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Experts Unplugged™: Mark Barden, author of A Beautiful Constraint on how to do more with less

Are you trying to grow your coaching or consulting business and you feel like you can’t go fast enough because you don’t have the resources of the “big” players?

We are all faced with the challenge of growing our business within the constraints of the time, the resources, the people and the budget we have. Sometimes the constraint of “not enough” is a huge benefit in growing our business.

  • What if having “no budget” was the key to finding amazing partners to promote your brand offers?
  • What if having “no list” was a massive advantage in building real relationships with clients?
  • What if having “no team” brought you a laser-like focus on the things that were really going to grow your business?

When I first read Adam Morgan and Mark Barden’s book, A Beautiful Constraint: How To Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages, and Why It’s Everyone’s Business, I knew this book was a game-changer.

I’m thrilled to share this interview with you in which we talk about how to overcome the limitations of “lack” and convert them to your biggest advantage.

“Those very limitations that we think automatically are guaranteed to thwart us, and can turn out to be the sources of inspiration and better ideas than we would’ve come up with if we’d had enough.”
-Mark Barden, A Beautiful Constraint

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An Interview with Mark Barden & Jeanine Blackwell


Summary:  2 Ideas from A Beautiful Constraint that You Can Put Into Action

1.  Ask a propelling question to move from limitations to “a beautiful constraint”.

Instead of “I can’t _______ because I _______.”

“I can’t launch my product because I’m not good at tech stuff and I don’t have the money to hire someone.”

Reframe as “I could ______ if I ______.”

“I could launch my product if I could find someone who would do the tech stuff as a trade or I could figure out how to do this myself.”

2.  Do the “mutually beneficial hustle”.

What do you have in abundance that someone else of influence needs?

Think….expertise, experience, connections, content, services.

Who needs what you have? (and, has what you need like access to your audience?)

Mutually Beneficial Hustle

Share in the comments: What’s a perceived limitation that you would like to convert into “a beautiful constraint”? (Mark and I are listening.)


  1. Mark Barden says:

    Ask me a really tough questions, please! Or tell me a fabulous story about one of your own beautiful constraints.

  2. Julia Thie says:

    Hey Mark!
    Thank you for your book! I enjoyed it.
    Have you had a relationship of mutual benefit set up where they didn’t come thru on their end? How might you rethink that on your feet? Has that happened in your experience?
    I was also relieved when I read how getting from victim mindset into transformer mindset is a process. I felt that was true. I see how I do not stay in victim very long at all the more examples I experience and the more practiced I become in recognizing the questions.
    Thanks for the great advice!

  3. Mark Barden says:

    Hi Julia – yes, I have had that experience, sadly. I’m sure many of us have. For example, some of the people I most wanted to interview for the book just didn’t come through after saying “yes,” even tho it was clear we could create great exposure for them. I’m a big student of improv, of Robert Poynton’s work in particular (we referenced Everything’s An Offer in the book and his other book “Do Improvise” is great) and the “trick” is to try to find “the offer” in the let down. What’s the offer, even in “no”? Is it a signal to redesign the alliance in a way that they want to come back to the table, to make it genuinely mutually beneficial — maybe the first attempt at this wasn’t right. Or was that person/entity the wrong one to try to forge an alliance with in the first place – which might be valuable learning to have sooner than later! The trick is not to be discouraged, I suppose, and to know when is the right time to quit and move on, versus persist to try to get it right. Rob’s work promotes an open-mindedness and willingness to “play” in the moment, whereas Janina Marguc’s work promotes “stepping back” when one appears to be just persisting without progress, so experiment with both techniques. But know that finding and creating abundance through partnerships is still a massively underexploited strategy by most people and businesses and that there is a pot of gold somewhere. Good luck.

  4. Hey Mark!

    Fabulous book! I am also a student of Improv and use many improv techniques to facilitate collaboration. Improv also helps me work with my clients from a position of empathy.

    I loved the “We Can If” tool. It’s a great visual and I can think of so many ways to use this with my growth-oriented small business clients as we strategize about how to find and retain the talented people they need. My clients often struggle with limited budgets and feel they can’t compete with the big players because they aren’t able to offer the same salary and benefits. It will help with the transformation from victim mindset to a pot of gold mindset.

    Thanks for sharing these tools.

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The key is to figure out the one thing you can do that will make the


Then, do that ONE thing first.

-Jeanine Blackwell

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