"My brain...it cannon process failure. It will not process failure. Because if I sit there and have to face myself and tell myself ‘You're a failure’...I think that's almost worse than death." - Kobe Bryant
Introduction music by the up-and-coming band The Beeves! Thanks boys!
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 1:11
Good, man. How are you?
Chris Braden 1:13
Good. So these podcasts have been fun for me to do. We learned a lot about your childhood growing up in New York. You said you were juvenile delinquent? I think you were just kind of like, I don't know. I did stuff like that.
Todd Burnham 1:26
Chris Braden 1:26
I mean, but breaking into my own school. That's just weird.
Todd Burnham 1:29
Yeah, it is. I really
Chris Braden 1:31
Especially if you don't love it.
Todd Burnham 1:32
I wantted to get an education so badly. Right?
Chris Braden 1:35
So we've talked about all that. You got accepted into law school, and Callie ended up back in Albany for law school. So now you got a law degree.
Todd Burnham 1:46
New law degree, I would have to go get a job. I'm just doing what everybody else does, right? I'm going to get a job. I'm working for different places. I ended up starting my own firm in Albany, New York. And it started with a real estate investing, and it just kind of naturally progressed, I'm doing real estate investing, like wait a second, I just closed on this house. And that lawyer sucked. Who was doing that, that closing and, and then I'm gonna own a title company, because why am I giving money to that title company. So my mind was always turning. I was always thinking about different things and different ways of doing things better, especially because I'm competitive. And I'm like, Well, I, I think you sucked at that. And I can totally do that much better. And I did. And then it was at the time. I was in real estate, all real estate. Think real estate real estate thing. Todd Burnham and 2008 hit. And around that same time with the recession is when I reconnected with my college girlfriend. So it all kind of worked out at the right time that I was going to transition, but didn't work out the right time. Because it's just you know, you go through a recession and everything halts. And, and it sucks. It sucks. But I also reconnected with the one from college that got away who I'm married to now. And I was not going to let that happen again. I said, I have to be with this woman. And so I went back and forth from Colorado in New York. I wasn't admitted yet in Colorado. So she was she had a retail business in Cherry Creek, Katy did and that was struggling. So she needed help financially. So I was going back and forth flying, bringing money just to help out I finally got admitted. And I had instant family. not married yet. Two stepsons, and a home in Erie, Colorado. So I started in a basement. And when you talk about motivation, like drive, that is when you know who you are. You're facing, it's a recession. You're newly admitted, you don't know anybody. There is no money coming in. You're late on the mortgage payments. And by the way these kids need to eat. And you got to go introduce yourself to him too, because you're there stepped out now. And that kind of stress level consumed me. It was really hard. I didn't take care of my body. I was I was struggling to. I'd never felt that amount of stress before. I've never been married before, right?
Chris Braden 4:08
Todd Burnham 4:09
So we got married. And I started having children my own and I was going from one thing to another in terms of making money in the law. I do bankruptcy because that's what was happening. And I thought I could do it better is the theme here.
Chris Braden 4:23
That is a theme and I want to ask you about that. So a theme running through all of these podcasts was you striving to be better but not only that, saying I can do that better.
Todd Burnham 4:33
I can do that better than you.
Chris Braden 4:34
What gave you that idea and What gave you that passion to always be proving yourself all the time that's got to be exhausting.
Todd Burnham 4:41
It's not exhausting, if it's how you live and and so having three years of lacrosse to get to college instead of 10 like everybody else, having just my mom and I and my uncle and grandmother rather than traditional family where there's structured discipline, learning about how to be a man and all honesty I learned more about how to be a man from Kobe Bryant, I started listening to him I, I followed him. And then the thing that literally changed my life was watching Kobe Bryant's muse, on Showtime 2015 or something it, it transformed me, and in a way that that I can't describe. And it lit something, it lit a fire in me that I've never ever since have not been able to put out and it was a quote, and it was from the muse. And it was he said, my brain, it cannot process failure, it will not process failure. Because if I sit there and have to face myself and tell myself, you're a failure, I think that's almost worse than death. And, and now that Kobe passed this week, and I'm devastated by it. And at the same time I'm so grateful for, for what he did for me, literally, is just being alive. And speaking the truth. Being such a forward thinker. It was the catalyst that changed everything. I found inspiration in someone that I could identify with, and someone that had the same passion for success, but really being competitive, and wanting to keep getting better. It started there. And when I heard that he passed away, I was I mean, this was my role model who was younger than me.
Chris Braden 6:22
Todd Burnham 6:22
And from there, it opened up so many different ways. Once I tapped into my drive that is inherently in me. From however I was raised. From that point. I tried to emulate the mindset of Kobe Bryant. And from there I tried to emulate and feel the law like I feel Springsteen literally, Kobe Bryant, Bruce Springsteen, and Nancy Burnham. That's why I'm here.
Chris Braden 6:51
So here a combination of those three, those three. That's interesting. Bruce
Todd Burnham 6:55
Springsteen speaks about passion. Kobe Bryant speaks about passion, love for a game. In the beginning, my love for it was not for the law. It was for my family, and I'll do whatever it takes to grind it out. And that's what brings it to sports. Everything about my motivation, my drive, my competitive nature, only thing I knew was sports. And looking now at what I've created with the support and love of the people that are here, the people that came before them, my family is a burning desire to get better. And that translated into everything, right, you know, there was 2015, I was 200 pounds. I was eating like crap, and stress owned me. I wasn't a good husband. I was building the business. I had employees that I was not inspiring. I was inspiring, probably based on fear of, you know, losing your job, and not really inspiring confidence that I'll be there for you before you'll be there for me. And I learned these things by listening to Kobe Bryant, no shit. I can't make this up. I would never do it. I would never make it up.
Chris Braden 8:06
Todd Burnham 8:06
Kobe was the one that I wanted to be like, it wasn't Be Like Mike. It was be like Kobe, be like Kobe as a father be like Kobe, the fallible man who's made mistakes, who grew from them, who by all accounts lived for his family. And I live for my family and the people here we all live for our families. And we all do this together. Now. Because together, we are better than just us individually.
Chris Braden 8:37
It's kind of inspiring, because I think if you come from an athletic background, we all have that that guy that we choose in it. And a lot of times really, when you're looking at athletes, their careers are so short.
Todd Burnham 8:49
They're so short, and they and the things that Kobe like talked about was sacrifice. Yes. He talks about having that burning desire and not caring about what people think of you.
Chris Braden 9:00
Todd Burnham 9:00
And that was 2015 when I met Kobe, for the first time really look at who Kobe was not not the basketball player, but the inspirational figure for people going through anything. And is when I started learning about how to get my mind, right. It's just in your mind. And then if you take certain leaps of faith, based on your gut in what you're feeling, and not being run by your mind, but born by your intuition, your gut, your instincts, your heart, if you're able to do that, and trust yourself, as Kobe did. He knew it early on. I got this later in life. But I'm so grateful that I got it because the result of that is being able to inspire people to be better than what they are and not to just be happy with being average.
Chris Braden 9:51
You talk about role models. He talked about the lacrosse coach you had you talk about your mom a lot. Let's move it into Kobe or other People outside of that. I think Kobe Bryant is a great example of somebody that was young, who kind of made some mistakes here and there. But when you talk about sacrifice, he didn't consider it sacrifice.
Todd Burnham 10:12
No, because he loved it. Well, and it was a passion for the game, right? And the sacrifice was for his family. So the sacrifice he talked about was that to be great at this thing, other things fall off.
Chris Braden 10:25
Stuff that shouldn't matter to you at that time.
Todd Burnham 10:27
That's right. But it should matter if it's your family. He's in a helicopter, because he was trying to spend more time with his family.
Chris Braden 10:33
Todd Burnham 10:34
Chris Braden 10:35
Todd Burnham 10:35
So these things that, while tragic, still inspire me and make me want to continue to live a life that Kobe Bryant turned me on to what better way to honor someone then to emulate that person and make it count. So I'm deeply saddened, and I'm deeply grateful. And I don't know where this firm would be or where I would be or where my mind would be or my heart for wasn't for watching Kobe Bryant's muse. And then from there after just picking the pieces from his messages that resonated with me from a competitive spirit, and being the best man and husband and dad that I can be, well, failing miserably, repeatedly. And as long as I continued to get failure out of my system or out of my head, then conquering fear was the only way that I was going to be able to lead people and build a large and successful firm. And I owe that in large part to Kobe Bean Bryant.
Chris Braden 11:36
I think it's interesting. You talk about 2015. Yeah, because obviously, you knew about Kobe Bryant for a long time. He's been around for a long time. I mean, we've known him since he was in high school. But the fact that you say 2015 is interesting to me, because you got to in the muse, especially, and even after that since 2015, you've been able to see the evolution not of the basketball player, but of the man, the things he was able to do. He retired and most people, especially great athletes, have a horrible time transitioning from I'm Kobe Bryant, the basketball player, now he's Kobe Bryant, the entrepreneur, the Father, he had been able to move forward in his life in a way that a lot of people can't.
Todd Burnham 12:26
Well, and I'm an all or nothing person. I'm inherently that way. I believe in hitting rock bottom.
Chris Braden 12:33
Todd Burnham 12:33
I believe in that my wife jokes with me a lot about that you don't always have to hit rock bottom. If I'm going to do a diet or something this you don't have to gain 10 pounds before you start watching what you eat. But that's just how I'm wired. And when I saw Kobe and beforehand that the mentality was this of an assassin. Yeah, and I emulated that my marketing emulated that Chris.
Chris Braden 12:53
The mamba mentality.
Todd Burnham 12:54
The mamba mentality and watch it if you look at the history of this law firm. It was aggressive, we will dominate.
Chris Braden 13:02
Todd Burnham 13:03
And I've used that term all the time throughout this practice that I wanted to dominate.
Chris Braden 13:07
Todd Burnham 13:07
It's Kobe, this is Kobe.
Chris Braden 13:09
Todd Burnham 13:10
And then I also learned that there's more to this than just dominating. It's that balance in life that was really important to me. I'm going to be the best dad that I possibly can be. And I'm learning these traits from people other than my father. I teach my kids, Kobe isms. Now, if I asked them, Hey, girls would burden girls do they say work hard and never give up? Daddy?
Chris Braden 13:35
Todd Burnham 13:36
Those are things that I learned from him. It's not that they're so extraneous are so large that I couldn't comprehend them. I just never exposed to it from someone that I truly respected in wanting to be like, so this passing is to me is like a family member. It hurts a lot.
Chris Braden 13:55
It does. And it's like the death of a friend because we all knew him. And you know, the fact that his daughter was in the helicopter with him that just that makes it even that much harder. I one thing I wanted to kind of say to you because you talked about emulating Kobe. I think when we find mentors, we do emulate them. But I think we have a little bit of that in us already.
Todd Burnham 14:20
You have to.
Chris Braden 14:21
That helps us identify that.
Todd Burnham 14:23
Well, And so for me, it's sports, right? If someone's listening in, they're not an athlete, or they're not exposed to athletics, but they are really into playing the piano.
Chris Braden 14:32
Todd Burnham 14:32
As long as you're trying to get better. It's really the core of this podcast if you take nothing away from it. The importance of just getting better practicing your craft of doing things every day, one step at a time. If you do those things, no matter what it is, you'll find something to relate to if the ultimate goal is to be great at it. Kobe was great at it and the difference with Kobe is that his game, his basketball career, and the way he described it is the same game I'm playing here, right, I'm playing the game of building a law firm. He's playing the game of basketball, but it's based on the premises of teamwork. Kobe wasn't the best at this, but distributing the ball of sharing the talent level around you and relying on teammates and getting strength from the hole, and ultimately providing the best possible service to clients because you have a stable of experts which we'll get into but with Kobe, it's that mentality allowed me to evolve into what is already inherently in me and I happen to attach to Kobe someone else might attach to stories about Beethoven or someone might want to mirror a famous actress who went through struggles or something that effect but it's find your inspiration is really the Find your muse find your muse Kobe Bryant is mine.
Chris Braden 15:51
You literally found the Muse.
Todd Burnham 15:52
He, exactly, and I get really emotional about it, because it's like, he is like, I owe him like a debt of gratitude.
Chris Braden 15:59
Todd Burnham 16:00
Like I really wanted to talk about him.
Chris Braden 16:01
Todd Burnham 16:02
And so thank you,
Chris Braden 16:03
It's, it's deeply felt, and I totally understand your emotion. I just one thing in closing about Kobe, and I think it kind of identifies you a little bit I think Kobe you talked about maybe he's not the best at this. You know what, I really think that he could have been whatever he wanted to in the NBA. He scored 81 points. And Jalen Rose is still feeling that today. But when he finally realized that he needed his teammates, he needed Derek Fisher. He needed those guys it was this was after the Shaq years. Yeah. And he realized, okay, yeah, I can do all this. But I need those guys. And he was able to change his game.
Todd Burnham 16:43
Chris Braden 16:44
I think that's when you really got to see who Kobe truly is.
Todd Burnham 16:48
Well, and think about this man, like you're constantly evolving. Kobe Bryant was the epitome of growth.
Chris Braden 16:55
Right. That's a great point.
Todd Burnham 16:56
He was always trying to grow to learn more experiences. You asked him like, why can't you fail at something because I'll never stop trying. These are just core concepts. It's not like I want to be Kobe, I want to wear his jersey. I love the way the man thought and the way that he motivated me.
Chris Braden 17:11
Todd Burnham 17:11
And when you can keep evolving, you're not just and that's when we talk about business plans.
Chris Braden 17:16
Todd Burnham 17:17
This is the business plan of evolution, you're constantly going where you are inherently supposed to go. If you drop the oars, stop paddling upstream, go where to have trust and faith in your mindset. And be accurate with where you're at in your life in terms of your competencies.
Chris Braden 17:35
Todd Burnham 17:35
And if you can do that, and follow your instinct that you honed through fire and through failure, but learning from it quickly, then it's exciting because you don't know what the future holds. And that's a whole different thing. And that's the unfortunate part with Kobe was he was planning his afterlife after playing for like five years.
Chris Braden 17:55
Todd Burnham 17:55
He was excited about it. The sacrifice that he put in way from his family, he was going to make up for that. And he was doing that on the day he died. So it's not just emulate somebody it's find a connection with that inspires you to reach your maximum potential. And with a burning desire, do not abandon it. And don't listen to anyone that tells you, "You can't do it. You're not good enough. You're not smart enough. You're not the best lawyer, you're not the best this." I wake up every morning, still thinking about not making Empire State team. And that's my chip on my shoulder. I carry that. I don't know if that's really healthy. But I do it. And I wake up. I get here and depending on the mood, I'm playing like Van Halen with everybody like ripping it up. Like let's get fired up. That's all I know.
Chris Braden 18:48
Todd Burnham 18:48
I'm not like everybody. Listen up. This is your leader, Todd Burnham. It's like yo, everyone. Let's get fired up. It's Tuesday. It's Wednesday.
Chris Braden 18:59
And that was a good inverse. Hey fellas, you know, let's get ready for the day.
Todd Burnham 19:03
Let's, let's do the pledge. Like, I'm like, I'm trying. I'm trying to get people. I want people excited, right? When people fired up, I'm getting them excited to go into the game. And the game what it's turning into for all of us here is just the game of life.
Chris Braden 19:19
Todd Burnham 19:19
That we're all trying to navigate. And I just feel good, pretty good about my ability to help people from clients to our own people that we work with and in our colleagues here to just be better than what they think they can be.
Chris Braden 19:35
So I think this is apropos and this is what you talked about years early on. Here's a quote from Kobe Bryant, you've probably heard it that means a lot to me and this is past basketball, as Kobe said, "Have a good time. Life's too short to get bogged down and be discouraged. You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, smile, and keep rolling."
Todd Burnham 19:57
That's a great way to end it. It's easy Do you get bogged down and discouraged when you're one of your greatest influences passed away.
Chris Braden 20:04
Todd Burnham 20:05
But I'm going to do just that I'm going to keep moving, I'm going to keep going put one foot in front of the other smile, and try to keep inspiring and passing along the message.
Chris Braden 20:13
So you mentioned early on, talked about some of your badass marketing techniques. I think we should get into that pretty soon. The next couple shows.
Todd Burnham 20:22
Well, the things that I think about and what I'm trying to do here is really provide a roadmap for people that they can look at as a guide, or something that can inspire them. But next time, we're going to talk about burning the ships and yes, that's total and full commitment. And because if you have a burning desire, but you're not fully committed, then you're just wasting your time. You have to go all in.
Chris Braden 20:43
Todd Burnham 20:43
In life and in your business. So everyone's afraid in the beginning. But if you believe and you leave no doubt that there are no other options, then the only option is to succeed. And that's the next podcast.
Chris Braden 20:57
Success! Burn the ships! That's good stuff, Todd, thanks for sharing the Kobe stuff. That means a lot to me because I have a few heroes out there like that, that if if something like that, I mean, obviously I was sad about Kobe, but I totally get it. I relate everybody does.
Todd Burnham 21:11
Thank you. I remember seeing Kobe Bryant's Muse and I ended up trying to emulate it with the lighting in the black and white and, and this was when I was 200 pounds. So five nine, by the way, and 206 doesn't doesn't sit really well. And I tried to emulate it multiple times. Right. I would have it on video and I'd have professional productions and I could never do it and in the end I think it's pretty easy because there's only one Kobe.
Chris Braden 21:35
Only one Kobe.
Todd Burnham 21:36
There it is.
Chris Braden 21:37
Like we stopped when it wouldn't work. Oh, god damn, it sucks.
Todd Burnham 21:40
I don't look like Kobe, man. It must be the camera. You know? Like it's like the lighting sucks here. Why are you doing this?
Chris Braden 21:47
Look it's your job.
Todd Burnham 21:49
Yeah, dude, this is your fault.
Chris Braden 21:51
Do you have a different lens or something?
Todd Burnham 21:53
Right? It must be that's it. There's it's and it is only one. There's only one. I'm gonna miss him. And I love you Kobe. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Chris Braden 22:03
Good stuff, Todd. Hey, thanks, buddy.
Todd Burnham 22:05
Catch you later.
Hey, thanks for listening. Make sure you subscribe and until next time, keep getting better.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai