Build a Team

about this episode

“Surround yourself with good people. People who are going to be honest with you and look out for your best interests.” -

Derek Jeter

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 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 1:13
Good, man. Let's do this.

Chris Braden 1:14
All right. So we've done a lot of stuff. We burn the ships. We're all in. We're an expert. We started our marketing. Okay, the phone is like ringing off the hooks. Now we have a team, right?

Todd Burnham 1:26
Yeah, but it's not ringing off the hook. You're also honing while you're doing this. So your marketing has to be tight. And what you do in the beginning is you want to have all these keywords and phrases that are going to attract you to your your website. And what happens is, is you have a budget, and it gets blown because it's too general. So the phone is ringing off

Chris Braden 1:47
Because you spend $300 a click.

Todd Burnham 1:49
With nobody that is going to hire you.

Chris Braden 1:51

Todd Burnham 1:52
Everyone's kicking tires. And you learn, oh, my gosh, I spent all this money. The money that I made from last week, I just dumped it back into this week, because I'm building. And you're constantly learning, don't get discouraged. You're just honing your your craft. And your craft is not just the practice or the business that you're running. It's also your honing the craft of your marketing skills. And knowing what is good value, what is bad value, what is what is marketable, what's not marketable, you're learning. There's nobody that's going to teach you these things. You can read the books, people are going to try to sell you on everything. Study yourself, study the trends, look at demographics in your area, look at the cost per click, and where is that? The blue ocean? Where's the blue ocean, that's not shark infested and red waters, right? Where's that blue ocean that's different. And that's where you have that this specificity, that expert, you can hone something a certain way. And you'll see, watch what comes in something is attracting people and you'll see patterns. So assuming that that happens, and you get past the part where you're spending all this money on marketing, and nothing's coming in, the phone is ringing. People are actually wanting to hire you because you are an expert in your marketing well, and you're marketing the truth, then you have to build a team. For me for law, the first person was person answering the phone.

Chris Braden 3:16

Todd Burnham 3:17
That's critical. Basics. And beginning beginning, it's you answering the phone because you're using your cell phone, and this is your number and you're just like, I'm losing my mind. But you get somebody in, and I had someone right in the beginning, that was just a good person. That's what you're looking for. You're looking for someone that's going to be the person that you see on a daily basis, you're probably gonna spend more time with this person than your family.

Chris Braden 3:38
And that needs to be your advocate.

Todd Burnham 3:40
Yeah, absolutely. And so you're growing with this person, too. So you're hiring someone that's going to answer phones. That's my advice. I don't think that answering services are where it's at. I think people want immediate responses, immediate sense of urgency for their case. It's not. Can you spell the last name, please. And what's this about? What firm are you calling again. Look I've been there, too. You don't want that. It's just waste of money. Then at that point, you're going to be looking at it. If you're in a law firm, and it's different for every business. You're looking for the best paralegal you can find. You're not hiring lawyers, yet. You're finding a paralegal because you need to do more. You're not working on your business so much yet. You're building it. And it always starts with a foundation. Once you get the paralegal, you'll go through two or three of those because you'll hire someone that doesn't have the work ethic or someone that thinks they can do it better or someone that's not going to follow the rules and say, well, that's how it's always done. No. What's your vision, follow it and if it doesn't work, move on. And we'll talk about that later.

Chris Braden 4:42
So, hiring a person answer the phone, how much time did you take training that person?

Todd Burnham 4:47
Zero. Are you asking me what I should have done or what I did?

Chris Braden 4:51
Well, you said zero. I said zero I say like a short training process a day.

Todd Burnham 4:57
Yeah, not even that. I mean, it you you want someone that's going To be professional, and that can multitask. Because hopefully the phone is ringing, you have one line, but you have two lines, but one actual number, you want that person to be able to say, Can you please hold in a nice way that still gives a sense of urgency that that person's case matters. But you also don't want to lose another person calling because if you miss a phone call, you missed an opportunity. And you just blew the money that you spent on marketing, because really, no one's referring you cases right now. It's all marketing. No one knows you, you have a you just get your website up.

Chris Braden 5:29
Well, and a lot of bad reviews come from that.

