Face Change Head On

about this episode

"The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.” – Arnold SchwarzeneggerBumper Music - The Beeves, Playing Bingo

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 have power 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's it going, buddy?

Todd Burnham 0:57
Hey, Chris, good to see you, man.

Chris Braden 0:59
You know what, season two I'm so excited for this. A lot of things have changed since Season One ended. And that was back in February, March. And then just

Todd Burnham 1:10
What's happened since then anything going on?

Chris Braden 1:12
The poo hit the fan. Everybody went crazy. And now we're at where we are today. So I guess really? What's kind of been going on with you since March, end of season one into Season Two? Also, what kind of feedback did you get from those first 20 episodes?

Todd Burnham 1:31
Well, uh, you know, I guess the first thing that comes to mind is change. And, and I really focused, you know, especially when COVID hit right when our thing was ending, right? You know, you try to you got to pump people up, you got to be like, in the face of adversity, you've these are opportunities, these are opportunities to get better. And, and I've been really happy with the way that everybody's responded for the most part. And I think that these, you know, this isn't the level the playing field when everyone is dealing with the same adversity. And so, to that end, I think that it's been a really great moment and times in terms of growth, and also recognizing people's weaknesses, when they're faced with adversity, and fear and fear of the unknown and, and trying to make sure that I didn't, you know, fears, false evidence appearing real?

Chris Braden 2:21

Todd Burnham 2:22
So I mean, put a damn mask on wash your hands, I think you're good to go, that's the best you can do. Other than, you know, hunkering down in the basement of your house with a trap door to make sure. So those and you can't judge people on that, you just have to, at the same time, recognize that that's where people are at. And I just, you can't, if I did that, then it wouldn't have a law firm. You know, this is when leaders lead. And so I've, you know, I've, I feel like I've gotten and become more stronger, stronger, and my leadership ability. And I've also watched several people step up in that realm and surprised me as well. So it's been a, you know, it's been unfortunate, it's sucked

Chris Braden 3:03
You can say that again.

Todd Burnham 3:04
Jesus, I mean, but at the same time, it's, you got to make lemonade in these moments. Otherwise, you're just going to be talking about the lemons for the past six months, and that doesn't get you moving forward. So did the best I could.

Chris Braden 3:14
No, and I've told people about this. It's funny, because when we were wrapping up Season One of deep bench, we already have an inkling of what was going on. And I talked to you about how it was when I was down in Florida like right before they, they closed it down. And we called it a Deep Bench, or you call the Deep Bench, because you have a great staff, you have a deep bench of amazing talent working with you. But I always told everybody I go, Todd was ahead of this.

Todd Burnham 3:44

Chris Braden 3:45
And I want to ask you, how much of that was intuition, listening to your employees? And kind of putting that all together? Like, how did you make the decision going forward? Because you went remote before everyone else went remote?

Todd Burnham 3:59
Well, I mean, I guess that you got to look at and I was talking to people, you know, just looking a little bit at the news. And I'm like, I mean, this thing's happening, right? And so and even before that, though, it's kind of the mindset of how do we get more efficient? How do we how do we get better? And and it's from the communications in intakes to attorneys. It's from calendaring a certain way. It's from, you know, making sure that your server isn't locked in a in a closet, it's on the web, everything's on the cloud. So I mean, we were set we were primed for this, to be efficient, even during these times. And so I think it's just the mindset we talked about in season one about just being on top of your business. That's really it. And so, and this is the benefit of it, you're not scrambling, you're not like it's not it's not panic, it's instead I was, you know, doing these videos and telling people like you know, just kind of keeping morale up, and also like telling everybody in a transparent way. We are here for long term, do not be afraid you're going to lose your job. I'm applying for the PPP loan, we have this and keeping them updated, right? Like I changed banks during this time from Chase to Key Bank, because Key Bank allowed us to get the PPP loan, and Chase, we were number 180,000 line. And so those are decisions that you make when you're looking for partnerships. You're like, Chase, never again,

Chris Braden 5:26

Todd Burnham 5:26
Key Bank, I gave them all my business put cars in Key Bank, I put my house in Key Bank, like I committed to Key Bank because they made it happen. And so it's just the stuff that we've been talking about, for the first season. Just in action, right? So it wasn't anything that I did differently. I just added like, Alright, what do people need during this time they need reassurance. So I was just myself and told him, Look, we're here for the long term. I want to see who steps up. And we bonus out people.

Chris Braden 5:55

Todd Burnham 5:56
Well, there's people out a lot during that time, because that's how you show appreciation mean to you, hey, here's more money because you did more. And so the people that didn't I didn't do that. But there was still mandatory, you know, you got to hit your numbers like this is especially during that time, it's such an uncertain time. You don't want people not doing their jobs. And if they can't do them, well, how can you help them? And a lot of it's just motivation, and maybe some comic, you know, comic relief on my end. Like it was it was pretty funny. But I mean, it's, you know, we all did the best that we could and, and you keep getting better. Everyone talks about a new surge coming. All right, yeah. If you listen to the news constantly, then the sky is falling. But how

Chris Braden 6:38
You're gonna go crazy.

Todd Burnham 6:39
You're gonna go crazy man. Like, just what can you control? And how do you? How do you hone those skills. And I looked around the firm. And I saw that, and especially a lot of late additions recently, I saw that we were, we're primed to do great things. Like right now it's, it's positioned, the Burnham law firm is positioned to probably expand into different states. And we're ready to do that.

Chris Braden 7:05
Last thing on the COVID. You and I had talked during between when we ended last episode, in this one, we've talked, how proud of you were you of your staff that they were able to continue servicing your clients in the way that you've always expected them to do before all of this happened, being able to, to service the existing clients, but also bring on new clientele? How proud of you were you have your staff?

Todd Burnham 7:32
I've been proud for a long time.

Chris Braden 7:34

Todd Burnham 7:34
Right? And so it pride in that is is fleeting, because you know, then you'll have a complaint or something and you're like, What the hell happened. And that wasn't my role anymore. So the thing that I'm proud of the most is that the way that people step up and faced adversity, that's the thing that I'm most proud of, you know, it's not that that's become that's just kind of, part of what we do anyway, is doing great work, we talked about that. That's like, if you have talented people that are that are servicing clients at the at the highest level, that's awesome. That's what you always want. That's the basis for what we do and why the firm has been successful. But to do that, in the face of adversity during a pandemic, where there's a an instant recession, to continue to provide that high level is something that I've just come to expect the things that I haven't appreciated until those moments where you see the core of people, like who are the people that have mental toughness. Mental toughness is, you know, I was telling my girls the other day, like, in lacrosse, you know, we went we went back, we came back from Salt Lake City, and, and they're like, you know, they're kind of complaining about something and, and I said, I didn't know you were soft. And both of them were so mad at me. Like they're like, Oh, that's nice that you'd call us soft dad, you know, like, I said, 'Look, I'm not calling you soft as who you are, I'm calling you out on your mental toughness, right?' Like, you can either make lemonade or you can complain about the lemons. And and that's really what I'm trying to instill every day. It's like, that's what you know. And I see that it reverberates in the law firm, when, you know, everybody is struggling at different times, mentally, and the ones that can push through and lead during those times. That's when you know, you have leadership. And that's when you know, you can make serious changes that you've been planning on.

Chris Braden 7:40
You know, dude that is such good parenting. I love that because you sound so much like me, because, you know, I have daughters too. And I want them to recognize that and know that they have they can affect that and they can change that. Absolutely. And I've told my daughters that in the past. I'm like, well, that doesn't have to happen. That's right. And it's right. It changes their mindset. Yes, they do get mad. Yeah, but that means that they're listening

Todd Burnham 9:58
Well and I want and I be upset. I'd be somewhat disappointed if they weren't upset, right? Because then they wouldn't, it wouldn't matter to them. And I see them like playing lacrosse, like Clara's the third grade playing against sixth graders.

Chris Braden 10:11

Todd Burnham 10:11
And she gets pissed. She's like, I want to be more on the field. I said, then work your left hand more, you're like, you're a foot shorter than all these girls.

Chris Braden 10:19

Todd Burnham 10:19
And but she's out there going after a ground ball. And, and once we get like a draw, and it's our ball, you can see you're like, pumping her fist. And I'm like, that is exactly what I'm talking about. That is like that competitive drive. I love it. I mean, she's gonna go and play with third graders that aren't good able to pass and catch. And she'll dominate. But how do you get better you play up, always play up. And that's what I'm always trying to do is have us play up. What more can we do? Don't just be satisfied with being the best at this right now. Because everybody else is going to get better. How do you stay ahead? How do you innovate? How do you do all these things? So I've been, you know, I, this is just who I am.

Chris Braden 10:58

Todd Burnham 10:58
I can't, like, can't turn this stuff off.

Chris Braden 11:01
It's how you push yourself to your potential.

Todd Burnham 11:04
Yeah. And I have down days, you know, I'll be, I'll go days or I'm just like, kind of in a funk. And I've got to pull out of it. And usually, it's just me just kind of thinking and I'm actually reading the book finally is 10% happier is about meditation.

Chris Braden 11:17

Todd Burnham 11:18
You no, from this, this guy who had like an on air panic attack and Good Morning America or something. And, and he was just like, you know, he, he realized that meditating, and turning off his mind a little bit was the answer. So like, I'm constantly trying to do like, progress.You know? And trying to like, be a better X. And, and it's not like a Tony Robbins thing, where it's rah, rah, it's just an internal thing of mine, like, what do I want in my life?

Chris Braden 11:44

Todd Burnham 11:44
What do I what do I want to achieve? Is this like, you know, you build a legitimate law firm that provides real value to people? Is that my purpose? No, I think it's just helping people. And I think we got to the point now, where the law firm, it's being managed and run by people that are exceptional at what they do, especially with Stephanie Randall. And, and at that point, I made a decision that, like, last week that I've got two months left, and I'm gonna hand the reins over to the partners.

Chris Braden 12:15
So yeah, I was gonna ask you about that. So it was funny. I'm, I'm so glad you connected me in on that email, I get the email, it was called Changes, you went through the process. So during this COVID crisis, you went through some evaluation? And so you're going to step away? How did you come to that decision? what's exactly happening at the law firm?

Todd Burnham 12:39
Well, I mean, I came to that decision because I realized one that being at home during COVID, I appreciate it a lot. Like my, um, it's more chaotic for me because I've got Archer, my four year old who's like, Daddy, play with me. And I'm like, No, dude, and he's like, Daddy, play with me, you know? And I'm coaching with girl, my girls and spending time with my wife during the day. And it was really happy is a good place for me, like I this is my purpose is really my family. And, and I created a law firm to provide for my family and doing it the best way that I knew how in areas of practice that I thought I was excellent at. And as it's grown, it's morphed. And I have people and, you know, in the way that we do it is we have partners in domestic relations partners in personal injury, partners in civil and criminal and those are those the leaders and those partners in those divisions are partnering with me. And, and I got to the point, after I named Aaron Belzer, partner in civil litigation, I realized that everything is tight, there's no the cupboard is full, it's primed. This firm is primed with the talent that we have, especially recent talents, like people like Ben Brightwell, and, and Leslie, like, these people are exceptional attorneys. And quite frankly, like, I think that their level of talent exceeds mine, you know, and, and my strength is developing and creating a team and a culture of winning at a way that is providing value and purpose to people that were servicing. And, and it just hit me it was once I figured out how to do the profit sharing with partners, I realized that it was such a win win, that incentivizes people to get better, that it didn't require me sending videos are anymore and I just trust the people and I, it's time for me to take a step back and look at different things that I want to do and for the people there. And remember we talked about this pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. I could have added four lawyers in different practice areas, increased revenue significantly and gave people raises. And I'm like, that doesn't feel right. I want people to I want people to have a feeling of ownership of the profits. And so I created the bones and the framework in my head of how what that looks like. And it felt so right to me that I just did it. And and I'm, you know, in December, I'm leaving for three months with my family, we're gonna ride out COVID in, in Kawaii, and I'm gonna,

Chris Braden 15:20
I spent 10 days there.

Todd Burnham 15:21

Chris Braden 15:22
Best 10 days of my life, maybe right outside of a few things that I don't have time to list off here.

Todd Burnham 15:28
I get it, the the, to me, it's like, it's just it's a, it's a redo, right, and reset. And there's other things that I want to accomplish, while still supporting leadership at the firm. And I just, that's, I'm really proud of of them, and being able to do that. And more so like, providing long term stability for everybody at this law firm because everything is tight. And when you have the intakes department is the best I've seen the marketing department with Sarah is the best I've seen, our website is the best I've seen, the lawyers are the best I've seen, the being able to move, we're opening an office in the Springs that we're going to purchase, we've purchased it, we finished it in November, and having half of it be you know, the, the springs office and then other ones other side's gonna be like, you know, a form of WeWorks. But B works and having people that can come in and rent those spaces, it's like, there's a progression for me, as an owner and a leader, I want to start doing things and, and, and really, the the way that the reason why I'm doing this podcast, again, is to like jumpstart my thought process again, like it did before and finish a book that adds more value to people. So I'm just I'm excited for what lies ahead. And at the same time reflective of how we got here. And I think that, you know, I did it in in 10 years. I think if people didn't make the same mistakes I did they can replicate this and five, and why wouldn't you want to do that? You know, so, I it's given me I've given 10 years of of everything I have to it. It's in great hands, and I want to spend time with my family and do things that that I've always been thinking about. It's pretty cool man. It's crazy.

Chris Braden 17:10
I know I want to be I'm going to be your first client at the at the new office because I'm stoked and I know how you guys do things and it's just being around that Burnham posse in the Springs, man. Yeah, it'll help you get a few more hours of work out of your day, because it's just so much fun. They grind man they grind on but it is fun. Hey, I want to in the next episode, kind of want to get into how you came to this decision. Maybe? What's next besides a sabbatical? In Kawaii? One thing I did recognize is you empowering these partners and empowering them to grow their programs. Doesn't that kind of just... I go back to all the other episodes that we have.Isn't that kind of what you do? We talked about it before we came on there. You've hired people that aren't only a really high level, but they want to strive for more. And I call it like eat what you kill.

Todd Burnham 18:05

Chris Braden 18:05
And they go out there. And not only do they find it, but they devour it. Once they get that.

Todd Burnham 18:11
Well, this eat what you kill is a is a way that some law firms actually operate where you you make the money that you bring in. But we do all the marketing here. Right? And so it's like, and that's why you're setting you're propping up a business. I could have sold it. Yeah, like we've had, I've had people come to me and and we're talking millions of dollars. Sure. And I didn't tell my wife this.

Chris Braden 18:34
Yeah no.

Todd Burnham 18:34
But it's like, because it doesn't make sense.

Chris Braden 18:37

Todd Burnham 18:37
Like, why would I sell something that is so established that's based on reputations of all the people that are involved in it? And not let them take it from here?

Chris Braden 18:47

Todd Burnham 18:48
Like and still and so from from it just, it wasn't even really a consideration. It was more of, you know, we have leadership here that I feel that confident that I'm not going to do something that safe, right, I'm gonna do something that's right. And right by the people that have built it, and that are continuing to build it. And then from what they do from here is theirs, like Think, think about the life the life changing moments for the people in leadership positions and people that are trying to become partners at Burnham law, why wouldn't you want to join a place here that is going to share in a significant amount of profits? And because they're earned, you know, it's not just like, oh, yeah, you get a piece of this and Oh, personal injury had a case come in. We're all gonna share it No, civil, you get that? It's from civil. Yeah, it's domestic relations. How good are you? Can you maintain this? Can you keep it up? Can you get better? You get that. Like that, and that, to me is like the ultimate win win.

Chris Braden 19:47

Todd Burnham 19:47
And when I came up with it in it, and I reflected on it. I mean, I couldn't even I was typing. I was writing that email on my cell phone without glasses. I'm pretty sure there's misspellings and I'm like, This is what it is. It makes sense. It's my truth do it. And I just did it.

Chris Braden 20:02
Did you read it before you send it like burn the ships?

Todd Burnham 20:04
No, I didn't man. I just said, Screw it. This is this. It felt so right. And that's what I hope people get to like you trust in yourself like, what is your truth? And is it servicing other people? Is it of service? And does it? Does it empower other people? And if I knocked out all those categories, I'm like, Oh, God, yeah, this is exactly what the right move is. And it and it's not just me sitting around just with waiting for money coming in. I don't want that life. I'm very happy with what I'm proud of what I've created with a lot of help from a lot of people. And the things that are important to me is I want to be a, you know, coaching my life of my kids.

Chris Braden 20:45
Heck yeah.

Todd Burnham 20:46
You know, I want to be like,

Chris Braden 20:47
That's your legacy.

Todd Burnham 20:48
That's it. It's not this and it's everything stays the same, except I'm going to take a step back and hand the reins over to people that are highly talented and much more capable than I.

Chris Braden 20:57
Well, that's awesome. Todd, in the next episode, I kind of want to like explore a little bit more about how you came to this decision because it makes so much sense to me, because you've always been a guy that once you've made up your mind, you kind of go with it. Yeah, good or bad and live with the consequences. And it's really cool to watch that play out.

Todd Burnham 21:17
I appreciate that, man.

Chris Braden 21:18
All right. I'll catch you next time.

Todd Burnham 21:20
Yeah, I'll see you soon.

Chris Braden 21:22
No, I'll see you soon.

Todd Burnham 21:23
No I'll see you soon. Hey, thanks for listening. Make sure you subscribe, and until next time, keep getting better.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai