumbles offers practical and insightful advice that can only be gleaned from actual experience – the good, the bad and the ugly! Learning from author O’Donnell’s first-hand knowledge of launching a business is so much more enjoyable and effective than simply reading about business concepts and the dos and don’ts of entrepreneurship. Authors O’Donnell and Caloni have brought together the powerful combination of real-life business success and failure with thoughtful self-reflection. Humble Crumbles is a treasure of a book for any aspiring entrepreneur.”
Christine Brown-Quinn, Author of Amazon #1 Best Seller, Unlock Your Career Success: Knowing the Unwritten Rules Changes Everything

“Paul and Sylvana have created an engaging and highly valuable journey into entrepreneurship in Humble Crumbles. The book highlights two key skills that I have discovered in my exploration of effective leadership spanning four decades: the essential skill of paying attention to the right things, and the skill of effective judgement in navigating new territories. In Humble Crumbles Paul’s story shows the challenges and pitfalls of these skills. Sylvana illuminates these and other crucial skills into focus points of ‘crumbs’ of effective action in this story of entrepreneurship that are not available in the mainstream narratives of the entrepreneur. A good read!”
Bob Dunham, Founder of the Institute for Generative Leadership; Co-Author of The Innovator’s Way