We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Oden and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Michael, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Due to past personal experiences, I researched and learned about human behavior for years. What I learned I decided to apply to my work as a probation officer. I decided to use my new found techniques on my clients who happened to be chronic alcohol and drug offenders. The years passed and I began applying these newly learned behavioral methods to over 6500+ clients. After about 7 years there was this serendipitous discovery that came from the interviews. I continued to uncover a bottom line with my clients which had to do with what specific needs were not met during childhood and how those unmet needs impacted their future behavior. In 2009 I met my business partner Alina Ugas who shared my same common interest in human behavior. At this time, I was getting ready to get my masters in psychology and now learning even more tools to help my clients. Alina is a serial entrepreneur and suggested we start a practice where we can assist those who are suffering from addiction. This was also her passion due to losing a brother to AIDS Dementia and a father to Cirrhosis. It was at this juncture that we created the 7-7-Step System to Self-Discovery, Awareness, and Empowerment methodology called the Needs-Based Method®. The clients appreciated what they heard and learned and highly suggested that I teach others this method of behavior change. I thought to myself that if this modality can impact the lives of these individuals imagine what do we can do to take it to a larger market. After some trial and error of who would benefit the most from this methodology, we configured our program to be used for various personal and professional developmental agendas. Such as small businesses, CEO’s, law enforcement officers, and supporting staff. We knew if we could get government agencies (law enforcement) and private corporations to learn more about specific situations, how and why people communicate, and what needs they are requiring in the moment, then having those answers solve many conflicts that arise in the work environment and will de-escalate friction with the community. 

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Final Step International Inc. is a personal and professional development company that improves communication while reducing conflict, building peer trust in the workplace, and increase the companies bottom line. Final Step International Inc. is great at making sense of complicated situations be it personal, relational, and business(workplace), in a short period of time. What people and organizations respect about our process is that it is so easy to understand and apply to their own lives and the workplace. Clients are amazed about how our program is able to come up with solutions to specific problems that have caused conflict in one’s life as well as in the workplace. At Final Step International Inc., we offer decades of understanding of the human experience with over 40k hours of session time with clients. We published a book and workbook called “When Nobody’s Home”, and a workbook, and created our own integrated and comprehensive behavioral shift modality called The Needs Based Method(R), Final Step International Inc. makes sense of limiting beliefs, past trauma, and diminishing behavior using our self-developed method The Needs-Based Method® and our 7 – Step System to Behavior Shif. We do something very unique in our industry in that we eliminate many of the problems individuals and organizations possess due to the impacts of how people often view themselves, their situation, and in cases having imposter syndrome. Due to past personal experiences, I researched and learned about human behavior for years. What I learned I decided to apply to my work as a probation officer. I decided to use my newly discovered techniques on my clients who happened to be chronic alcohol and drug offenders. The years passed and I began applying these behavioral methods to over 6500+ clients. After about 7 years there was this serendipitous discovery that came from the interviews. I continued to uncover a bottom line with my clients which had to do with what specific needs were not met during childhood and how those unmet needs impacted their future behavior. I understood how childhood trauma impacts future behaviors and generations. In 2009, I met my business partner Alina Ugas who shared my same common interest in human behavior. At this time, I was getting my master’s in counseling psychology and learning more tools to help my clients. Alina is a serial entrepreneur and suggested we start a practice where we can assist those who are suffering from addiction. This was also her passion due to losing a brother to AIDS Dementia and a father to Cirrhosis. It was at this juncture that we created the 7–Step System to Self-Discovery, Awareness, and Empowerment methodology called the Needs-Based Method®. The clients appreciated what they heard and learned and highly suggested that I teach others this method of behavioral change. I thought to myself that if this modality can impact the lives of these individuals, imagine what we can do to take it to a larger market. After some trial and error of who would benefit the most from this methodology, we configured our program to be used for various personal and professional development agendas. Such as small businesses, CEO’s, law enforcement officers, and supporting staff. We knew if we could get government agencies (law enforcement) and private corporations to learn more about specific situations, how and why people communicate, and what needs they are requiring at the moment, then having those answers solve many conflicts that arise in the work environment and will de-escalate friction with the community. I learned along the way of being a business owner that I, Michael Oden, am not a gifted businessman. I am a gifted teacher. It is difficult for me to get into sales, marketing, and branding. However, I have learned to change my mindset and do those responsibilities that I don’t find natural. Alina has the ability to run the business naturally. She knows what the business needs such as marketing, branding, dealing with vendors, setting up speaking engagements, etc. My ability to get into the nuts and bolts has improved. I still have a ways to go above and beyond. To be honest with ourselves our business is not where we want to be. We believed we would be further along in our journey than we predicted. Operating our business is a constant learning process about how to market ourselves, brand ourselves, where to spend money on the business among other business responsibilities. We make mistakes but we learn. So we keep doing our best to get out into the world. We know the sun will rise tomorrow and it is time to fight the good fight. The world needs to know our business was born from the passion to help others. Alina and I did not come from your typical upbringing. I come from a family of 10 siblings. Within my family that breaks down to 8 boys, 2 girls, 1 with Down Syndrome, and a set of twins. In addition to my immediate family, my mother started a group home that would entertain 172 group home for boys and 1 girl over a thirteen-year period. It was at the age of 9 that had my experience with a stranger from the outside world. I remember he was a 17-year-old white teenager with long hair named Rocky. I didn’t understand why he was here, all I remember is he was another playmate. There were more and more of these individuals and as I got older I began to ask my mother questions about their reason for being here with us. My mother would explain the abuse they had received as children. She explained to me about not having another parent, especially the father. As the years went by I would continue to gain more understanding of the generation of group home boys as they came and went. The stories my mother told me about this population would get more painful and disturbing. As an adolescent and a teen, I now understood that people from painful experiences and their lives are forever changed, mostly for the worst. This experience may have impacted my adult journey, years later, to inspire and see others fulfill their potential. I understand that everyone has a history or experience that has impacted them for the better or for worse. It was a journey to help individuals, couples, family-owned businesses, executives to discover and fulfill their potential. Alina’s experiences began at the age of nine in Cuba, she was a contributing author in the book “Own Your Dreams where she talks about her experience and gives hope to others on overcoming childhood trauma. When her family took a twelve-hour train ride from Santiago north to Havana. It was exciting for her to be on the train because it was the first time she had ever left the province or even our part of the island. She recalls staring at the countryside, trees, and mountains that she had never seen before. As much as she enjoyed it, she still didn’t want to be away from home. We left everything, including my mother’s parents; she knew she would never be able to hug her mother, dad, or siblings again because of her choice to follow my father’s dream. Alina recalls her mother’s family was part of the Communist regime and made it very clear that if she left the country, they would have nothing to do with her. They disowned her for her decision. After arriving in Los Angeles and meeting my father’s family in Torrance, we saw very little of him. My next hurdle was learning the English language. I learned a hard and painful lesson that the languages were very different. Our brand, Final Step International Inc, (FSI) stands for the final step an individual needs to take to heal, become empowered, to find their inner hero. FSI wants nothing more than to empower people and organizations to be the best version of themselves and to break generational roadblocks.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If a friend werek to come to the Los Angeles area I always have in mind to give them an experience. I want them to see “everything” from Rodeo Dr to “tent” city. My first stop would be an evening on Sunset Boulevard, Melrose Blvd, and Santa Monica to walk the streets shop and dine on the sidewalks. Walk Hollywood Blvd to walk on the stars and watch the people. Drive to Beverly Hills and look at the interesting neighborhood. We would eat at some fancy restaurants to various holes in the wall. I want them to experience the LA nightlife, the traffic and the whole concrete jungle that goes for miles. When they go back home they will have something to remember LA for what it really is. Monday: afternoon: lunch on Melrose evening dinner Boa’s (steak) on Sunset…..possible star sighting Tuesday: Morning: a trip to Tent city in downtown LA to see the other side of society Afternoon: Lunch at “Pink’s” hotdog stand. Evening: Take a theatrical production in downtown LA at the Dorothy Chandler or Disney Concert hall Wednesday: Morning: Breakfast at the Pantry in downtown LA Afternoon: Drive the 101 to Santa Barbara and have lunch Evening: Drive the 405 to experience the traffic Thursday: Afternoon: Evening: Wine tasting in Temecula Friday: Afternoon: Griffith Observatory Evening: Hollywood Blvd; Saturday: Morning: Breakfast at the Promenade in Santa Monica Afternoon: Venice Beach Sunday: Morning: Afternoon: Drive to San Diego, CA, and spend the day. Monday: Drive to the airport for the early morning flight.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Alina Ugas my business partner and The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) is a system to measure and describe thinking preferences in people, developed by William “Ned” Herrmann. I am a certified practitioner of this instrument. And believe it or not, the fact that I had cancer allowed me the time to write and publish my first book titled “When Nobody’s Home” while I was going through chemotherapy.

Website: https://www.finalstepinternational.com/
Instagram: @Finalstepint
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/final-step-international
Twitter: @michaelodenlive
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/finalstepinternational
Yelp: Final Step international
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCW1LT1HccU6-MVJZZCoDU-A?view_as=subscriber
Other: We have a joint venture with CheckUps. A supervision cloud-based, a real-time app for probationers to check in with their probation officers.

Image Credits
All these are our pictures either providing community services or events that we have presented. Checkups is our new business venture.

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