Become an Expert

about this episode

"Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better." -Pat Riley

episode transcribed

Todd Burnham 0:00
Hi, this is Todd Burnham. I am a licensed practicing attorney. But just because you're listening to me doesn't mean that I represent you. This is for informational purposes only if you're good with that, then let's roll.

Chris Braden 0:23
What do you do when you move to a new state during a recession with no contacts, no job, no money, little experience, and a family to support? You lean on what you know you continue to learn, grind every day, and you keep getting better. Join Todd Burnham as he outlines how he started Burnham law in his basement and grew to seven offices relying only on his experiences and inspirations from being a college athlete. His unique style of motivation and raw sense of humor are a welcome change from the business advice you're used to hearing. Whether you're a new or seasoned attorney, trying to grow your practice or an entrepreneur in any service industry, Todd's story is sure to inspire you to take action and follow your instincts. This is Deep Bench with Todd Burnham. Hey, Todd, how's it going, buddy?

Todd Burnham 1:11
Chris, what is up my man?

Chris Braden 1:13
So we've got some rave reviews of the first few shows.

Todd Burnham 1:16
Oh, did my mom get in touch with you?

Chris Braden 1:18
She did. So did my mom. I appreciate you know, so today we're talking about being an expert. And we're also talking about competition. So when I think about attorneys, they get out of law school, you pass the bar, so you're kind of an expert.

Todd Burnham 1:32
Nah you're no expert, you're someone that just can pass the bar. Most of the paralegals at Burnham live think if they studied in a study for three months, they could pass the bar to what we're talking about really is building a business. So it's not just starting one, but you want to grow it. And that's always been my kind of my jam is I want to build things I want to create. And so if you're you're starting with one common focus that you are the person that is going to lead people that you don't have yet and you want to attract people, and you want to be competent at what you're doing. So for me in what worked and looking in hindsight a little bit is you've got to be an expert in what you're talking about period, you have to know. So for instance, family law, I locked myself in a room in the beginning as I was doing other work. And because I knew it was family law, for me that was going to start it and I had the background, my mother's social worker and all that I busted my ass to learn as much as I could, in the still those same vein as ready fire aim. So you still have to go to court. And so if you can focus on that and have that drive and for me, it's competition in a competitive nature. That is me, that helps a lot. It because if you're not an expert, you're not going to be able to attract anyone, because people that come in are going to say, Why am I following this guy? This guy's a joker doesn't know what he's doing. He's not committed not he hasn't burned the ships. Right? So we started with when we were talking about how we start this. So when we're starting in, we're talking about a playbook, if you will, on how to build a business based on principles that I learned from athletics, and quite frankly, that the NFL, following the Broncos following the Redskins, the Giants, you're starting with, you know, what we talked about was the origin of where I came from what made me me, which really brought out my competitive nature. Second is you got to connect to who you are, what is that thing and that for me was competition. And it's only now that I realize it, it wasn't like I'm competitive. I'm going to connect to this. It's not like that at all. After that. It's find your inspiration. What's the thing that's gonna keep you motivated when you don't want to do what you do? And then it's burn the ships. You're all in. Okay, so you're all in you burn the ships. Now what become an expert in your field. If you're not an expert in your field, become one keep grinding, keep working hard, bust your ass, read more. It's not about you're not going to self help things.

Chris Braden 4:02
We can though.

Todd Burnham 4:02
We're not going to go to Robbins for 10 grand in Florida. We can but but you are already inspired. In the previous time. Tony Robbins has come and gone you are inspired.

Chris Braden 4:14
We've walked on the coals.

Todd Burnham 4:15
We've walked on the coals we've committed all in we are going to now become an expert. And that's it. And a podcast. Congratulations. You've got to do the things that if in law, we're talking about law, for me is sports is a metaphor for life. So Patrick mahomes won the MVP Super Bowl last night. Is he an expert at throwing the football? Was he always an expert at throwing the football now granted before you answer, some people are naturally gifted athletically. Yeah, for sure. Was Tony Robbins. Always inspirational.

Chris Braden 4:47
Oh no.

Todd Burnham 4:47
Tony worked at it. He became an expert at it.

Chris Braden 4:51
He was living in his car, bro.

Todd Burnham 4:52
Right. Exactly. He burned the ships. He went all in.

Chris Braden 4:56
Yeah, he did.

Todd Burnham 4:57
He did.

Chris Braden 4:58
Which sounded crazy, if you hear the story.

Todd Burnham 5:01
I'm doing a podcast. Yeah, this is crazy. So you're you're doing these things and you're going all in and you're trying to become a voice that people will listen to, because you are an expert in your field.

Chris Braden 5:15
Right? You talk about Patrick mahomes. And we talked about it doesn't just have to be athletics, there are people in every field that have an aptitude for it. That doesn't mean they're gonna be successful. Like there's an NBA player named Javale. McGee, he probably has, he was born with all of it. Now, the work ethic might be an issue.

