Study the Tape

about this episode

“On a team, it's not the strength of the individual players, but it is the strength of the unit and how they all function together." - Bill Belichick

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 awesome. Hey, so we talked about? We've had a lot of episodes here.

Todd Burnham 1:19
So you said you're doing awesome. Like, is that

Chris Braden 1:21
I'm always doing awesome.

Todd Burnham 1:22
so is that why you named your business Sounds Awesome?

Maybe, right? Maybe other people just say it to me all the time because I sound awesome?


Chris Braden 1:30
And I didn't even put that I didn't even self gloss myself.

Todd Burnham 1:33
Here to help.

Chris Braden 1:34
So the question is, you run Burnham Law? Like it's like a sports team? Because sports teams are basically businesses. It's basic business at a high, high level.

Todd Burnham 1:46
Yeah. And you're dealing with human beings that are put in positions to succeed based on their talent levels, right? Why wouldn't everyone do this? Why wouldn't they?

Chris Braden 1:54
Well, why wouldn't they? And I think the cool thing about it is if I think about a law firm as kind of a sports team, so after every game sports teams watch the tape, they evaluate what they did, well, most of the time, they evaluate what didn't go well. But even more than that, at the end of the season, they evaluate what they did well, and what they didn't do well, whether it's personnel or plays, coaching, they're always evaluating. And I think really, as a law firm, you could do that same thing annually, but also case by case, each one of the attorneys could be like, What did I do? Well, in that case, that I could do better next time and things like that. So how do you evaluate that kind of thing?

Todd Burnham 2:37
Wow. Okay, so this is a great, great episode to talk about weaknesses. Sure. And so if anyone's watching tape of Sunday's game, one, they have to be an authority on what they're talking about. And so we do that all the time. Like before, it was, I was meeting with other lawyers, and I'm saying, Okay, well, how'd you do this? And what can we do better, but over time, you realize that, oh, man, like, that lawyer is really good. And my time is being spent building the business, I'm not in the shit, right them. And so over a period of time, it kind of transition that I wanted to were like self evaluating. And then I also, you know, and what you could do better in this case, and we do that all the attorneys and paralegals do that on a regular basis. They do that every week. What does this case need, we're evaluating we're adding value. But at some point, I looked at this and I said, Wow, attracting talent, people that are committed to their crafts, and it's my job not to be the best lawyer that I can be. It's to be the best manager that I could be. And to get people in that are going to support these people with town. And I just, I just started building a team without even knowing it. And so when you're looking at your studying tape, you're looking for ways to improve. And during that process, I just started looking at myself more and more, alright, well, I shouldn't be so reactionary on this, or there's a better way to give people constructive criticism. And so over a period of time, I just started looking at like, wow, this. That's not effective. That's what it was like a year ago, you have to get better. And so I went to therapy. Now people can look, I went to therapy with marriage counseling and everything, I want to get better. And especially when you when you have it and you have adrenaline to get better, then I'm like, I want to get better now. So I have a sense of urgency that permeates throughout the firm. I think we talked about culture, that when people call, I want their calls return. I want you too want to call that person back fast. Right? That's what I'm talking about. It's not what I'm saying. It's that you agree with it, and you're part of it. And as Stephanie said about the passion in the firm She bought into it. So when I'm looking at studying tape, I first have to look at myself, and what am I good at? What do I need improvement in? And it really became from a move from being an attorney looking at the tape to managing, how can I be an effective leader. And it required me to commit 100%.

Chris Braden 5:21

Todd Burnham 5:21
To building the firm and working on the firm, and not in the firm, but while still being a point of contact for potential new clients who want to call us. So I'm still invested in that. But from a generally conceived idea of, I want to be great at something. It morphed, because I didn't have the business plan. I just went where it was supposed to go. And I think that analyzing your strengths and weaknesses is critical. Hiring people that inherently want to get better, is rare. Finding people who are exceptionally talented at certain things, is, you know, you're striking, you got Lightning in a Bottle. And the thing that I always came back to was Bill Belichick. Don't tell me what I don't do well, tell me what, what I'm good at. Don't tell me where I need to improve, tell me what I'm really good at. And then let's try to get great at that.

Chris Braden 6:18

Todd Burnham 6:18
Instead of be better than just good enough, that I'd have to work at getting good enough or someone else to that impact. So an example of this is Karen Priestley, she is a hard worker who works extremely well, with potential new clients on the phones, because she actually cares. And she really listens. And she wants to help. She was hired in a different capacity altogether. And so it's in that kind of situation, you're looking at taping, you're saying, wait a second, I know her, she is exceptional at this. We hired her for that. But we're cool, right? We're better than this. We're not like, you know, just we have to stick in the straight line. And the resulting of just getting the feel of that, and seeing how much she's grown into that position to the point where she's just a natural leader, because she loves it. That is, is really what you're looking for.

So you took one player from one position and moved him to a position where they can be successful. And you talk about Bill Belichick his roster is littered with players that have gotten cut or didn't have chances. Yeah, things of that nature. Because absolutely what you're talking about, he has one particular thing he's looking for, for that position. And that's what he goes and gets,

Okay, their strengths, like this guy can run for 240. Right? But he can't catch. Right? So maybe he's on special teams or something. So I look at those things. And Belichick really is kind of, you know, he's like the evil empire as far as I'm concerned and being in Denver, but you can't help but respect the way that he leads individuals. And in his father was in the military, you know, he coached an army, so I can see it. He says, Do your job, right, just do your job. That's how the army works. Exactly. And they're not making 14 million. A soldier isn't making that. So the ability to be able to handle people's intricacies and personalities understand that they're all full of character because they're here, but to maximize their talents, so they feel appreciated, and they feel valued. That's what you get when you are paying attention. And that's what I'm most proud of.

Chris Braden 8:44
So when you're a business owner that you wear a ton of hats.

Todd Burnham 8:47
Oh, my God, I mean,

Chris Braden 8:49
watching the tape on marketing hiring. I mean, we've talked about how you've opened opposite offices, and you have to grow some and you have to like bring some back a little bit.

Todd Burnham 9:01

Chris Braden 9:02
So what are some of the like things that you've learned by watching the tape, like on marketing, for example, we talked about how you can go out there. And if you have a crappy call to action, or you don't have someone answering the phones, right, you can spend all your marketing budget and get no clients out of it?

Todd Burnham 9:18
Well, because you have to know where you're at.

Chris Braden 9:20

Todd Burnham 9:21
Think you're something that you're not. And so if you if you're new to in law, and you want to start a business, and you're going to be the expert on wills, you can't go out there and say I'm the best at wills, because that will get the first client but you're lying. And that doesn't build trust.

Chris Braden 9:39

Todd Burnham 9:39
And that's what you're after. I want people to know that if I say this person is at Burnham Law, and they are exceptional at x, that I am telling the truth, because if it comes out that I'm not telling the truth, then anything I say is crap. And if anything I say is crap. Then I need to find someone else to be the head person because I've hurt the company. And so everything that I do now, any before, if it's like, we're pushing that we want aggressive representation. Yes, at that point I was that was my wheelhouse. I knew, for example, I was really good at representing women that were victims of domestic violence. It was my comfort zone. So I feel like yeah, I'm the best at that.

Chris Braden 10:23

Todd Burnham 10:24
And so but if I'm saying, Well, sure, I can also handle your qualified domestic relations order. I have Eric Amat y Leon, who's an expert at that, right. I wasn't marketing that. So you've got to make sure that at the core of everything that you're doing in terms of marketing, there's truth. And you can't bullshit yourself, don't fall into that ego trap, or say, I'm great at this. No, man, you're not.

Chris Braden 10:48

Todd Burnham 10:48
You don't want 10 testimonials telling everyone in the world that you're not. That's the problem. So if you're telling the truth, and you have conviction, and you know, what you're saying is accurate, you have nothing to be worried about.

That's the beauty of putting together a really good team and not being a lone wolf.

And well, and that's the thing they're in so you can have talented people that come in and that apply for a job here. And I've been doing this and I'm that and I'm so awesome at this. And I'm like, yeah, man, have a good one. It doesn't seem like you're willing to acknowledge that you lack a little humility. Why don't you work on that, first of all.

Chris Braden 11:24

Todd Burnham 11:25
And if you'd lack humility, then you're not open to growing. And honestly, that's what this place is about. We are not where we're going to be in a year from now, we're always with me at the helm, we're always going to have the mindset of always getting better.

Chris Braden 11:41

Todd Burnham 11:41
And that might show up in like, little, little different ways. But I think in the end, that's how you maintain a level of excellence, is to always be honest with yourself, and especially your evaluation process of the people in the firm that you have. For me. The thing that I think that I am exceptional at at this point, is recognizing talent, knowing who has those traits of incredible work ethic, combined with passion and knowledge. I'm not someone that knows the intricacies necessarily of every aspect of personal injury. But unlike family law, where you're going to have this, you know, the kind of nuanced approach. Personal injury to me is straight up. That is not accurate. I'm not going to accept that settlement.

Chris Braden 12:32

Todd Burnham 12:32
I'm going to fight what is owed to me. I'm already pissed thinking about personal injury, right?

Chris Braden 12:38
Yeah, right.

Todd Burnham 12:38
That's me. Right? And so I want someone that has that passion for fighting for people to a point that they will take their last dying breath to reach the impartial fairness that is just and determined to do stuff.

Chris Braden 12:54
That's like Erin Brockovich.

Todd Burnham 12:55
It's exactly right. I'm telling you, man, but if you can find those people, and you can put them in a position to succeed, and you're building a team. And that's a that is what I know I'm good at.

Chris Braden 13:11
So word to the wise. Go watch your tape and get better right?

Todd Burnham 13:15
Watch a tape get better if you can't get some therapy. And be humble but hungry.

Chris Braden 13:21
Good stuff, Todd.

Todd Burnham 13:22
Catch you later. Hey, thanks for listening. Make sure you subscribe and until next time, keep getting better.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai