Dana Safa Bernardino
On this episode of the Bring It In podcast, 1Huddle’s CEO and Founder, Sam Caucci, engages in a conversation with Todd Burnham, author of Comeback: Epic Rebound Strategies for Business or Personal Adversity.
Todd shares a personal journey of resilience and triumph. He discusses his firsthand encounters with overcoming adversity, reflecting on his life as a 51-year-old man residing in Boulder, Colorado. His journey includes marrying his college sweetheart, leading to a family of five. Starting a law firm in 2009 from his basement, Todd narrates his path to success fueled by a combination of luck, hard work, and a network of talented individuals who share his vision. The law firm, which started as a small endeavor, has now evolved into Colorado’s largest domestic relations law firm.
Comeback, Todd’s book, echoes themes of transforming adversity into triumph, drawing insights from his personal experiences to provide actionable strategies for individuals navigating challenges.
Audio available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.
Below are some of the insights Todd Burnham shared during our chat, edited for length and clarity. You can find more Bring It In podcast episodes here.
Sam Caucci: I am going to kick it to you, Todd. Why don’t you give us your elevator, tell us a little bit about yourself. We’ll start us off.
Todd Burnham: I’m a, I’m a 51 year old man living in Boulder, Colorado. Married my college girlfriend, 13 years later. Have a family of five, started a law firm in the basement in 2009 coming out here. And with a lot of luck and hard work and talented people around me, that are attracted to what we’re about. We’ve brought, I think, the biggest domestic relations law firm in Colorado. And we’re about to start partnering at different levels, on a national level with premium players. So, you know, we’re really at the point now where, we’re seeing the future and we want to be that. And so, even though I feel like we are at the top of our game, I just wanna keep going, Sam. That’s my thing.
Sam: I love it. Yeah. Listen, I read through the book twice, so I read it, and I like ripped books apart, so I read through, and it’s in shambles. I say that because there’s a lot of markups around it, which is a good thing. Why don’t you tell us? I’d love to know. Why don’t you share with the audience about the book and maybe why you wrote Comeback?
Todd: Man, you know, I was raised by a single mom, a social worker in the south side of Syracuse in New York. And I’m a grinder, right? And, I moved to Fayetteville, which is in the outs, you know, the suburbs and everything about it was, you know, that’s where I was introduced to lacrosse and competitive sports, and focus and drive and, I see our clients. I just kept seeing that we were giving them really good services, but we’re also leaving them right at the end, like, okay, we were hopefully successful and good luck.
These people just went through the most traumatic time of their lives. And no matter what it is, a pressure packed divorce with kids, your car was T-boned, you’re arrested for a D U I, or you’re sued by your contractor. I mean, all of these things are traumatic to different people. And I felt like as I was watching people, we crush cases for people and these people weren’t feeling that in their lives. They overcame something, but the toll that it took was devastating. And, and I just kind of felt helpless. And we are really service focused.
Sam I’m a product of my mother who’s a social worker for New York State for 30 years. And, she was all about service and it’s just, you know, that’s just who I am. If we’re gonna be of service, I wanna be the fucking best. So, I wrote a book instead and I, and I wrote it after watching all of these people go through adversity, from the beginning of a divorce case to the end. I see most people are just struggling, right? They’re just trying to get through. They’re surviving. And I saw others that were thriving and I’m like, wait a second, this is kind of like Napoleon Hill thinking grow rich.
You know? I’m watching these people and I’m seeing what are the commonalities between all of them and, I saw that there was six things that they all had in common. I just got really focused and motivated to share it. And so now we give this book to all of our people, and I think it impacts their lives. So I’m really proud of it.
Sam: Yeah. I started 1Huddle and I haven’t even talked about this, but I started 1Huddle because I grew up watching my mom. I grew up in a blue-collar family where you send the boy to school, not the girl. I grew up in that time kind of time. And my mom was a legal secretary for 52 years. I always said she knew more than most of the lawyers, but she just didn’t have the opportunity as others. So your story resonates about your mom and your commitment to service.
Todd: Appreciate that. Thank you.
Sam: The six traits of those that benefit adversity, I think that’s a really strong core of the book. Can you talk to us about those?
Todd: I’m a recovered alcoholic, so number one is pretty easy for me. I identified with it and you gotta hit the bottom. And, and this is the, this is the trick for me is that, you know, the things that come after hitting bottom in that mentality are the things that really matter to me.
I’ve started to use, like, a different approach, similar to how Michael Jordan would. He’d create these, you know, beefs with people. So, you know, you don’t have to hit rock bottom, but you want to have the mindset that you’re desperate, right?
You have to change something. So, to knock out these steps.
Sam: Yeah. Let’s do it. Yeah. Walk us through them.
Todd: The first one is hitting bottom, mentally, not physically. Embrace desperation; it’s your friend. It’s the accelerator, right?
Get your mind right. Everything about this is mental. I believe 90% of this is mental—the way you think about things and approach them. Move. Get your body going. Your mind and body are connected. I found that as I move, as I continue to grow, my business also grows.
I became a healthier person, and there’s a connection between movement, mentality, and success, I believe. Number five is stacking bricks—acknowledging small victories, maintaining a positive mindset. And then, immerse yourself.
For number six, fully engage yourself in a new way of thinking. That’s what I observed these individuals doing. I began piecing these aspects together, following the same path, and I thought, “Let’s go! It’s great.”
Sam: I think the “stack bricks” piece is so important. You know, I think we live in a world where we’re so outcome-driven. Unfortunately, you, you know, do a lot on the sports side which you haven’t even talked about yet. But, you know, living in a world where you’re coaching young people, which is the future of our workforce.
Sam: That model of focusing. Less attention on the scoreboard and more on behaviors. That’s how I interpreted it. Tell me what you think, I interpreted stacking bricks means finding and staying where your feet are. Focus on things within control. Build positive momentum but, man that’s hard. That’s hard to coach and teach. I don’t want to say it’s easy, but it’s hard to get people’s eyes off the scoreboard, isn’t it?
Todd: Ground balls, win games. Ground balls wins games. Right.
Sam: I like it.
Todd: So, that’s not mine. That’s Casey Powell’s. When you start looking at things from a perspective of measuring differently, trying to see actual effort. I was thinking today about rock climbers, like when you start rock climbing or something, your hands are the same thing you do in lacrosse.
You start doing reps, and you start with a lacrosse stick. You’re terrible at it. But the more you do something, the more you practice, the more reps you have, you hone that muscle, and that muscle, here, is your mentality and outlook towards yourself.
Recognize that: I woke up at 5:15 for 5:45 yoga, sweating it out. Three wins there. Not just one. One, I told myself no negotiation, I’m getting up. Two, I found the yoga mat (a win in my house). Three, I went. Four, I experienced it. Five, I came home with momentum. Six wins, stacking bricks in an hour and a half. That’s how I start my day, my choice to view it that way.
Not like, “Oh my God, I got up.” Can’t believe I had to get up at 5:15. This is my life. I am the… What is it? Nelson Mandela’s favorite… His favorite point. I’m the master of my… Not sure what it is, but Invictus is the poem.
Sam: Yeah. Master of my Destiny.
Todd: “I’m the master of my family, captain” So, those are the kind of things that inspire me. I think about them daily, and they motivate me to come in and lead in an uplifting, positive, and badass manner—let’s go, service business.
Sam: What do we get wrong about adversity? I’ll set this up. It feels like in our current moment, we often try to shield ourselves from adversity. For example, I take my daughter to the park, and I remember when I was young, the ground was concrete. Now it’s covered in ten inches of foam. We’ve created environments where we don’t even feel the ground when we hit it. So, what do we get wrong about adversity today?
Todd: I think that adversity is a positive thing. I mean, because change is good, right? Change is not reacting to things, it’s accepting where it is. It’s kind of Bruce Lee’s adversity. You’re going with it. And so if you can lean into adversity and recognize that it’s a catalyst of change and an accelerator for growth, then you look forward to it. So, adversity in a business could be letting go five different people who are not performing.
And, making the decision is gonna hurt us, in the short term, we lose people. But overall the morale of the company increases because these people weren’t pulling their weight. Right? That’s gonna be short-term adversity, but long-term lemonade, where you make lemons out of lemonade and if you have that mentality, that’s an athlete’s mindset and growth mindset.
I don’t think adversity is a four-letter word. I think it’s an accelerator. So I look forward to adversity.
Sam: In writing the book and as people have read it, what has surprised you the most about the reactions you’ve received from them?
Todd: Nothing has really surprised me. People are more like, “Wow, I didn’t know that about you.” People have identified with it. They’ve said it helped and changed their lives. That surprises me because it’s just my story, and I’m saying, “Hey, this is how we use adversity, man.”
Like, we can come back stronger if you get your mind right. And it really comes down to that, you don’t have to read the book or play the game. Just get your mind right. So, I’m not surprised by anything anymore. I’m just happy to witness it and appreciate that it’s helping people.
I’m not out there like on a book tour or anything. I’m really wanted to serve our clients and other people that need it. So yeah, I don’t really have any expectations with it.
Sam: I found that when you go through the process of writing a book, it’s a huge feat. When you go through it, there are chapters that flow the easiest because they are generally the ones that you’re the most passionate about as the author. Then there are the ones you have to write, but you might have to kind of grind through them. You had to go through the grind, right? Of writing them because you know, you gotta get ’em. What was the most fun part of the book to write that you felt just poured out of you when you did it?
Todd: It was steps one, two, and three. Hit bottom. I’ve hit bottom many times in my life. Embracing desperation is just one of those things that I believe in now after practicing in Colorado for 15 years and 20 years overall and becoming a businessman with a law degree. As a result of that desperation. I then realized that the truth of everything, that it all resides from a performance perspective of getting your mind right.
And then after that, it was like, okay, now we need to delve into some more components that are like building up. I’m really adept at reaching the stage where it’s like, alright, we’ve aligned our mindsets, and we’re driven. Let’s go. But then, you know, I’m a big-picture person, so the micro pieces of this are what take me a bit more time.
Sam: Yeah. The “Immerse Yourself” segment, you know, that was, as I’ve heard you discuss what you’re implementing in your business regarding service. It’s not typical that you associate a legal firm with service as a core principle, you know, in what you’re aiming to achieve every day.
A question for you and for anybody out there that’s listening, maybe a manager, a leader inside of an organization, but perhaps lacking the control you have over Burnham Law. They’re not the C-level executives that can make choices and decisions. I’m talking about that middle manager leader out there listening. I want you to coach them up here for a second. Like, what would you say to them about the importance of service and why, regardless of the environment you’re in, you need to have a service mentality? What would be something you’d say to those people? Because people are listening, Todd, from restaurants, hospitality, retail, sports, all different environments.
Todd: Yeah. First of all, during college, I worked at the Olive Garden. So I understand the service industry; I’ve spent a lot of time in it, and I learned from it. You get more tips with the better service that you provide, generally speaking, right? The key is that if you focus on service, the profits come because if you focus on being the best, you don’t have to market that. The performance piece, mindset, and focus on service are the catalysts for growth. If you focus on marketing or if you’re focusing on human resources or ROI focus, and not service-focused, you’ll sustain, but you won’t grow because you’ll always have to market yourself. The results won’t consistently be centered around being exceptional. So if you’re focused on the service piece and your department or your division is just dialed, then it’s inevitable.
Sam, one of the things in my life that I look for is consistent universal truths. You know, that’s what I want to do. Now, it’s like, what’s the truth? You know? What are the things that lead from A to B to C? And what I’ve realized at any level is that the work you put in results in performance output, and with the mindset piece and performance, that’s optimization. And that’s undeniable and you will get noticed no matter where you’re at.
Sam: Love it. I have one final question for you, Todd. One of the stories in the book that really spoke to me was the story of Malik. Malik, being a guy that you worked with, went to prison. And when he came out, he went to culinary school. I think about that because when you think about adversity, we all have different experiences, and we all find ourselves in this position. I think also about the future of work, which is kind of the topic of the podcast. I want to ask you, what’s your hope for the future of work?
Todd: Well, my hope for the future of work is that, well, and I’ll talk from a law firm perspective. From a service, I guess it all is, it is service-based, right, Sam? I want the future of work to be this. I want there to be two levels of efficiencies and optimization because that’s the focus, you want to be optimized.
If you’re not optimized, then it’s like an athlete that’s going to eat Oreos before they go on and play in the Olympics and then, they’re doing a hundred-meter dash, right? So you can have the most efficiencies at one level where your processes are dialed in, but if you’re not optimizing the people and making them level up through coaching or level up through the culture of the work or level up in general, then you have half of a business because you can have all the systems and processes.
Then if that’s the only thing you optimize, you’re gonna have low morale, poor culture. Right? The optimization, the future of work in my mind is the optimization of processes and people to be a fully optimized business, which is then the most service-focused because it’s going to allow you to spend the time investing in the client and not the administrative piece.
If you follow. The thing for me, for example, the future of our work is we’re using games to level up our people in terms of anything that’s important to us. We did just the, you know, the other day for the intakes department is who moved my cheese. That’s what I see the future of work being Sam. I think it’s a lot of the stuff that you’re doing and I think that gamifying learning is the future of work, like I’m all in with it because I see it and this is what I do.
Sam: I love it. I mean, yeah. Hey, who doesn’t like a game? And a little bit of adversity in a game is a good thing.
I think. You know there’s a lot of what you talk about in the book that I found myself nodding my head at. That, you know, I think is so important and I think you did a phenomenal job making it accessible to really anybody. You know, there’s so many times a book gets tunnel vision on a specific industry, or a specific role, or a specific gender, or a specific culture. I mean the book, I think anybody can really pick it up and is gonna walk away with like a pretty big takeaway, that they may be able to put in daily.
Todd: Hey, look, I appreciate it and I appreciate what you do Sam, because you know, Burnham Law is focused on optimizing our processes and our people, and I was inspired by, you know, for that from you.
I like what you’re doing, man. I think it’s innovative. I think you’re a thought leader and I’m honored to be on your podcast.
Sam: I appreciate you, Todd. Thanks for joining.
Todd: All right. Right on, man. You be good.
Topics Discussed: Future of Work, Culture, Skills, Work, Coaching, Leadership, Adversity, Mindset
Dana Safa Bernardino, Manager of Digital Marketing at 1Huddle
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