"Talent sets the floor, character sets the ceiling" - Bill Belichick
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. Okay, so for the first time in Deep Bench history, we're not going to hear from Todd Burnham, I have the honor of introducing Stephanie Randall, Managing Partner, Colorado Springs. Hey, Stephanie, how are you?
Stephanie Randall 1:24
Hi! I'm also the managing partner of all of the branches, not just Colorado Springs.
Chris Braden 1:27
Now, can you tell me how that works? Because honestly, I don't know. It's Todd, and then a managing partner. How does that work in an organization?
Stephanie Randall 1:34
That's right. So he works on business development and developing himself, which is a full time job in itself.
Chris Braden 1:41
He talks about therapy.
Stephanie Randall 1:42
And then he does that. And sometimes he calls me from therapy and puts me on speakerphone to work about our relationship issues. And then that therapist tells me how good of a communicator I am. I'm just making this up.
Chris Braden 1:53
Is this true?
Stephanie Randall 1:54
No, I'm just kidding.
So we have all of our offices, and I manage the business, the people side of that, logistics, Todd's not a little details person, he gets frustrated with that. And then he sort of devolves into old time highlighter throwing Todd.
Chris Braden 2:12
So Todd talked about how important you are to the firm, and you have a passion for family law. And you came to work for him originally, what was it like at the beginning with Burnham Law?
Stephanie Randall 2:24
The way that I got hired was, I was representing a client who there were actually three attorneys involved in the case. So there were three parties. It was basically a mom and dad, and grandparents, and Todd representing the grandparents. And I was representing the dad and another attorney, that's pretty well respected, was representing the mom. And we were in the middle of negotiations were on the phone, it was getting kind of heated. And he was like, 'Well, what do you have?' And I said, Well, I have, and I cited this case.
Chris Braden 2:53
Stephanie Randall 2:53
That I was gonna rely on. And and he just, like, stopped for a second. He says, Why don't you just come work for me? And I was like, I'm not talking about that right now. So when the case finished, I figured he was just messing with me like messing with my head to get me off of the negotiation. And afterwards, a couple months later, he sends me an email. He's like, where's your resume? And so I sent the resume over. I came in and met with him and the attorneys that he had at the time, which I think there were four. And they were in this little tiny office in Erie, and we were all sitting at this conference table. And I answered questions. And I started my job. And it was like a sweatshop. It was like a law sweatshop. And you could tell. He was very energetic and kind of like loud at times and distracting about, he wanted everything to be excellent and great, but we weren't there, right. And we would all kind of gather in a room with a whiteboard with all the clients names on it and be like, Okay, who's handling this and who's handling Matt. And it was just kind of this craziness.
Chris Braden 3:50
Stephanie Randall 3:51
It was very chaotic. We had, I think four attorneys working at the conference table with their iMacs, like their desktop computers were at the conference room table. And that's where we worked and we would just crank things out. And he he would get very distressed like if things weren't happening the way that they were supposed to. And he would, he literally sent an email once that said, in the subject line, I've seen your hours, come to my office and bring your playbook. And everybody's like, ahhh we're all getting fired. And he sometimes that was how it was it was just very bad energy. But he was agitating. I think he was trying to push for something that we weren't yet.
Chris Braden 4:29
Right. That was at the very beginning of the process. What prompted you to leave? Was it that chaotic feeling of everything going on at that time?
Stephanie Randall 4:39
No, I didn't really mind the chaos, you know, because change makes you uncomfortable. And so you can you can talk to yourself about that. And hey, it's okay because we're growing and changing. And we did we did expand into some little office. And then we opened our first Denver Tech Center office and I went with that group to open that office. And it was kind of crazy because now we had doubled our offices, our staff was in two different places. And it was just work like we were working as much as we possibly could, we're building as much as we possibly could. And Todd was having a hand in day to day cases and details of things. And it was just sort of insane. But I, the reason I left was because I went on a vacation to visit with my family. And I couldn't stop working, I couldn't stop looking at my email, sometimes I couldn't stop working. And I couldn't spend time with the people that I really was there to spend time with. And I was so exhausted by all of it, I had been on the phone with a client who was difficult, who ended up firing me when I was in the airport, on my way to come home. So I spent all this time trying to hold this person's hand and help them and then I'm sitting in the airport waiting for my flight. And I found out that they had hired somebody else. And I was just like, This is not how I want my life to be, I don't want to be able to ever spend time with people that are important to me. I want to be able to be present when I need to be present. And I felt like I couldn't do that. And I thought there has to be a better balance. I don't mind grinding, but I don't, I don't want it to be like this. And it just so happened, somebody had reached out from a firm that I really respect and had said, Hey, we have a position open, we haven't advertised for it yet, we really want you to come. And that's what happened.
Chris Braden 6:31
So as far as being able to turn it off, was it just mentally you just couldn't turn off the work? Like you just didn't have that capacity?
Stephanie Randall 6:40
No, it was Todd. Like he would, he would constantly be calling or texting, like you have to handle this or have to handle that this is blowing up this is on fire. And I it everything was sort of a mess. Like we didn't know how to do all of that. We didn't know how to manage all these cases, we had attorneys that were dropping the ball. And we were trying to figure out, you know, like that, you would realize there would be a deadline, for example, and the person wasn't doing what they were supposed to do. So it was sort of like, well, what do we have to do to fix it? And it was like that all the time. And you had certain people that were strong, and were handling their stuff and handling their cases the way they're supposed to. And then you had people that they just weren't cutting it. They weren't good enough. They weren't. They weren't exceptional. So we were having to make up for that. And when you're on vacation, that's the last thing you should be doing.
Chris Braden 7:27
And it should be vacation.
Stephanie Randall 7:27
Yeah, it's supposed to be but I don't mind checking my email or answering a phone call or that kind of thing. But you shouldn't have to do it the whole time.
Chris Braden 7:35
No, let's talk about the day you left. Did you send an email? Did you call him? How did this happen?
Stephanie Randall 7:40
I've always really respected Todd and you know, we have a friendship, I think beyond our working relationship. So I went and sat down with him. Even though it's in the DTC office, I came up and I think he probably knew it was coming because I said, I want to come talk to you. And I sat down and I just said, look, I've got to have this balance. I, I can't do this, what would just happen, and he was very kind to me. He was respectful of the way that I felt. He kind of gave me a hard time he wanted me to stay. But he understood that it was important to me, and he let me go. And you know, we worked out a notice and handed off cases the way that they're supposed to be handled, and I started the other job.
Chris Braden 8:20
So you leave Burnham Law and you got to the new place? How was it different there? Because obviously you end up coming back? How was it different there?
Stephanie Randall 8:28
Okay. All of the really pretty clear lines that I thought that I wanted, like five year plans and 10 year plans?
Chris Braden 8:37
Yeah, we've talked about that.
Stephanie Randall 8:38
I didn't want that. After all. It was very, like I I needed some equipment or something for some client. And I was like, well, we don't really have that in the budget. And I was like, well, Todd always got me whatever I needed for the case. And I really didn't like those all these kinds of bureaucracy and strings. And I just wanted to be able to have the tools that I needed to get the job done. And they were operating by fear. They were operating by, can we do this? Can we budget that? What's going to be on the horizon. And I wasn't used to that. I had watched Todd, just throwing it all in doing whatever it took. And it didn't sit well. I thought this is old and slow, I'll eventually be a partner but I'm going to burn out and I'm going to lose my passion.
Chris Braden 9:22
Sounds like corporations I've worked for where you just need something small and you think it's no big deal. And next thing you know, it's like you can get it in two months if you need it.
Stephanie Randall 9:29
Right. I wasn't interested in that. Yeah, it really was dampening the fire that I had to be an advocate. I was winning cases. I was preparing. I was going to court and I was killing it. And nobody cared. And that was that was another thing like Todd, he's a really good. He's really good at giving feedback.
Chris Braden 9:46
Like celebrating wins even?
Stephanie Randall 9:48
Yeah, yeah. So I could call Todd at like 10 o'clock at night and be like, I have this awesome thing you know where I just got this order or I just got out of court and this is amazing and he would be really excited. And if I tried to call my paralegal after five, I would get in trouble. So there wasn't anyone to celebrate with. There wasn't a passion in doing the work. And it was a death knell for my passion in my advocacy.
Chris Braden 10:15
So you had that experience. Now you're thinking about coming back Burnham Law? How did that process work?
Stephanie Randall 10:20
So while I was with this other firm, I still kept in contact with Todd. And pretty much every day, he'd be like, okay, just come back, just come back. And I was like, no, no, I really want to do this, I really want to give it a shot. One day, I don't know what brought him to say this. But he said, Stephanie, I've realized some things that, since you've been gone, I've realized that you're the heart of my firm. He didn't mean like the center of my firm, but he's like, You're what brings, like, the compassion and the emotion and the actual heart, the feeling to my firm, and he's like, without you here, I don't have that. And I need you to come back. So that really spoke to me. And I said, Well, if I'm coming back, then we have to put focus on child advocacy, even though it doesn't make money.
Chris Braden 11:03
Stephanie Randall 11:04
And you have to let me do that work. Because it's important to me. And it's important that when we're taking so much that we're giving back, and he said 'you got it', and he has stayed true to that. And it's it's very important to me, and I think it's important for our firm that we spend resources doing that. And that just spoke to me, I think
Chris Braden 11:21
to really, if you look at it, like a broad base, where I would look at it, as most great companies, they do give, that's just part of the culture of a great company typically,
Stephanie Randall 11:31
Right. Well, when you have the resources to do it, you know, sort of that, with great power comes great responsibility. What is it? Is that spider man or Superman?
Chris Braden 11:41
One of them. That's a good one.
Stephanie Randall 11:43
Yeah. But it's true when you have the resources to help your community, whether it's educating or being able to handle something yourself. And we have room for it, because we're doing well in other ways. I think that is our responsibility to do that.
Chris Braden 12:00
So your first experience with Burnham Law, and then you decide to come back besides the giving back and the stuff that you're able to do like the child advocacy and all that stuff. How's it been different since you've been back the second time,
Stephanie Randall 12:13
Todd was true to his word that he had a different focus, actually, that time it was 2015. And I call that the Kobe era.
Chris Braden 12:21
Stephanie Randall 12:21
Because that was when he was trying genuinely to emulate Kobe and to focus himself to not accept failure to push through. And you could see him doing that in his personal life.
Chris Braden 12:34
Stephanie Randall 12:34
He himself was growing, he was focused on helping push other people to grow. And I do mean push other people to grow. He wouldn't accept, if someone, for example, was struggling with alcohol, he could not tolerate it. If they were coming to him saying, I've hit rock bottom, I need some time so that I can get sober and get help. He was supportive. But if it was, I'm dealing with this problem. I'm trying to figure out how to just maneuver it. He would not accept it. They wouldn't be at the firm the next day.
Chris Braden 13:06
Oh, wow. Was this before after the burn the ships email.
Stephanie Randall 13:09
The burning of email happened before I left. Yeah.
Chris Braden 13:12
Okay. So before he left the first time, yeah, burn the ships, email came?
Stephanie Randall 13:16
Yeah, he had sent that out. And at the time, we just all thought that that was so insane. Like, what was he talking about? And, you know, he needed to calm down. But I understand now, what he was telling everyone was probably that he was behind on his mortgage. And he was putting everything he had into making sure that the business was successful. And we couldn't understand the words that he was saying.We weren't living that, right? We were showing up and doing our work and going home with a paycheck. And he was sleeping in his office at the firm.
Chris Braden 13:46
It's kind of funny because Todd and I have talked about Kobe, and we've talked about burn the ships. And for me now that I kind of know context from you. So you get the burn the ships email, and I think that's kind of an evolution to the Kobe.
Stephanie Randall 13:59
Chris Braden 13:59
You know what I mean, you commit and now you kind of have a plan.
Stephanie Randall 14:02
Chris Braden 14:02
I think moving forward,
Stephanie Randall 14:03
I think he didn't know what that meant, where he was going, he knew he was all in and not operating from a place of being afraid. But putting it all on the table. He all of his chips were on the table. And he there was no turning back.
Chris Braden 14:19
Stephanie Randall 14:19
He has to he's gonna be taking care of his family. And he also cared about the people that were working there. Even if they didn't end up staying with the firm. He cares about them and making sure that they become better, but he couldn't accept good enough. He wanted everyone around him to be pushing. And I think that's rare. I don't think you see that a lot. But I got caught up in the passion of that. Because I could see it too. Once I started seeing past the, 'Oh, he's insane because that sounds insane.'
Chris Braden 14:46
Stephanie Randall 14:47
If you put everything you have into it, and you require everyone around you to also do that. There isn't just good enough. Everyone is excellent.
Chris Braden 14:56
That's a good way to put it. So let me ask you this. You're a bulldog in the courtroom, but just sitting here talking to you, I feel like I come talk to you about anything. How do you portray Todd's message to the rest of the staff? Because sometimes Todd can burn hot. How do you explain what Todd said to the rest of the staff that don't communicate that way.
Stephanie Randall 15:17
So part of Todd, stepping back and letting me do the management is that there isn't a whole lot of direct communication between Todd and the staff at this point, okay. And if he does pop up, I think he's he's agitating is what he's doing. He's pushing us to become better to get to the next level. And if people don't really know, Todd, they don't speak Todd's speak, then they don't really know what to make of what he's saying.
Chris Braden 15:39
That's a real thing.
Stephanie Randall 15:40
It is a real thing.
Chris Braden 15:41
Okay. It is I know.
Stephanie Randall 15:43
And I'm pretty good at speaking, Todd. So what usually what I end up saying is, I'll talk to to the teams and say, 'Look, this is what he's looking for, we need to pick things up, we need to push harder, we need this' or we need this quality, or we need to make sure that we're meeting client satisfaction or whatever it is that he's pushing for at the time.
Chris Braden 16:03
So what is it like today?
Stephanie Randall 16:04
So because just because of all the agitation and the separating the chaff from the wheat, we do have all excellent people. And if anybody is struggling with something, as a team, we're able to come together and whether it's like retraining or helping educate or whatever it is, we're able to pull those people up where we didn't have that capacity before because everyone was fumbling around. But from office to office, every attorney and every paralegal and every receptionist and every legal support stuff. It's not that we don't have room to continue pushing and growing. But they are all better than good enough.
Chris Braden 16:40
And you say that proudly.
Stephanie Randall 16:41
I am proud of it. I don't I we know our competitors. And I'm not saying that there's not great attorneys out there, because there are really good attorneys out there. But we have amassed a collection of VIPs. And they're all in it. They're passionate about their work. They're passionate about their advocacy for clients. The paralegals are invested in being part of a team that moves cases forward and gets goals accomplished. I just don't think that that happens most of the time. You have a VIP or two. But all of our attorneys are excellent.
Chris Braden 17:12
That's really awesome. Well, Stephanie, it was awesome to talk to you.
Stephanie Randall 17:15
Thanks for having me on.
Chris Braden 17:16
Do you have any closing wisdom for us?
Stephanie Randall 17:18
Todd does know what he's talking about. He probably loves Kobe, a little bit too much. But he has inspired me to be better in my personal life. And I think that he has a lot of wisdom to impart. He's built and thought a lot about it in his own life. And I think it's totally worth hearing what he has to say and trying to apply it to your own goals.
Chris Braden 17:40
So Todd loves Kobe, I love this. Do you have an inspiration of somebody that you try to emulate?
Stephanie Randall 17:46
Well, I'm a Christian. So I don't want to go religious on Todd's program. But I tried very much to emulate Christ in my life and to think about what kind of compassion he would have for people and to understand shortcomings that people have and to have grace with people when they fail. I don't have a sports inspiration. I'm sorry.
Chris Braden 18:05
Well, that's great stuff. Grace is important and you epitomize that.
Stephanie Randall 18:08
Chris Braden 18:09
Awesome. Well, thanks, Stephanie.
Todd Burnham 18:13
Hey, thanks for listening. Make sure you subscribe, and until next time, keep getting better
Transcribed by https://otter.ai