Box of Crayons Blog


Nancy Duarte’s Five Essential Books for Growing Your Business

Nancy Duarte is the CEO of Duarte, Inc., author of the new book released today,  Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols, and also Resonate, and  Slide:ology.  She and her firm have been upping the ante on presentation design in Silicon Valley and beyond for over 20 years.The largest design agency in the Silicon Valley, and 5th largest woman-owned employer, Duarte, Inc. is estimated to have created more than a quarter of a million presentations. If you work in an organization, if you want to do more Great Work, you need to be able to engage people with your ideas, not smother them with bad PowerPoint. That’s what Nancy stands for. Here are her five essential books for growing your business.

Book 1: Good to Great by Jim Collins

This book changed me so deeply, I probably owe Jim Collins more than a mention in a listicle. I believe this book is why my company is still around today. In an era of do-it-all, this book taught me to focus my company’s efforts only on one thing, presentations. In 2001 when the economy was crashing, instead of pushing into new territory, Jim’s book taught me to do one thing well (like a hedgehog).

Book 2: Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

I was inspired by how Catmull led his team of creatives at Pixar, I bought this book for everyone in my company. And then we created our own version of Notes Day, which we called Shop Day. Watching my employees work on this company so passionately and effectively was so fruitful, that each January, it has become an annual tradition — and changed my leadership style forever.

Book 3: Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson

If Good to Great is responsible for my company’s present, Crucial Conversations is shaping our future. Especially as we grow, it is essential that we learn the tools to communicate with one another from a place of empathy, mutual trust and respect, even during long nights and looming deadlines. This book is teaching us to embrace conflict, using it as a catalyst to strengthen our relationships and the quality of our creative.

Book 4: How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins

I cracked open another Jim Collins book at just the right time. Now that Duarte, Inc. has been around over 25 years, you can run the risk of failing. Companies that pressure themselves to scale as the primary goal run the risk of hubris creeping in instead of maintaining quality. It’s from this book that we are committed to only scale at the speed in which we can scale our quality.

Book 5: eMyth Manager by Michael Gerber

Most entrepreneurs have a myriad of skills. The reason we’re fearless about jumping into business is because if we don’t know how to do something, we’ll figure it out and get it done. This worked for me until we hit about 36 people and I was miserable, working long hours and couldn’t rescue myself from myself. eMyth Manager helped me see the value in me transitioning from an Entrepreneur to a Manager.

Meet Nancy Duarte

Nancy-DuarteNancy Duarte is an expert in presentation design and principal of Duarte, Inc., where she has served as CEO for 21 years. Her firm is the global leader behind some of the most influential visual messages in business and culture, the largest design agency in the Silicon Valley, and 5th largest woman-owned employer.  Nancy speaks around the world, seeking to improve the power of public presentations. She’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Wired, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Economist, LA Times and on CNN.



Twitter: @NancyDuarte

YouTube: Duarte Inc.

LinkedIn: Nancy Duarte

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