Todd Burnham 5:34
Yeah. And so what you're talking about that commitment being all in, and I tell my girls this all the time with lacrosse, if if you don't work hard, and if you don't develop a work ethic, then the natural abilities that you have, are going to go away, because you're not practicing. You're not honoring them. You're not appreciating them, you're not respecting them. And so if you don't read in that Steve Prefontaine, to give anything less than your absolute best, is to sacrifice the gift. To me. That's what like, I get goosebumps when I talk about this stuff. So this is me talking. And it's after I've honed to this over and over again. And it's after you and I have done podcasts that we don't because they sucked. So I'm listening to him. And he can tell everybody what it's like working with me

Chris Braden 6:24
You like attention to detail. And that's what I like about you. Because I've learned from you because you and I are a lot of like, I even told you this, I go ah. Now I know what it's like to have me as a client, I one thing that I think is important to talk about, I have this theory on being an expert and being a specialist, because there's a lot of people that do a lot of things great. But the people that are literally great are great at one thing and everything else spawns off of that, for example, if you were like a general attorney, and you're like, oh, yeah, that guy does some patents, and he does some family law. And you know, he'll do a little criminal law if you have a DUI and that person might be amazing at what they do. But if you're looking for the best family law attorney, that's not the guy you're going to.

Todd Burnham 7:09
Jack of all trades, master of none. Same concept. And some people are going to have are going to have a general practice, some people are going to be general practice doctors, if I have an ear problem, I'm not going to my GP, I'm going to an ear, nose and throat doctor, he wants someone specialized is going to that knows this area. So and that's what I thought of. And it's interesting, because we'll talk about it later. But when you're building a team, you don't want everyone to have the same traits as you because Todd's already got that Stephanie has this Stephanie does Child and Family investigations. Jessica Lasky in our firm does domestic violence like she she was working with she trained Boulder County DHS and or the investigators to to spot domestic violence and see those those traits in those signs. So when you're building a team, you want you don't want generalized people, you want people that are maybe passionate about certain things, and you want people that are that have that attention to detail and the specificity and knowing that, oh, in a common law marriage, the case law is people V loose arrow. And so if I'm thinking common law marriage, I think Jen and I did several of these together, Jennifer Scott. So when you have a team you have everybody has a piece of it. And so when you're building a team, you have that person in the firm, that you can say, I'm going to ask that person this question rather than having to go to a different firm to hire a different attorney. And that's what I was trying to do. I just kept looking at this, like, we've got to build this. But in the beginning, it was they had to want to come and join me, you know, this is Jerry Maguire, who's coming with me. And in the beginning, it was just the fish. Because the fish can't talk. I think that that's critical. And this is where you should stop if you are trying to market and you're going against and again competing. If you're trying to compete in the marketplace, become an expert, or make sure that this is where people can partner, you can merge firms, you can merge solo practices and say that dude does criminal defense, this woman does personal injury, this one does that. And then at the same time, you have you've then you automatically build a team, boom, a bunch of experts awesome. And you're going to have to grow it three times as much to get the feeling and the autonomy and the financial reward of getting to that level that you want to get to because you're splitting it with your three. And so for me, it's the importance of being an expert is is where you stop full stop, do not pass, go take your time, make sure that you feel confident enough that you're willing to put yourself out there and market but also remember you're not Don't be so afraid that you're not an expert. If you have passion for something and you know it and you know the law, you're just going to be honing it in practice. You got to get out there and do it.

Chris Braden 9:48
So do you think if you don't commit to an expertise or don't pick your expertise, the market will pick that for you?

Todd Burnham 9:55
Well, I guess it's it's one of these things for me that you're the rep mutation will be picked for you that you're a general practice person. And you're not an expert. I don't necessarily think that just being an expert is everything but and this is also where it goes to having a vision for what you think you want to build. But don't put it in a business plan where it pigeonholes you into one goal. This is this is an evolving thing that has to be based on a foundation of trust, and a foundation of knowledge. Everything else that comes from that is, is unknown.

Chris Braden 10:28
Well, and I think every expert has a cornerstone that they they lean on, like Warren Buffett, you know, we think about him as like being the most brilliant investor of all time, but there's a lot of stuff that goes with it, whether it's tax law, I mean, he knows a lot of things, but we think of him as the investment guy.

Todd Burnham 10:45
I think of and you're right. And so kind of like the analogy I gave with you bringing other people in, I know family law, that's, that's my thing. But I also know talent, I've honed that. And when I find someone that is exceptional at what they do, they have the passion for doing it. And the drive to be the best. That's a person you bring in and you give some autonomy to it's like a de facto partnership. And that's what I saw with personal injury I've been through a number of people have always wanted to get into personal injury, it's plaintiffs work is some of the most rewarding work because there's people that are legitimately injured, you have insurance companies that I don't know, inherently suck, and you want people that aren't going to just take the money and run I wanted someone that's going to fight people tooth and nail digging, clawing for the extra 10,000 bucks that is required to make that person feel better about the situation. And so many personal injury attorneys and these law firms, big firms, they have quotas, they have numbers they have to hit they have huge overhead. That's the ultimate aim big Miss big Aim small miss small. So when I see when I saw that, and I finally found that person, I went through the list, I found inspiration I committed all in and and to me, Randall Goss is someone that exemplifies the Stephanie and if you can find people like that, and I have now it's a lot of Stephanies a lot of Randalls because I didn't settle I didn't say this good enough, and I didn't make friends along the way. And that's life. I'm here to do good work. I'm here to provide for my family and I'm here to provide an outlet for people to help their lives and hopefully make them better and how we represent them.

Chris Braden 12:26
Good stuff Todd.

Todd Burnham 12:27
Right on man. Hey, thanks for listening. Make sure you subscribe, and until next time, keep getting better.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai