The air was crisp and cool as the vendors arranged their wares under the ubiquitous white tents that signal the presence of a farmer’s market. My wife and I were up early to put a dent in our 10,000 steps as we came upon the market. Knowing my wife’s love for a good farmer’s market, I knew the steps would have to wait.


We made our way through the market while most of the vendors finished their set up. Some were focused on setup, while a few greeted us with a smile or a “good morning.”  However, as we neared the end of one line of tents, a warm and friendly voice reached out to us. “Good morning. Here (pointing to bottles on the table) we have salsa made without tomatoes.” “Salsa without tomatoes,” my wife replied. “Yes. Instead of tomatoes, I use apples and the taste is amazing,” the man replied as he sensed our interest.


For the next few minutes Jose described how he made his salsa and encouraged us to try free samples. Which, of course, we did. “Let me tell you why I made this salsa,” Jose said with a proud smile.


I’ve been making salsa for a long time. But, about seven months ago I walked into work one morning and was let go after 11 years. It was a difficult day and I was mad at the world. But I knew I couldn’t stay mad. One day, after losing my job, my daughter was at my house lamenting that she could no longer eat salsa because it bothered her stomach. I decided to put my frustration to good use and make a salsa for her that didn’t include tomatoes. At that moment, I remembered my grandfather made salsa with Quince. I wondered if apples would work instead and began experimenting. Once I had my recipe I shared it with my daughter and she loved it. As time passed, I began selling my salsa and for the last six months it’s been my full-time job.

My wife and I bonded with Jose and his story (and his salsa). We were drawn into his enthusiasm and willingness to share. As we listened, I thought, there it is again–another example of the value of constraints and the possibilities that hide in limitations.


Two seemingly random limitations—a daughter’s wish for tomato-less salsa and the losing of a job provoked Jose to tap his own ingenuity. And from that place of ingenuity, his life has new meaning and my wife and I have a new favorite salsa.

What constraint are you currently facing that has you mad at the world? Be Jose. Forget about making lemonade out of lemons. Make salsa out of apples.

You can check out Jose’s salsa and other products HERE.