Todd Burnham 5:31
Totally communication. It's critical. Think about it, marriage, communication, business, communication, communication is critical. After that, you're you're finding a way to attract quality lawyers. In the beginning, it's just one. And for me, I was really fortunate, I found someone that pushed me and she has her own practice now. And she's an exceptional lawyer, after that was another young lawyer, and I got lucky. And he's doing his own thing now as well. And we grew. And as you grow, you see that people might be aligned with what you're doing or not aligned. And so you respect the growth. And you got to remember, you're an expert in the practice that you're following, and that you're doing but you're not an expert in human nature, and how to be a boss, how to be a leader that comes over time. So you're finding someone that works hard, doesn't quit, isn't a procrastinator and is willing to give you that extra 5% to keep getting better also. If you can find that person, you build around that person, and eventually, you'll be attracting the Stephanies. Right, the Randalls the Jennifer Scott's JP prints, you know you have in those are like people that I admire, that inspire me for their passion of what they do. I'm the megaphone talking about them, because I'm so inspired, and I admire them. And if you can find those people that are willing to grow with you and build with you, now you've got lightning in a bottle, and it takes time, it takes time. And with a little luck, luck comes in here. But again, the more you work, the luckier you tend to be, you're not going to get lucky sitting on your ass, you're going to get lucky, looking at 50 websites that you like in trying to pull out the pieces that call to you. We are inherently given the answers in ourselves and our souls in our minds and our bodies and our hearts. And tapping into that is the key and I'm trying to do is give people a little, a little playbook that's going to get you there. But it's really the personal experience that's going to make you believe.

Chris Braden 7:38
So when you're looking for an attorney, I think hiring a paralegal would be you said it was important, but finding that person because they're kind of talking for you. Well, they

Todd Burnham 7:47
Everything is a reflection on you. This is your business. In Burnham Law, it's my last name, and we have 50 plus people that that are reflections of that. That's so it is and also it's my last name. And so I have to respect it. Also, it's not just me anymore. So when you when you're building a team, you're attracting talent, you're looking for a young person, a young person in terms of experience-wise, not necessarily young person. I mean, ideally, if you have a new person that has really good work ethic, that's new to the law that's ideal and has a passion for what that practice areas, you want someone that's going to work hard, and that won't quit and eventually you'll find your stiff knee, someone who you know, cares about the team and about the business as much as you do. And Burnham Law is fortunate to have a number of Stephanies

Chris Braden 8:35
I think, too, there's a lot of people that have a passion for what they do. Like whether it's a family law attorney or criminal attorney, they want to do that they don't necessarily want to focus on the business. And that's where you come in, and you take over that part.

Todd Burnham 8:48
And because I'm a competitor, that's it. And I think that people could do a lot worse than finding out your strengths right away. There is a basically a test called the top five Clifton Strengths and it kind of gives you your five core values that drive you as a leader and I think that that's probably a good place to be also the more you know about yourself, the better you're going to be. If someone is challenging, you know your authority and like your knowledge on something if you are a competitive person like I am, then I'll be I'm going to compete I'm going to say no like let's debate.

Chris Braden 9:25
I think for me when you're recruiting you know, we've talked about it The NFL has a draft and with that comes the Combine you got free agency that's when you're looking for your veterans and college it's recruiting.

Todd Burnham 9:36

Chris Braden 9:36
A lot of those coach different coaches have kind of a criteria they're looking for and there's actually things that were coaches won't take a great player just because of something is that is a non starter for that search. What's that for you?

Todd Burnham 9:51
Work ethic.

Chris Braden 9:51

Todd Burnham 9:52
That's it!

Chris Braden 9:52
And how do you find that out before you hire them?

Todd Burnham 9:54
You don't that's hard. And there it is. And so you have hits and misses. And as you get better at running your business and managing people, and owning mistakes and growing your business, you'll get better at spotting bullshit.

Chris Braden 10:13

Todd Burnham 10:13
You'll get better at spotting people that are trying to tell you what you want to hear rather than what their truth is. And your first loss is your best loss. Remember that. First loss is your best loss. So it's really important that if you know, at your core and its gut, that this person doesn't share the values of work ethic or wanting to get better every day, or just different personality traits, or if they have personal demons that they're facing, all those things come up. And so I inherently want to help people that's kind of in my core, I identify with people that have struggled that are uber-focused on learning from that.I love those people.

Chris Braden 11:01
Sometimes those are the most passionate people.

Todd Burnham 11:03
They are tell me someone that's failed and is still here, and I'll call them today and offer him a job like does, that's what I want. But they also have to have core intelligence and knowledge and all that.

Chris Braden 11:14
The basics.

Todd Burnham 11:15
If you're able to spot that it's not working is again, your first loss is your best loss. But you don't let it drag out. Because now you have to worry about morale. As you get bigger. You have to worry about preferential treatment as you get larger in your firm. And you have to have core principles and values and ours are, we want you to work hard, not give up. Try to keep getting better. And if you do that, it doesn't matter where you finished in law school, it doesn't matter any of that stuff. That's passion. If you can do that, we have a goldmine.

Chris Braden 11:46
So what's the mechanism you use? The for finding these people isn't like, word of mouth, like how did we start finding the new attorneys or the paralegals and stuff?

