Don’t Partner

about this episode

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan

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 0:20
Season One was about how Todd Burnham started Burnham Law in his basement and built it to one of the most prestigious law firms in Colorado by thinking outside of the box and surrounding himself with the best lawyers and staff in the industry. Now during a pandemic Burnham Law is still growing. How you ask? Walk toward the storm and face it head on and you empower the people that help get you there. It's time to execute. It's time to make some lemonade. It's time to burn the ships. This is Deep Bench with Todd Burnham. Hey, Todd, how you doing buddy?

Todd Burnham 0:57
What's up, Chris?

Chris Braden 0:58
So it was funny. I interviewed a few of the staff. Yeah, Donna Bystricky. Yep. And Jess Lasky. Dude, she's a baller.

Todd Burnham 1:08
She smoked it. Yeah.

Chris Braden 1:11
And I honestly, when I was interviewing Donna, I introduced the show, like, I would introduce my sports talk show. And I was like, it just hit me. I was like, Man, that's the first time I ever introduced myself on this show.

Todd Burnham 1:14
I heard that. Yeah.

Chris Braden 1:23
And so did you mind?

Todd Burnham 1:27
No, no. I'm proud of this like, and I and I, I think you would know by now that if I didn't like you, and if I didn't think you were really good at what you do. Then there'll be somebody else sitting there. Right?

Chris Braden 1:42
Yeah, no. So I agree with that.

Todd Burnham 1:43
So like, I I want you to grow. I want you to. Of course I do.

Chris Braden 1:48
Like no, that's cool, man.

Todd Burnham 1:49
This is Chris Braden, everybody. We are working with Chris Braden.

Chris Braden 1:53
Yes. Lucky me.

Todd Burnham 1:54

Chris Braden 1:55
So we've had a lot of the attorneys on we've had the young Kristin Weaver we've had, we've had people, partners and stuff like that, when you listen to those back. And I know that's not what we're going to talk about today. But when you listen to those back, how proud of you of this company, when you just hear the level of attorney, staff member that you have here at Burnham Law? I think it's awesome.

Todd Burnham 2:22
Yeah, it's pretty cool. Um, it's interesting when Sarah Doroff will listen to these with me before we post them sometimes. Right? She's like, I don't know if we should talk about Kristin Weaver mentions old Todd.

Chris Braden 2:35

Todd Burnham 2:36
And she's like, I don't know. Should we keep that on? I'm like, of course, keep it all. Because that's, that's real.

Chris Braden 2:42

Todd Burnham 2:43
And that's really where it was. And so, you know, we're going to talk about today, partnering with people. And my one true partner that I've only really ever had, is my wife.

Chris Braden 2:57

Todd Burnham 2:58
And I think she's going to sit down for this today.

Chris Braden 3:01
Oh, that'd be cool.

Todd Burnham 3:02
Yeah, well, I get to block out whatever. No, I'm just kidding.

Chris Braden 3:07
No, you're gonna do what she said.

Todd Burnham 3:08
Yeah, totally. So I listened to it, and especially just Lasky, listening to her, and of course, listening to Donna, who, I don't know if you get this, but Don is looking for balance in her life. It's a bit like five times.

Chris Braden 3:20

Todd Burnham 3:21
It's funny. But those kind of grinders, I love that. And it's really cool to really like, look back and remember how much I sucked as a leader.

Chris Braden 3:33

Todd Burnham 3:33
Really, like, this was just a process of me trying to find my way through this and find my own authentic voice. And to hear people say that, you know, they're inspired or, you know, ripping on me for whatever I think it's, it's just really cool. extremely humbling. And funny, you know.

Chris Braden 3:56
So today we were going to talk about partners, you come back from the East Coast, you start this here in Colorado, it was only you it was all you. And I would say that it gave you the opportunity to fail. Was there an opportunity? Or did people want to partner with you?

Todd Burnham 4:14
Yeah, a lot of people did. And I want it and I was open to it. And it was straight up fear. Right?

Chris Braden 4:20
I get that.

Todd Burnham 4:21
I'm in a basement I've got it's just my wife and I and my two step sons, and I'm like, shit, I've got a, I gotta do this.

Chris Braden 4:31
I gotta make money.

Todd Burnham 4:32
I've got to make money. And so I get on cases with other people. And it was really interesting how many people wanted to partner with me. And I don't think it you know, there's nothing special about me, it was just that, oh, two people are better than one. And so people be like, Hey, let's let's consider partnering and, and looking back, there was only one person that I think that was smart to consider. But there were probably About eight people who approached me. And I would always go back and, and I, a lot of, especially in the beginning, you know, you say like I did it on my own, I really didn't. It was really Katy and I, and you know, she got a she got a card the other day for her, her employment, she works for the firm. And she got a card from like several of the partners and he said, we send out monthly cards to people at anniversaries and stuff like that. And they wrote in there, I think it was Stephanie, it might have been Danielle, just that. They acknowledge the sacrifice. And I look at that, and I was really happy that they wrote that to her, because she and I are just grinding. So much different like now. But back then it was I wasn't around. And even though I wanted to be around, she was just keeping everything together. So when I think of partnership, I think of marriage.

Chris Braden 5:58

Todd Burnham 5:58
And the only person that really comes to my mind. Other than Katy is Stephanie, completely aligned, completely aligned.

Chris Braden 6:08

Todd Burnham 6:08
That is a true partnership, strengths, weaknesses that that match.

Chris Braden 6:15
Make each other stronger at that point.

Todd Burnham 6:16
Make each other stronger and you know, you punch your own weight there, you know. And so when I think of partnership, in the beginning, it's really easy to want to say, Let's lighten the load.

Chris Braden 6:30

Todd Burnham 6:31
Let's just be a little safer. And in the end, what's the deal with? There's no point to partner with anyone in the beginning. And I'll tell you why. Because I was filling out forms the other day, we're buying up the springs office location, we closed in a couple weeks. And I was filling out the forms like how, what's your percentage of ownership? And I'm like 100%. And I was looked over Katy. And I'm like, Thank God, it's 100%. You know? And she's like why it's like, well, think of it this way. If I partnered with any of those people, or if I even partnered my current partners now, I would have had to ask for their approval before I went with anything that was instinctual to me.

Chris Braden 7:19

Todd Burnham 7:19
And if they didn't have those same instincts, or in the beginning, I didn't have a track record of anything. I'm just some dude trying to like make moves in the benefit. And what Gary Vee always says this too, like, Is Gary Vee, right? Is that what your guy is? I saw him the other day, he's like, the best thing you can do is the most important thing is make mistakes. Yes, you want to make mistakes, because that's how you learn. So if you if you went off on your own, and you're making mistakes, but you're learning, and you don't have to have anybody else with you, that's like saying, Well, I think that's a bad idea. Well, no shit. It's a bad idea. But I think it's gonna result in x, y, and z.

Chris Braden 8:05
Could be a Yahtzee.

Todd Burnham 8:06
It could be man. I mean, that's the thing. And so as long as you're able to recognize that book that's not working move quickly. Yeah, right, then then those mistakes are critical to growth, critical to growth, Sarah Doroff and I a lot of the stuff that we we don't even like, we don't have to talk things through as much anymore.

Chris Braden 8:28

Todd Burnham 8:28
We're just kind of like, Hey, you like this? Now? You like this? And maybe what do you think? Now? Okay, because it's just not, we don't need to write in the beginning. You're just overanalyzing everything. Yes. And you're like, Oh, my God, I've got it. What about this? And what about that? And, and if I had to run it by anybody, other than my wife, I would have lost my mind. I mean, I'm, like, we were talking about the podcasts and, like, imagine decisions that are made by groups. Half the people, you ever go to a Boulder City Council meeting? I mean, everybody just wants to hear themselves speak.

Chris Braden 9:07
And no one wants to make a decision.

Todd Burnham 9:09
Make a damn decision, man. Pull, like pull the trigger, make a move, right? Do your research, make a move and move on? And so I think partnerships in the beginning, if you both if people don't know what they don't know, it's a complete waste of time. And you're holding yourself back from years of growth. At the same time, if you are someone that is not like this minded minded, like, the way I'm talking, then you want to partner with people that are going to bring that element.

Chris Braden 9:44

Todd Burnham 9:44
And so like I see these, these law firms, they they have partner track at the end of the day as an equity owner, an ownership interests. That shit isn't free. No, you have to come to the table with money to buy in.

Chris Braden 10:05

Todd Burnham 10:05
My partners don't have that. They don't have to buy in. It's just another 20 years of buying it.

Chris Braden 10:13

Todd Burnham 10:14

Chris Braden 10:14
They've already bought into what you got set.

Todd Burnham 10:16
That's right. So they get they get pieces of it over and above X forever.

Chris Braden 10:22
Sure, right.

Todd Burnham 10:24
I can't imagine having to come in with money to then have a bunch of people and talk about decisions. I want to know who's really good at this. Alright dude, you do that. Right? No, all right, I'm gonna be the guy that's gonna be like thinking about the future and planning. And these are the things I want us to do to make moves in this market. I don't want to be like, does anyone agree with me or disagree? Like, I don't care? Like,

Chris Braden 10:54
Let's vote on that.

Todd Burnham 10:55
You are not voting, right? No, that's not my thing. I don't want another me. But I have one like in Sarah.

Chris Braden 11:03

Todd Burnham 11:04
So Sarah brings more for me on my side of of the aisle. But then JP has his thing. Jennifer has her thing. Danielle, young partner, has her thing. And like, she's, she's like a mentor. She's like a total mentor. And she mentors the right way. If I were to mentor you, you'd have a bunch of Tasmanian Devils running around. Right? It wouldn't it's not. That's not what we want. Eric is a is just a extremely experienced intellectual, calm presence. You probably need that with me.

Chris Braden 11:40

Todd Burnham 11:41
Right. So like the

Chris Braden 11:42
yin and the yang.

Todd Burnham 11:43
Exactly. And so you want it you partner to complement. You don't partner to be secure. There's nothing secure about this stuff. So my advice to everybody in the beginning, is do not partner.

Chris Braden 11:57

Todd Burnham 11:58
Find out what you're good at first. And then if you're freaking out, then you find someone you find someone that's going to the to elevate that part of the pillar of the you know, it's like a tripod, what's a six stool thing?

Chris Braden 12:13

Todd Burnham 12:13
Six pieces, right? So you want the chair to be even sure if it's just you, it's just you. But then everybody talks about how used to throw chairs. And I'm like, Well, that's what happens when we miss deadlines. And like, how the eff did you miss a deadline?

Chris Braden 12:28

Todd Burnham 12:29
Like, that's not even I know not to do that. So that's the piece that you don't you want to you've got to be able to get dirty in the beginning, you got to know what you you got to figure this out, know what you don't know, don't go off and think that you're going to read a bunch of books. And and you're going to know it, you either have intuition in this stuff or you don't.

Chris Braden 12:51

Todd Burnham 12:51
If you have it, don't partner, don't partner in in a typical way that most firms do. If you have the intuition, and you have a marketing sense and a business sense, and you're not as strong in the practical applications of the law that you're practicing. Then you find a baller.

Chris Braden 13:11

Todd Burnham 13:12
That's it. Find a baller that is better than you at practicing law. As long as you know the stuff that I'm talking about.

Chris Braden 13:19
Well, and that makes you a collaborator, you find people that make what you do better.

Todd Burnham 13:23
Yes. And they raise the ships.

Chris Braden 13:26

Todd Burnham 13:26
Right. And so otherwise, you're just a fantastic, and that's the hard part. And what I really did in the beginning was, I tried to be the best lawyer that I could possibly be, which in the end was just me trying to be as competitive as possible, and succeeding that way. But if I was just a marketer, and I sucked at law, I wouldn't be here.

Chris Braden 13:48

Todd Burnham 13:49
Because you're like, oh, yeah, Todd Burnham. He's a great marketer, but he's a shitty lawyer, great.

Chris Braden 13:54
Who wants that?

Todd Burnham 13:54
Who wants that, you know, you're gonna have a bunch of first time people, first time clients coming to you, and you're gonna have all the bad reviews. So in the beginning, you have to grind, you have to, like, be the person that's going to be doing everything. And when you realize that you are, your strengths are x, then you find those other pieces. And in the beginning for me, I also, you know, had a family and, and so the my most important partners always been my wife.

Chris Braden 14:25
Let me ask you this, because early on, when you're starting something up, people will partner with you. And sometimes that's intriguing. Because you see a little bit of money. If they're if they're going to invest and it's exciting. But then how did how did you kind of turn that away? Because that's what a business is all about. It's about making money. It's about providing for your family.

Todd Burnham 14:49

Chris Braden 14:49
Like that is the part where I think most people where they're going to go partner because you know what, I'm going to be cool for like three months now.

Todd Burnham 14:57
Yeah, yeah, it's um, it's just FEAR, right? False Evidence Appearing Real. I mean, if you're going to partner with someone, I'd do a background check to find out like, you know, what is this person really like? What's it like? Like, everyone's everyone's great when things are going well.

Chris Braden 15:14
Mm hmm.

Todd Burnham 15:14
When shit goes south, who's in your foxhole?

Chris Braden 15:17

Todd Burnham 15:18
Like, what's it like when you're reported to the bar? Because you missed a deadline? What's it like when, you know, is it blame? Is it like, all those kinds of things like, all those pieces come into come into play? And, I mean, I also just didn't believe in any of them.

Chris Braden 15:36

Todd Burnham 15:37
I just didn't think I thought I was, I was a better marketer, and I had a better feel for it. And I was better lawyers than most of them. So

Chris Braden 15:45
It's funny, one of the nicest things people in media have said about me is that I'm willing to cut bait.

Todd Burnham 15:52

Chris Braden 15:52
So like, whether I'm doing a segment that's not good, or, you know, I have a client that's just not working out or whatever, I'll be the first one to call it. And even if it cost me money, or half time on the air.

Todd Burnham 16:04

Chris Braden 16:04
I've always been willing to cut bait. And that's been, you know, and like when people tell me that, I don't know if they're saying it in a nice way. But I take it as a compliment. 100% And how do you when you're starting out new and you talked about how bad of a leader you were at the beginning? And I think you're being a little bit harsh. But if you were to have partnered with somebody, do you think you would have been able to have this growth that you have today, and not only the law firm's kicking ass, but like this personal growth that you've had in your life?

Todd Burnham 16:35
No! God, no, man. I mean, if I had if I had a partner in the beginning, I probably still be in a basement. Like, I mean, because I one would be like, oh, wait a second, I didn't think this through.

Chris Braden 16:47

Todd Burnham 16:48
This person sucks. Or I suck with them. Right?

Chris Braden 16:53
How do I dissolve this?

Todd Burnham 16:55
Did that? Did the papers get filed? Can we pull those out? Like,

Chris Braden 16:59
We didn't put my name on there did we?

Todd Burnham 17:01
Oh God man, I should have read that! You know, like, I just don't see it. I don't I don't see the value in that. And every single partnership that I've ever experienced in law, they have all dissolved.

Chris Braden 17:15

Todd Burnham 17:16
All of them. So I knew people in in New York, I know people here. Eventually people grow.

Chris Braden 17:23

Todd Burnham 17:24
And they grow in different directions. And this is an evolution and, and I've thought about, you know, like changing the name to Burnham, Randall and so and so. And I'm like, No, it's just, it's just, it's not about ego. It's just like

Chris Braden 17:38
Well it's a good a marketing name too. To remember, it's easy peasy.

Todd Burnham 17:41
It's totally and so that the old school lawyers and all that stuff, the people that have big firms, they'll have a 20 partners underneath it, but it's still the same one name, right? But all these other people, respected lawyers, high level lawyers that I've seen, that have partnered with other individuals, they've never made it. They've never lasted because people grow people change. People have different ideas. A child might want to go to college, one child might get sick, all of these different factors that go into it. How does this person deal with adversity versus that person? Imagine me partnering with someone that is not that is doesn't share the same kind of drive?

Chris Braden 18:22

Todd Burnham 18:23
Holy crap. That would be like,

Chris Braden 18:25
They'd probably quit that, right.

Todd Burnham 18:28
Well, yeah. Or I'd be like, Oh, my God, this is not gonna work.

Chris Braden 18:32
This guy's heavy.

Todd Burnham 18:33
Yeah. Like, what do you mean, you're you turn your phone off at eight o'clock. today? Are you serious? Like, do you realize what's at stake here? Like, we've got families, we've got a grind. It's really important to me to have that work life balance, get that shit. Like, in five years, when you're making money.

Chris Braden 18:50
Your wife will understand mine would.

Todd Burnham 18:52
Exactly like, my, my wife's putting the kids to bed right now. Well, my wife and I, we are my husband and I, because I honestly, I partner mostly with women. I think they're by and large grinders.

Chris Braden 19:05

Todd Burnham 19:05
Like, they just bust their ass.

Chris Braden 19:07
Well, you have a lot of good ones.

Todd Burnham 19:08
I have. I've got great ones. We have great ones. And so like, there's so many pitfalls with that. And that's the benefit of this is that now everyone can talk about how much it was how hard it was. And it was just chaos, like Lasky said, but it's just it's so smooth now. And it's not not my vision. It's more like the principles that I've come to learn that I had, but I learned are kind of foundational pieces.

Chris Braden 19:40

Todd Burnham 19:41
And so the vision from here on out as long as we have those foundational pieces, and we even like, added one the other day. It's you have to have a work ethic. You gotta want to be great. And it's got to be fun.

Chris Braden 19:52

Todd Burnham 19:52
Those are the three. I mean, I've added that just doing this with you and it makes sense to me right? From there. It's like, alright, Stephanie, what are your Right, keep those. What else do you want to add to that?

Chris Braden 20:03

Todd Burnham 20:03
Add to it. All right partners, like, what do you guys want to do? What do you like, to me that's positive. That's something that is is true. It's authentic. It's visionary. It's marketable.

Chris Braden 20:14
That's a cool idea. Because I do work with a company and they have entrepreneurs mantras, and they have a wall, that everybody's kind of written theirs on there. And it's, honestly, when I go there, I always take a picture next to just because it is forever changing.

Todd Burnham 20:30
I love it. Yeah, it's forever changing.

Chris Braden 20:31

Todd Burnham 20:32
This whole thing is forever changing.

Chris Braden 20:33

Todd Burnham 20:33
And so like, imagine, like, partnering with you, you will be partnering, right? Love you think you're great. I think our votes just cancel each other out. Right? So, so, but But it's like, like, imagine that if we get into some some thing that happens that we have completely different ideological beliefs on.

Chris Braden 20:54

Todd Burnham 20:55
How do you still partner with someone like that you can get through it? Or what's that next thing? So it's just better to say, Okay, I'm gonna, this is the thing that has been created. The partners that that in the partnership track here at Burnham Law is so much better than any other place, you're going to make, honestly, five to 10 times more here, because it's just it's set.

Chris Braden 21:21

Todd Burnham 21:22
Every place else. It's like, Alright, now come in and keep grinding for 60 hours. Like, right? This is a thinking law firm, not it's not about the grind. The young lawyers, the people that are you have minimums, but I mean, if you want to rise to a level then you grind out.

Chris Braden 21:36

Todd Burnham 21:36
But every other place is just not like that. And I think it's all antiquated. I think that this is the way to do it. It. It's something nobody else is doing. And I'm really proud of that. I'm super proud of that.

Chris Braden 21:49
Nike in a suit.

Todd Burnham 21:51
That's it.

Chris Braden 21:52
That's so cool, man. Good stuff, Todd.

Todd Burnham 21:54
Right on.

Hey, thanks for listening. Make sure you subscribe, and until next time, keep getting better.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai