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Meet Ariel Weindling of NotMe Solutions (aka #NotMe) in West-Side

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ariel Weindling.

Ariel is an LA-based employment lawyer, immigrant, advocate for equality, safety, and workplace transparency, and founder of #NotMe, an open, mobile, resolution-seeking reporting platform, offering support and psychological safety to people so they can report organizational misconduct or share feedback with their organizations on a range of issues.

In the wake of #MeToo and working on misconduct cases, Ariel realized the system was in need of a paradigm shift. Misconduct is not an HR problem; it is a people problem. Thus, he created #NotMe: for victims, companies, and witnesses, regardless of their position of power. The resolution-seeking app brings power back to the people who have experienced – or perceived – an injustice and are ready to stand up and say #NotMe! The recent COVID-19 crisis has given Ariel and his company a larger purpose and a new mission. #NotMe is pivoting to be inclusive in other spaces where reporting can help to make things safer for people.

Ariel has a vision of a world in which his own children will inherit a workplace environment that is safe and equal. Ariel is also a principal at Empower Law PC, a law firm he created with his partner and friend Dominic Messiha.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

I am an immigrant from France. I moved to the US when I was 21 to continue my legal education and follow my dream of becoming a lawyer. Everyone back home told me I was crazy, as I was not speaking English at the time.

I went to law school, then took the NY bar, failed and decided to take the California one. People told me I was even crazier as apparently the California bar was harder than the NY one. I took it and passed.

Then I told my friends I was going to find a job in a big law firm. And again people told me I was crazy. My French accent when I was speaking English was – according to them – way too heavy for people in big and reputable firms to hire me. This was in 2005 and the culture of political correctness was not as strong as it has been recently.

Not only did I become a lawyer in a reputable and great firm, but I did well. I had a unique talent for business development (that none of my peers had) and got to do a lot of great things for and with this firm. I then went into business with a friend, we had a few struggles, and I then went back to the practice of law in one of the best LA-based law firms. I left that role to focus on developing #NotMe in an effort to offer a useful platform to help people and organizations become safer in the growing #MeToo world.

When I decided to create #NotMe, people again told me that I was crazy (a running theme in my life now). They told me there was no way this would work, and it was impossible to do. But since I had heard it before, I nevertheless pursued my vision for #NotMe. The only green light I needed was the one from my wife, which thankfully she granted. And after two years, #NotMe is doing a lot of good and making great strides for a young startup. Although the road has not been smooth and has taken a lot of work, resilience, and determination, I remain passionate about the great impact that we are making for people and organizations. Nothing great comes easily. Good things tend to take a lot of work and time. Setbacks are part of life (which we’ve all been forced to understand now with the COVID-19 crisis).

Please tell us about NotMe Solutions Inc. (aka #NotMe).
I have two businesses. I am a principal at Empower Law firm, which specializes exclusively in the representation of employees in labor and employment law matters. My partner Dominic and I have deep experience on the company/management representation side, and have seen our fair share of misconduct, discrimination, harassment, and injustices brought against big companies. We’ve learned that oftentimes these cases might have been prevented with more transparency into micro-aggressions that happened earlier-on. Sometimes companies did know things were happening and brushed them under the rug, and sometimes, they were blind sighted as their outdated HR tools and hotlines for reporting these types of things were not successfully adopted in their cultures.

The above repeated stories, along with my exposure to more and more #MeToo news, led me to stop practicing law and become a founder (and CEO) of NotMe Solutions Inc (#NotMe). Our focus at #NotMe is misconduct. In particular, its reporting and prevention. #NotMe is a mobile, open, resolution-seeking platform that allows anyone to report misconduct. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were focusing only on workplace misconduct. The pause the crisis has imposed on businesses, including #NotMe, has given us an opportunity and the time to expand our mission and focus. Individuals will still need an easier, more comfortable way to report misconduct (with anonymity, if they choose) and organizations will still need a safer way to capture it (analytics), so both can benefit by preventing escalation and creating an overall safer environment for everyone.

But we are planning to do other very cool and impactful things with #NotMe. #NotMe was created, in part, to remedy the problem of lack of reporting. Our intention is to make the reporting of misconduct, and as a by-product, its prevention and elimination, as easy as possible for individuals. #NotMe provides a safe, practical way for people to report misconduct, thereby preventing further incidents and additional victims.

I am very proud of the team that I get to work with. They are all great people. And I am very proud of the work we do. Before the COVID-19 crisis, #NotMe was playing an incredible role and purpose in society. We were bridging the gap between employers and their employees and helping rebuild trust that had disappeared across organizations worldwide. We will resume this organizational reporting focus as soon as things get back to normal. I am extremely pleased to have helped hundreds of employees over the past few months who had been dealing, on their own, with workplace misconduct related issues ranging from micro-aggressions to more serious offenses.

What sets us apart are two things. 1) The legal expertise I have in employment law. I am an expert on workplace misconduct, (not because I am French, but because) I have been advising companies and employees on workplace-related matters for over 15 years. #NotMe was created based on legal experience and expertise. 2) In addition to some cool and very neat features of our tech (such as our AI), #NotMe is a free and open misconduct reporting tool created to serve the people, regardless of whether their organization subscribes or not to #NotMe. I am very proud of the fact that #NotMe provides support to anyone who needs help in maneuvering difficult and oftentimes grey situations and experiences. We’re here to make the world safer.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
The time I spent with my grandfather. Growing up, I was very close to my two grandfathers, but was particularly close to my paternal grandfather, Papi Maurice. We shared the passion of tennis and spent a lot of time together at the tennis club (not necessarily playing together, as I rapidly became a better player than he was, 🙂 but I will always treasure our lunches and drinks after our respective games.

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