Todd Burnham 11:54

Chris Braden 11:55

Todd Burnham 11:56
Yeah, Craigslist. Even for paralegals. I was putting things out on Craigslist, and I was being passionate about how I did it. And how I put it out there. I'm looking for someone that is x. And I spent hours on these on the ad. Yeah.

Chris Braden 12:11
And before you had to pay for him, right?

Todd Burnham 12:12


Chris Braden 12:13
Cause you have to pay for them now.

Todd Burnham 12:14
You do. And I still use, I still use, I still use Craigslist will use indeed, and all these other places. But the thing that I also look for now is LinkedIn, we've got two, high quality lawyers starting really soon, both from out of state, both I think are like Super Lawyers, and they're attracted to what we have, and what we've established. And as you grow, your reputation increases, because you're getting better at keeping people too. It's one thing to get talented people in quality people I mean, just ask Stephanie, she quit, she left for three months. And it was the right move, because I wasn't ready for her.

Chris Braden 12:54

Todd Burnham 12:56
And that's just takes a lot like I had to change, enter again, therapy, you're placing all of this pressure on me, you know, I'm doing it to myself. And I want to grow this and it to be an important law firm that everyone's families can get behind and, and support and we build something together. You can't have that if you're running an operation like a dictator. And that's fear.

Chris Braden 13:22

Todd Burnham 13:22
It's just straight up fear, false evidence appearing real. But it's really real for me, when we miss deadlines, not Stephanie. But if people are missing deadlines, then that's a non starter, you've got to go if you don't see that, that's very important. A critical piece of being a lawyer is to not miss deadlines. If someone misses a deadline, and they're like, Ah, it's not a big deal. Gone. If you don't share that quality. And that is a lonely place to be when everyone in your firm believes that you are an absolute asshole dictator who's not inspiring, but is actually making people feel like they're walking on eggshells. That's a terrible place to be. And many of the people that have come through Burnham Law have absolutely felt that way. And I like to think that I've grown from that. But in in those moments, when you're so afraid, and you're trying to get people to do it the right way. And they don't. You have to be able to inspire people to want to be better, not inspire them not to make mistakes. I don't mind mistakes, mistakes happen if you're working hard. But if it's mental, and if you're like, I just missed it. It's not a big deal, Todd.

Chris Braden 14:34
That's nuts and bolts, though showing up being on time making deadline for a business owner, I can see where that's just like don't have to tell you this.

Todd Burnham 14:42
In law. It impacts people who paid us to do things at a high level. And if you don't share that common denominator and that common value, then this is the wrong place for you. And many people think they can do things better than you many people that you hire We'll certainly tell you and I welcome that. You want input, you want to get better, but you don't want to be hearing about that and have a cancerous undertow, this feeling that the firm or the business is getting away from you, right? This is this is your ass on the line, everyone else at this point can find other employment. So if you're building something, you want those people that will share your values, but you also have to know what your values are. If you're hiring an alpha person to come in, and you are someone that is passive aggressive, you're gonna fail, you know, like, that's a fox in the hen house. No. And so, in those moments, then you can find someone that's an alpha, if that's what you need in the business, or if you need someone with those traits, but someone that that find that alpha that also has values of family and building something together, because that is a Stephanie.

Chris Braden 15:57

Todd Burnham 15:57
Or that is a Randall or JP or Jen or Aaron, all these people that are, you're building it with, they have to believe Remember, a couple episodes ago, I was saying no Stephanie's, you know, she believes, she didn't believe.

Chris Braden 16:09

Todd Burnham 16:10
She took off. And it was devastating. And it made me look at myself. And it was around 2014-2015. That was Kobe. That's the stuff that comes up. And for her to come back. And to still be here really is one of the things I'm probably most proud of.

Chris Braden 16:28
That means you made a great hire.

Todd Burnham 16:30
Yeah, it was a great hire initially. And it was probably a poor acceptance of the offer by her. And she learned from it, I'm sure but you're building talent, you're building your team. And so you'll you'll have a playbook. And you'll have plays. The plays are going to be marketing with Avvo marketing with fine law marketing with Google My Business, you're going to be doing all those things, but if the players aren't executing the plays, right, and if they're not able to execute them, then you have a team that is weak.

Chris Braden 17:03
And it's like Jimmy G throwing pics last night.

Todd Burnham 17:07
No bueno.

Chris Braden 17:09
Not Kyle's fault.

Todd Burnham 17:09

Chris Braden 17:11
Hey man good stuff, Todd. Lucky for you. We're gonna have Stephanie Randall on and she tell her side of the story. She's gonna be the next episode.

Todd Burnham 17:21
I can only imagine. Good luck.

Chris Braden 17:22
Good stuff, Todd.

Todd Burnham 17:23
Catch you later. Hey, thanks for listening. Make sure you subscribe and until next time, keep getting better.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai