Coach and GM

about this episode

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team” - Phil Jackson

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 1:12
Good, man. How are you?

Chris Braden 1:13
I'm doing great. So we just did roleplayers we've done captain's we've established that you run Burnham law like a pro sports franchise, and there's a lot of hats that you can wear. Obviously, you're the owner. You need a coach, you need a GM. How would you define your role at Burnham Law?

Todd Burnham 1:30
I wear a number of hats and and I think the the first hat that, you know, the kind of mentality that you have to have is that I work for the people here. And then like a GM and a coach. They're working for the owner. We were talking before about Pat Bowlen. Yeah, kind of hands off, but was available for the leaders or for the coaches in the event that they needed some guidance on how to inspire people. And that's you know, so there's difference between, for the captains of the firm, you have a difference between being a leader and a boss role players like I work for them. So I want to make sure that everybody feels that they can talk to me. So being accessible, being transparent in what you're doing. And there's not this closed door, you know, meetings feel to it. We gave out surveys last month, like I want to know, yesterday, I sent an email out to everybody about a different concept that I've been thinking about in terms of some administrative stuff. And I'm like, hey, get back to me. So I had people just emailing me directly, and I spoke to a couple people, and it's people that I normally wouldn't speak to, it's like a paralegal in the springs, or something along those lines, that is not the norm. Right. And that matters, just quite frankly, also, because I think paralegals are the cornerstone of any good law firm. So I have selfish reasons as well, you know,

Chris Braden 2:47
Right, from the outside looking in, especially like from a fan perspective, with a pro sports franchise, this is the way you break down those roles. The owner is basically the checkbook. The GM is the guy that brings in the players and handles the contracts and all that stuff. And then the coach is the guy that handles everybody that the GM has brought in, we've established that you love finding talent, and you like finding talent in interesting ways you even recruited Stephanie Randall from a case you were working on, you notice that she was really good, and you decided to bring her in? Is being the GM, your favorite hat to wear?

Todd Burnham 3:31
I don't know. I mean, I don't when I think about being a GM or an owner or a coach, I think there's a missing component here that and to me, I don't know where quality control comes in. For me, it's not just what the firm can be, and the you know, striving to be excellent in all aspects. But it's also where do I see the practice itself going, like law in general, I get really get really disappointed every time I see these commercials for personal injury or these billboards and I'm like

Chris Braden 4:02
The ambulance chasers is that what you're talking about?

Todd Burnham 4:03
Yeah, it's kind of like, you know, do these people think that this is effective. And for me, it's like, I look at this, you know, I have a vision for what the practice itself should be. And I think I'm steering this firm in that direction. And a lot of it is uncharted territory. So I love that aspect of it. And the other piece I love is actually talking to potential new clients on the phone and inspiring them to see what their life is going to be and not just what it is right now. And you take all those things and you do that on a regular basis, day in and day out. And it comes just a pattern and a mindset that when I speak to people at work now and even the paralegals I spoke to yesterday, I'm trying to inspire because I believe.

Chris Braden 4:49

Todd Burnham 4:49
It's like, just see what I see. You know and and I think if you if you're passionate about that, which I am and and you care about the people that are here, which I do. That's how you build something that's that's made to last.

Chris Braden 5:03
So the coach role for an NFL franchise and a lot of people don't think about this, one of the main jobs for the coach is for him to coach the other coaches.

Todd Burnham 5:14

Chris Braden 5:15
\How do you handle that? Because you got a lot of partners, you got a lot of great attorneys. How do you coach the coaches?

Todd Burnham 5:22
You're really trying to coach up and it's it goes back to Belichick of you know, don't tell me what they can't do. Tell me what they can do, right? And so in finding weaknesses, and you have people that you're working with, that you're trying to coach up, and that they're also coaching you, right, like you're constantly learning and how to effectively lead people and knowing the things that they're strong at recognizing what things they could use improvement or get better at. And having a buy in from those people is everything because then it's collaborative, then it's like, hey, great job doing this. This is what I would do differently. In the receptive to it because they bought in their passion. They they bought into the passionate about wanting to be great. So I don't know that answer your question. I'm going off on things...

Chris Braden 6:06
No, it does answer my question. That's a good tangent. As far as you mentioned this earlier, and we've talked about it in other shows that some of the people here call you sir, and you're the owner of the of the franchise, and you want them to know that you work for them. And you're part of the team. I guess my question is, is why does that make you feel a little bit a little bit weird?

Todd Burnham 6:28
Let's back up on that. No, I don't think anyone's calling me sir. No, Karen. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Let's do this. Like See, like you see, like says, Uh, yeah, but you're the owner. Right?

Chris Braden 6:39

Todd Burnham 6:39
No, sir. No one calls me sir.

Chris Braden 6:42
No one calls you sir?

Todd Burnham 6:43
No. Calls me sir. No, man. No. All right. Hey, keep that going?

Chris Braden 6:48
Yeah. Yeah.

Todd Burnham 6:51
No, man, I don't have I don't have people calling me sir. I don't dress up in a suit every day. Where a tie... expect everybody I want people to be at their best look appropriate and be comfortable. Sure. So with Karen, it's funny, you say that you find people in different places she was at. She was running a cafe for like 23 years at a gym. And I met her. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, like, she's great. She's authentic. She's like, cares. Like, she's like, has that kind of spirit.

Chris Braden 7:24

Todd Burnham 7:24
Now. Like, I gotta get over here. Like, okay, well, here's a computer. She's like, No, she does now. But it's her gift is being on the phone with people.

Chris Braden 7:36

Todd Burnham 7:36
And I think in the culture that she left, perhaps the owner probably wasn't as I would think approachable or didn't realize that we're all part of a team. And so I don't want anyone treating me differently. I just want everyone to respect me as I respect them.

Chris Braden 7:53
So why do you think you're open? Because I think I've seen a lot of great managers or leaders, like my dad would do it all the time. When I was a kid, if he went in somewhere, and he really liked the service he got or he just got a great vibe off of somebody, you'd basically offer him a job. He'd be like, hey, come see us. Why do you think you're open to recognizing?

Todd Burnham 8:14
I don't know, I don't have an answer for that. I don't know why I think that I'm, I've probably mellowed and the things that I'm looking for now. They're more of a feel, and my gut instincts and intuition rather than does this person check these boxes would be neat. Kind of like a draft. You know, you're picking in the first round, you need a left tackle. But you need playmakers always.

Chris Braden 8:37

Todd Burnham 8:37
So I look at that. And I'm saying to myself, when I looked at Karen, and I'm like, She's special. Ed making people feel very comfortable. Isn't that exactly who you want to speak to when you're calling a law firm and you want to make sure that you're heard, but also you're you're nervous? Talking to law firm, right? I don't know why I just very grateful that that's happened. It's been organic.

Chris Braden 9:01
So we talked about poaching the coaches and the GM hat. One of the hard parts about a GM is they have to cut players they have to at the end of training camp, they have cut players that have to make tough decisions in contracts and things like that. Tell me one of the times where you had to make a really tough decision.

Todd Burnham 9:21
Well, in terms of personnel?

Chris Braden 9:25
Just like a tough decision where you kind of agonized over it a little bit. And you decided all right, this is what's best for the team. So I'm just gonna do it.

Todd Burnham 9:33
It was my first person who worked with me in Erie, okay, a wonderful person. She was incredible to people on the phones genuinely cared, was inspiring and how she was just grinding it out, starting your own side business with her with her family. And this was a job to her that she needed. And as we got busier and busier, the mistakes would happen. It was just like it was probably my fault mostly because I wasn't giving, I wasn't pulling Belichick, right? You know, someone like that always has a place in an organization. It's just if you have good people like that, that legitimately care, that was probably my worst one because there was so many mistakes that happened over and over again and dealing with organization or scheduling or whatnot. And she was amazing to people on the phones. I had her doing too much, in hindsight, and that was probably my hardest one is letting someone go and the way that you do it is you just direct and honest, it's Billy Beane in Moneyball, you know, Brad Pitt, he just, these are human beings that have lives. They don't want to hear that you I'm really sorry. No, you're not otherwise, you wouldn't be letting me go. Right? This isn't working out, I got to make a change. And I'm sorry.

Chris Braden 10:45
So now that you've reflected back, I think you already said it, I think, would you have found a different role for her nowadays? How would you have handled that

Todd Burnham 10:54
would have kept her where her strengths were, which was being genuine and authentic, and greeting people and speaking to people on the phones that they, you know, initially call mistakes like this, I've made hundreds of them, hiring people just because they're really talented, but they have just a really bad attitude, you know, and keeping them longer than they should have been here. I brought people on too late, when I could have could have worked better, and could have made this more the culture shift would have happened, you know, much sooner. All these things, it just take, you know, just learn from experience. And that's why I'm not like, there's not much that you can't do. If you get your mind right about it. And you have to start with making sure that you're strong leader and knowing that you have a number of weaknesses, and I didn't realize mine at the time.

Chris Braden 11:43
The last thing I really want to ask on this is as a coach, and even a GM, you've got to kind of figure out your role with every player, every coach that you have in your organization. Yeah, think about that. Every player, every single player, how do you recognize like, how long does it take you to realize what role you need to take with each person that you bring on board?

Todd Burnham 12:06
Oh, man, I mean, isn't that like the million dollar question, Jeff? I mean, it's like people that you bring on board, but also being available and being a certain person, for the person that's in Colorado Springs.

Chris Braden 12:19

Todd Burnham 12:20
So you have great leadership in different offices, you bring someone on that shares the traits with all the people that you've established your culture with. If you bring in the wrong person, you bring in someone that has 20 years of experience and isn't open to change, and they come in and say, well, we don't do it that way. Like, hold on, slow your roll, like we do here. I should have asked that question before.

Chris Braden 12:42

Todd Burnham 12:43
You know, so it's a lot of it is based on the significant learning experiences that I've had, and all of them were related to failure.

Chris Braden 12:53
Good stuff Todd, sir. I just called you sir. No one ever calls you sir. There you go

Todd Burnham 12:57
I appreciate it. Thank you. Hey, thanks for listening. Make sure you subscribe, and until next time, keep getting better.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai