Davood for Thought

Bold Leadership: Lloyd Levine, T-Mobile National Senior Executive for State Government Strategy

December 13, 2022 The Human Impact Studio Season 3 Episode 2
Davood for Thought
Bold Leadership: Lloyd Levine, T-Mobile National Senior Executive for State Government Strategy
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode, Davood talks with Lloyd Levine, a former member of the California State Legislature who served as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce. Currently, Mr. Levine serves as T-Mobile for Government’s National Senior Executive for State Government Strategy and is a Senior Policy Fellow at the University of California, Riverside School of Public Policy. Lloyd is also working on an edited book volume on the intersection of technology and government titled Technology vs. Government: The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object, due out in 2023. 

Davood and Lloyd touch on several digital transformation topics relevant to government entities, including cloud migration, how connectivity is integral to delivery of government services to the people who need them most, and how governments need to adapt to technology in order to better serve a generation that has always had technology at its fingertips. They discuss how bold leaders recognize risks, but don’t let those risks keep them from moving forward — highlighting bold leadership from key figures such as JFK and Toomas Ilves, the former president of Estonia. 

Follow Lloyd at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lloydlevine/.
Follow Davood at https://www.linkedin.com/in/davood-ghods-17770bb/.

The Davood for Thought podcast is brought to you by Launch Consulting.

Davood Ghods (00:02):

Hello, everyone. Welcome to Launch Consulting's Davood for Thought podcast. I'm Davood Ghods, and I will be your host Today. The way I stay up with the pressing topics of tech and government of today is to tap into the panel of experts I've had the honor of connecting with over the years. Today, I'm honored to have Mr. Lloyd Levine on the podcast. Mr. Levine is a former member of the California State Legislature, where he served as chair of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce. Currently, Mr. Levine serves as T-Mobile for Government’s National Senior Executive for State Government Strategy. Mr. Levine is also a Senior Policy Fellow and founding member of the advisory board at the University of California Riverside School of Public Policy. As a Policy Fellow, Mr. Levine has multiple peer-reviewed articles on technology, government, and the digital divide. He's currently putting the finishing touches on an edited book volume titled quote, Technology vs. Government:

Davood Ghods (01:11):

The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object, end of quote. Through his work and academic publications, Mr. Levine has earned a reputation as a nationally recognized leader in government technology and policy, including recently being named one of the 40 most thought-provoking innovators in New York City and state by the prestigious City & State magazine. Mr. Levine, without sharing any more of your background, I want to welcome you to this episode of Davood for Thought and ask you to tell us a bit more about yourself. And for someone who doesn't know much about your area of expertise, please give us a brief overview of what you do and what you are currently working on. Welcome.

Lloyd Levine (02:02):

Thank you, Davood. It's good to be here. I always enjoy talking about things related to technology and government. I guess, you know, little bit about my background is I grew up around this I was in my first political campaign headquarters when I was four years old, and I kind of grew up in and around politics and government in California, and that's really where my passion lies is, is both in technology and, and in state government, and really the intersection between the two. And so I'm fortunate that's what I get to work on, both in my academic work at UC Riverside, and professionally for T-Mobile is to a degree what I was working on when I was, when I was in the legislature, and that is helping make sure that the state's technology needs are met and the state has the ability to access cutting-edge technology.

Davood Ghods (02:46):

Excellent. Thank you. You are fortunate and you are really helping shape policy in state of California. Mr. Levine, what emerging trends are you seeing in your field that we should all be paying more attention to, and how are you preparing to be a part or ahead of that trend?

Lloyd Levine (03:07):

Well, that's, that's an excellent question. I think there's three things. First, I'm going to invert the question, how am I prepared to be a part or ahead of the trend? And that is, you just gotta read. Technology changes, you know, at incredibly fast pace. And so, to me it's just, it's a matter of paying attention, talking to people, reading, making sure that you are staying up on the latest trends, the latest issues, the latest problems and the latest solutions. And you want to attempt to know as much as you can, but you also kind of have to recognize that you're not going to be able to, because there's so much information and technology out there that you kind of also have to figure out who are the right people, not just what is the right information. Who are the right people to talk to, you know, and then build from there, you know. So that's kind of how I do it.

Lloyd Levine (03:54):

I just try to talk to experts. I try to read as much as I can, and I feel like one of my skills, one of my strengths is, is seeing the bigger picture and seeing how the pieces fit together. So for, for me, when you ask the question of what emerging trends are you seeing, I want to talk about two things. I think there's really two bigger picture trends that are important, and to a degree, both have roots in the pandemic in a certain way. One is, is procurement reform. I've said it in many times recently, in many places. In 2022, governments by and large purchase technology the same way they bought pencils in 1950. The government procurement process, in my view, is antiquated and antithetical to the way technologies are developed and deployed.

Lloyd Levine (04:39):

And this is particularly true in states that have their own proprietary contracts, the cooperative contracts from places like NASBO do have a little bit better ability to integrate quickly new technologies and make those available. The way we define things in categories to a degree on some of these contracts. Those things are obviated by the way technology is deployed. What are certain technologies, they don't fall in discreet categories like contracts have. Technologies are developed and released on an ongoing basis. I'll use a hot button topic for today. You know, Tesla, you buy a framework of a Tesla, but Tesla is constantly updated over the air. So, when you're talking about these sorts of things, you have, you have, and maybe that's not the best example in this situation, but when you have items that change after they've been purchased, items that new capabilities are added to, how do you understand what categories those fit into?

Lloyd Levine (05:32):

You know, how do you say to somebody, well, I'm sorry, you've got this great tool, but the contract window’s closed, so you're going to have to wait. I feel like that was a bit of a word salad there, Davood. But essentially what I'm looking at is the purpose of procurement policy. The purpose of the procurement process in my mind is to ensure transparency, right? And it's to ensure that government, departments, agencies, et cetera, have access to the latest technologies. And I would argue that I don't necessarily believe that the procurement process does that. I believe there are artificial categories put in there, and I believe there are artificial timeframes that are put in there that sometimes inhibit the ability of governments to access the technologies they might need. So before I go on to know my second point in things in emerging trends, I figured I'll stop and see if you have any questions on that.

Davood Ghods (06:19):

No, that's great. I think your example was right on, and it's great that you are using something other than specifically technology for this part of the question anyway, to talk about. And that's procurement, which needs a lot of updating and revamping.

Lloyd Levine (06:34):

Yeah, I mean, it’s an overarching thing. You know, what kinds of trends? Well, there's all sorts of trends depending upon where you are. Certainly, AI is coming into play. There’s all sorts of different trends out there, but the overarching one to me is the government's ability to buy these things quickly, to integrate them to meet the need. So the second one is a bit of a pivot, and it's something that I actually have started thinking about a number of years ago, but recently had some conversations with some state leaders and municipal leaders in Oregon, in Nevada, and, and here in California. And I drew back on some of the things I was thinking of. And what I'm looking at is the ability to deliver services to individuals, to potentially vulnerable individuals who are clients of the state government, so to speak.

Lloyd Levine (07:21):

And, and there's a wide variety of those. And so, talk a little bit here. Before I came to T-Mobile, I was working as a consultant, and one of the things I was working on was helping to close the digital divide. And when I was working there, I realized that it's really a challenge in so many different ways, you know, to be a lower-income individual, you know, more than you would even suspect. And what I realized was the state does a great job putting together programs to connect, you know, to provide support for individuals. The state actually doesn't do a great job of connecting individuals to those programs. And I think part of that is because those programs are so disparate. You're a low-income individual, the number of phone numbers you have to call to find these services is quite high, you know, and then you start layering in there the digital divide.

Lloyd Levine (08:05):

Well, you know, not everybody has the ability to go online to do this, so you are really talking about phone numbers. And so, you know, I became aware of something that we have as a solution here at T-Mobile, and I don’t want to make this a T-Mobile commercial. But it was really profound when I started to learn about this solution and see how it fit into my prior work. The solution is something called CPR3, Connecting People and Resources. And really what it does is it brings together two sides of what I used to work on. It helps bridge the digital divide while at the same time connecting vulnerable populations to those resources. It's a device. It could be a phone, it could be an iPad that comes specially kitted for the end user. So let me give an example here. In the state of Colorado, we worked with the state, and we did the same thing in the state of Iowa.

Lloyd Levine (08:51):

And we provided devices to Afghan refugees who were being resettled after the United States pulled out of Afghanistan. So, the devices were provided by us. They were kitted by one of our partners, and we worked with the state so that when you received a device as a refugee, it was in your language so you could understand it. It had all of the apps that you would need to connect as a refugee seeking to become a US citizen. It connected to government, it connected to English language, it connected to food, health, all of those other sorts of services that you might need. And it came with unlimited hotspot data, so you could connect it to a computing device and have computer access. We did something similar in a community college in Tennessee during the pandemic with 2000 lower-income community college students.

Lloyd Levine (09:37):

Again, they got a device specially kitted so that it had all of the apps that they would need to connect to the university or the college. It had all of the apps because these were lower-income that they would need for social service support within their community. And again, hotspot data so that they could sit at home with their Chromebooks and they could stream their classes. They didn't have to get an additional service provider. CPR3 is a customizable solution that, as I see it, it's not just something T-Mobile sells. As I see CPR3, it can radically transform the way governments provide services to target populations. And I really started to transform that thinking after talking with the director of the Youth Authority in Oregon and the team in Nevada who is setting up their 988 system. And then some people in the L.A. Mayor's office.

Lloyd Levine (10:22):

And I start to really understand the problem and the potential this solution has for solving the problem by both bridging the digital divide at the same time as providing the solution. We can't provide digital solutions to the populations who might need it because they don't have access to the internet in many cases. But what if the solution included access to the internet, and it did so at an affordable rate. And so, I'm going to end with this. When you think about kind of the ability to provide services to people and how if they don't have access to service, they often go to the service provider of last resort, be that 911, or be that the emergency room. What would the avoided cost be to this state and to those institutions if we provided them alternate means of connectivity, a different way to connect with the state, to find the service and the resources they need on an ongoing rolling basis, instead of, you know, once or twice a month when somebody checked in on them and then we prevented them from having to use the provider of last resort.

Lloyd Levine (11:20):

I see this, as I said, I see this, I'm really excited by this partially cause I'm just a government geek and a technology geek, but I really genuinely see this as the ability to transform how specific agencies provide access to government services to low-income individuals.

Davood Ghods (11:34):

That's right. Connectivity is definitely going to continue to be a trend. And I appreciate you touching on the technology part as well as on an administrative part of our world, the IT world.

Lloyd Levine (11:48):

Davood, you're a hundred percent right. Connectivity is going to continue to be an issue. And historically, we viewed these separate. We've viewed these as we need to provide people, you know, we need to help people get connected to the internet so that they can access these services, so that they can access, you know, job training, jobs, education, whatever it might be. But we haven't actually put them in the same device. We haven't actually, prior to this kind of thought of the ability of, what if we provided them a device? The devices that we provide on a monthly basis, including service, are actually very affordable. We're talking, $25, $30, $35, depending upon exactly what the device is, how it's kitted for monthly service. That provides both connectivity and comes pre kitted with those apps so that you put it in the palm of their hand, that they can connect to the energy company for discounted energy rates. They can connect to whatever they need for the discounted services that they need. By linking both the services and the digital divide in one device, I think we can gain efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve services to the targeted individuals and hopefully improve outcomes. Cause ultimately, that's what it is. These services are designed to improve outcomes.

Davood Ghods (12:58):

Yep. And ultimately, narrowing the digital divide. You know, all of these new technologies or emerging technologies are going to increase the big data into even bigger data. So my next question is about, you know, it's kind of a rhetorical question. Are there any risks around data and AI that you or your organizations or organization are concerned about? And how do you manage those risks while continuing to innovate?

Lloyd Levine (13:25):

<Laugh> God, I mean, that's, that's, that's the million dollar question. Yes. I mean, there, there's risks around, you know, it's not risks around data, it's risk around security, around the data. You know, the data itself is desirable by people who want to do harm. So, the risk there is how do we protect that data? And you're right, and it's not just T-Mobile, it's the state of California. It's the US government. Every day that goes by the volume of data collected, the volume of data available grows exponentially. And that can be a good thing. You know, if you look at, you know, the concept of digital transformation. Digital transformation is people, process and data. You can't have some of these digital transformations without the data component of that. So, we need to focus on what's possible. But at the same time, protecting against, you know, risks.

Lloyd Levine (14:13):

T-Mobile has, you know, as, as does the state of California has own cybersecurity team, you know, a Chief Cybersecurity Officer who's focused not just on our own security, but on the data of our customers, too, making sure that any customer data that we have is protected. And so, I think if you aren't focused on the risks around protecting data, you're leaving yourself wide open. And I can't imagine anybody who is listening to this podcast doesn't already know that. AI is the, the same thing in a different sort of way, though. AI is artificial intelligence, but artificial intelligence is also programmable intelligence. So, the question becomes, with the AI that we're programming, that we're teaching computers to learn from what are, and I think this is particularly relevant for government as well as I guess for corporations, what are the biases that we're putting into the AI, if any?

Lloyd Levine (15:08):

You know, I'm aware although not deeply familiar with the challenges on some of the facial recognition algorithms that were written and the way those algorithms impact African American and other minority communities because the algorithms and the facial recognition software were written a way that Caucasian faces, it works fine, but it doesn't work as well with other faces. What kinds of other biases are we putting into that AI? And what safeguards do we have in place? To me, government, you know, and this is again, not rocket science. Your government's in, in the business of delivering services to people. And yes, it needs to be run efficiently, but it, it also needs to ensure that everybody is included. So whatever our AI processes are, we need to look at those processes and understand where there's bias and what the impact of those biases are. And I would think that that's the biggest risk of AI. Certainly there's benefits to it as well, but the biggest risk is, is any unintentional inherent bias that's injected into the system.

Davood Ghods (16:14):

Right, right. I completely agree, and thank you for bringing in an example to clarify your answer. My next question Lloyd, is regarding cloud in government, cloud computing. According to Gartner, by 2025, not today, in 2022, but by 2025, over 75% of governments will operate more than half of their workloads using hyperscale cloud service providers. How do you see cloud making an impact on government based on your experience being a member of the legislature and now in the industry?

Lloyd Levine (16:50):

Well, I gotta say, I'm a little surprised that it's not until 2025 that 75% of governments are gonna have their services in the cloud. And I guess even then, why only 75? I would wonder what are governments doing? Are they operating large scale data centers? Are we, just because we haven't finished transitioning out of the data centers? I think there's far, far, far more risk in maintaining data centers in 2022, 23, 24, than there are in migration to the cloud. And I'm not sure what the reticence is to migrate to the cloud. You know, I see the benefits of redundancy, the benefits of disparate storage solutions around the country. You know, certainly, for T-Mobile, for example, our government call centers are all located on US soil.

Lloyd Levine (17:42):

While I don't know what the issues are, if there's a concern about where the data is stored physically, then certainly those could be written into contracts. Make sure that the data centers are located physically on US soil, and even within the physical data centers run by Amazon and, and Microsoft and others, you can have, you have multiple data centers scattered around the United States. So, there's redundancy there. It just seems more efficient as well. So, I look at it and say, you know, it has the ability to improve operations and reduce costs. And again, I'm hoping that this isn't really applying to anybody in California. I'd be surprised if it does. I'd feel like I'm not going out on a limb with some of these things, because to me, the benefits of a migration to the cloud are obvious in so many different ways that it struck me not as, you know, amazing that 75% of governments are going to operate half their workloads in the cloud by 2025.

Lloyd Levine (18:44):

But how come so little how <laugh>, how come we haven't accelerated that exactly in a, in a faster sort of way?

Davood Ghods (18:51):

Yeah, the benefits definitely outweigh the risks.

Lloyd Levine (18:54):

Oh, absolutely.

Davood Ghods (18:55):

And there are still those in government that see security risks and other risks by moving their systems and services to the cloud.

Lloyd Levine (19:07):

And I would throw this out there though, I mean, you try to make any system as secure as possible, and not to pick on them, but, Suffolk County, New York just had a huge attack. And that didn't come from the cloud. You talk about risks in the cloud, but what are the risks of not going to the cloud? And again, it's hard to posit those risks without knowing what the solutions are for those who aren't in the cloud. But certainly, if all of your data is in one data center then, assuming whatever governmental entity it is, is not paying for their own redundant data centers, you've certainly got a considerable amount of risk by almost literally putting all of your eggs in one basket.

Lloyd Levine (19:43):

You know, the other thing is, there's a cost benefit to going to the cloud. Yeah, there's an ongoing fee. But if you think about it, the upgrade costs are baked in, you're paying a subscription fee. The expansion of the data center, the upgrade costs are contained in there. Additionally, you're paying a fractional share of a data center. You're not having to, you know, spend the costs to maintain your own data center, upgrade the data center and all that. So, I see a lot more benefit than risk, and I think the risks are easily mitigated and probably are far outweighed by the benefits. And really, honestly, people always talk about the risk of doing something. One of the questions I like to ask is, what is the risk of the status quo? You know, status quo is easy, but what is the risk associated with the status quo?

Davood Ghods (20:29):

Exactly. Exactly. Yep. Just one of the simple benefits is the scaling up or down. And you mentioned procurement at the beginning, you know, if you had your systems on premise and you wanted to scale up, you have to go through the procurement cycle before you even get your equipment to scale. So, it makes it much more easier. And the benefits, again, outweigh the risks.

Lloyd Levine (20:56):

Yes. And I mean, I understand this is something that we couldn't do, you know, a number of years ago. I remember when I first started in the state, you know, we had, you know, the TL data center and the HWDC.

Davood Ghods (21:08):

I spent 14 years there,

Lloyd Levine (21:10):

<Laugh> You know, these technologies weren't available now, but when you look at the way the ubiquity of the internet and the speed of data to the cloud and back, and all of that and the nature of work, having cloud-based data storage, it just makes common sense to me.

Davood Ghods (21:31):

Exactly. Moving to a different topic, what does a bold leader in government look like to you, Lloyd? And does anyone come to mind when you think of bold figures in public sector?

Lloyd Levine (21:45):

Wow, what does a bold leader in government look like? I guess it kind of ties in a little bit to the last answer. A bold leader is somebody who recognizes the risks, but doesn't let those risks become an impediment to moving forward. And I understand, it's easy. And I always used to get frustrated for, you know, people on the outside to, to point fingers at government because you don't understand government. But I do, I understand what it's like to be a government leader. And I used to get frustrated by folks who were too interested in maintaining the status quo, you know, instead of recognizing the circumstances around them had changed and try to figure out the best path forward. And so, to me, a really, a good leader is somebody who wants to not just maintain the status quo, but improve things.

Lloyd Levine (22:32):

And I think there are some examples of bold public figures in this area. You know, Toomas Ilves, the president, former president of Estonia who led their transformation to e-Estonia. That was bold technology leadership. And if you don't know what Estonia is, Google e-Estonia and look at what they've done as a comprehensive you know, e-government platform. It's fantastic. You know, in the United States, I think Rajiv Rao, the Chief Technology Officer for the state of New York is really making excellent strides. Here in California, you know, I think Gavin Newsom, Governor Newsom's creation of the original Office of Digital Innovation a couple of years ago, right after he first got elected, I think that was bold technology, and I'm focused on technology leadership, but that was bold

Lloyd Levine (23:24):

technology, leadership. Outside the technology realm, I've said many times, quoted it, my favorite political speech, and I like the traditional ones that everybody else likes, don't get me wrong. But my favorite political speech was John F. Kennedy's land a man on the moon speech. And I liked it because it was bold and it was big, and he set out this huge audacious goal, and we rose up and we met the challenge. And we don't, I don't see that enough these days in government. When I was running for office, I used to talk about in speeches, I said, I don't want to get elected just to tinker at the margins. You know, I don't want to, I used to actually use the example, I don't want to run legislation to add another disclosure on a real estate form that you have to initial when you buy a house.

Lloyd Levine (24:11):

And that's not to diminish the importance of the legal process of buying a house. But I always said, we've got big problems and I want to tackle those problems. And I'm proud of the record that I had when I was in the legislature, you know, doing those sorts of things. And that's what I want to see people really attempt to do things. You know, a quote of mine that I always like, it's not my quote, it's a quote that I like, wouldn't want anybody to think that I'm quoting myself. And I've tried to figure out who said it, but if you Google it, it comes up attributed to so many different people that I honestly can't give credit to it. But the quote is, only those who attempt the absurd achieve the impossible.

Lloyd Levine (24:56):

And I think that's right. You know, if you view things and say, oh, we can't do that, we can't do this, you're never gonna get anywhere. And so I think a bold leader is somebody who looks and says, we need to get here, and here's why. I don't know how we're gonna get here. I don't know what the path is, but here's how. And I'll end my little my little sermon with this, you know, I'm working on my book, as you said in the beginning, Technology vs. Government: The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object. And to a degree, it's about this exact question. It's about government's challenges adapting to adopting and integrating technologies, and the recognition that so many other industries in America have been run over, transformed, or even eliminated to a degree because of internet-enabled technologies.

Lloyd Levine (25:46):

And if you look at what I call Generation T, the technology generation, people born in 2002, 2004, and later, how are they going to interface with government? How are they gonna work for government? How is government gonna work for them? These are folks who are growing up in a technology bubble. They've grown up at a time where their parents all had smartphones. They won't remember a time by and large where their parents didn't have smartphones. You know, Blackberries were out at that time when they were born. And in 2007, the iPhone was invented. And in 2011, the Samsung Galaxy came out. Broadband penetration to the home reached 70% in 2010. You know, so these are folks who grew up completely surrounded by technology. Their parents had phones, tablets, computers at home. There was computing iconography everywhere, even in movies that weren't about computers.

Lloyd Levine (26:39):

Computers were part of the background scenery of life of these folks. They navigate the world digitally. You know, when I was a kid, if you wanted to if the kids down the street could come out and play, you either picked up the phone and called them, or you walked down the street and knocked on the door. Now you send a text before you call. Like if somebody calls without sending a text first, you know, it's like, did somebody die? You know, the first choice of, when I was a kid, if you wanted a dinner reservation, you either dug into the scrap drawer and found the menu, or you went to the phone book, or you dialed 411. Now you just Google it, or you use Open Table, you know, so you're talking about a generation of people whose first instinct is to reach for technology, and that's ubiquitous.

Lloyd Levine (27:22):

That's everybody. That's everybody from white collar workers to factory workers. They're all growing up in the same circumstances, by and large. And so, what does bold leadership look like? It recognizes that for government to stay relevant, you have to transform. You know, it’s the notion of governance requires the consent of the governed, and we all tacitly give that acceptance, you know, every day in a variety of ways. But what happens when government becomes so inefficient or so hard to deal with, for those who are using technology that without creating an act of civil disobedience, I'm not talking about protests, just people stop participating in certain things that maybe we would like them to participate in. Maybe it's menial things, like they just stop getting fishing licenses and they stop getting hunting licenses. And I don't know what the process is, but if the process is too cumbersome to obtain those, or camping permits, or you name it, if the process is just too cumbersome for people to navigate, and I know this sounds kind of a little like hyperbole right now, but if I had told you shopping malls would've been on the decline 20 years ago because of this thing called Amazon, that would've sounded like hyperbole also.

Lloyd Levine (28:36):

And so I'm not saying government is going away, but I am acknowledging that without bold leadership, without bold technology vision, we do run some sort of risk of obsolescence as people are used to using technology to navigate government.

Davood Ghods (28:49):

Yeah. What a great answer, Mr. Levine, this is a great answer, and I hope that up and coming IT leaders, the generation that you spoke about, listens to this if they want to become a bold leader in government and follow your advice and the quotes you use are right on. Thank you.

Lloyd Levine (29:11):

Well, thank you.

Davood Ghods (29:12):

Last couple of questions, a little bit personal. What's something that would surprise people about your background or interests?

Lloyd Levine (29:21):

Oh, well, let's see. Surprise people about my background? Here, I guess a couple things. I'll give you a couple. You know, and this dawned on me recently. You kind of, you have to be reflective. I think, you know, I grew up relatively low income. People see who I am now, see where I am now. I grew up in a two-bedroom, one bathroom apartment in the San Fernando Valley. Lived there till I was about 11 or 12 years old before my parents bought a small house. You know, I grew up hearing we don't have a lot of money. People who know me now and didn't know me back then, probably aren't aware of that. And certainly, I don't want to portray it as worse than it is.

Lloyd Levine (29:56):

There was a lot of people who are a lot worse off than I was. But yeah, we didn't have a lot of money growing up. And sometimes people don't realize that, or they don't expect that. And the other one that always kind of throws people for a little bit of a loop is that my bachelor's degree is actually in photography. Yeah, it's kind of a funny little story, although I will say, and I'll, you know, loop this back at the end, although my bachelor's degree is in photography, it's actually some really interesting benefits to that that I didn't realize until much later. And no, it has nothing to do with my ability to take Christmas card pictures of my kids. I went when I was 13 years old, I had my appendix out and I wanted to be a surgeon.

Lloyd Levine (30:33):

And so from that time on, that was my focus until I got to the third semester of chemistry, or third quarter of chemistry in college when I decided, you know, this is just not gonna be where I'm gonna go. And my dad suggested that I become a medical illustrator. I was always good at drawing and painting. I've got zero musical talent whatsoever but was good at drawing and painting. So I went over to the art department and really got into photography and was going to become you know, my idea was to become a commercial photographer. But at the time, I was really not very good at selling myself, which might be one of the greatest ironies, you know, ever. So, I was good at photography, but couldn't really sell myself to get the jobs I wanted.

Lloyd Levine (31:13):

So, I was always working in politics. And so eventually, you know, I was doing less and less photography and more and more, you know, political stuff. And that's when I moved up to Sacramento originally to go to grad school for a master's in public policy. But my bachelor's actually is in photography. And, and the interesting thing about that, and I didn't, it didn't, you know, come into play until later. And again, I kind of looked back and realized, oh, that makes sense. I'm on the board of directors of the B Street Theatre, The Sofia Center of the Performing Arts, you know, home of B Street here in Sacramento. And, you know, a number of years ago, our former executive director gave me a report from Fortune 500 company executives. And one of the things in this report, and I actually have this report on my computer, one of the things in that report was that they were lamenting the loss of arts education in school because they, their employees don't have any creativity to solve problems.

Lloyd Levine (32:02):

And it was really interesting ‘cause I actually, looking back now, feel like that one of my strengths is to look at things creatively and differently and bring that creative, maybe not, maybe it's not a, you know, photography solution, but by exercising the creative side of my brain for so many years, I've been trained to bring creative problem solving approaches into the real world. And I've seen those, and I'm not gonna list them, but I've seen those actually where it's like, yeah, you know what, that was an example of where the solution we brought out might not have been the, you know, the solution that was most obvious. And it did take a level of creativity to achieve that solution. So I, you know, I just found it interesting, you know, looking back on my life you know, at, with that bachelor's degree in photography and then later on realizing that actually it's interesting, it may actually be an asset for where I am and what I’m doing.

Davood Ghods (32:53):

Exactly. Thank you for sharing those. And it was surprising to find out that you had a bachelor's in that major. Where can people find you, Lloyd, to learn more about what you and your team are doing in public sector?

Lloyd Levine (33:07):

Well, I am on LinkedIn. I will freely admit I am not a prolific social media poster. For someone who loves technology, I probably should do a better job posting. The best place though is LinkedIn. I'm on Facebook as well. But also, again, don't really post prolifically there either. I'm on Twitter but post even less to Twitter, and the next Instagram post I make might be my second Instagram post. So, don't look for me on Instagram if you're looking to see what I'm doing. One of my New Year's resolutions, and I know we're just at the end of November, is to actually get better about providing interesting content. Not what my cat had for breakfast, but interesting content on social media related to technology and government, because I think there are some interesting things that are going on in the space.

Lloyd Levine (33:56):

So, you know, you can also check out T-Mobile’s website, T-Mobile dot com slash government, T-Mobile for government, you know, just Google T-Mobile for government and see what we're doing. We have interesting solutions there, you know, the great thing about T-Mobile, as I said at the beginning, is it really does just kind of pay me to do what I really like to do anyway, you know, and we are no longer quote just a phone company. You know, that's really the fun part about being here is we are an innovative connectivity solutions provider, you know, technology and telecommunications solutions provider who has done and is doing so many different interesting projects that I get to work on. You know, everything from in Georgia earlier this year, we worked with some partners and put together a solution that allows you to take your driver's license exam without an instructor in the car.

Lloyd Levine (34:49):

Our IOT system runs the traffic signals, all 15,000 traffic signals in New York City run on our network using our IOT system. You know, you just go around the country and you start to look at the different solutions that we're providing that aren't just phone connectivity. Even here in California, we partnered with the housing and Community Development Department and did a huge desk phone replacement solution with them where we eliminated their PBX. Yeah, I heard about that. Yeah. We eliminated their PBX and CENTREX systems. We saved money and improved you know, their flexibility by providing them a solution that didn't tie them to the desk. So I love working here for T-Mobile, so you can always go check out, you know, T-Mobile dot com, you know, slash government and see what we're doing as well.

Davood Ghods (35:30):

Thank you. I'm glad you're on LinkedIn because we published these podcasts on Launch Consulting’s LinkedIn, or my LinkedIn. Lloyd, thank you so much for joining us today, and thank you to all the listeners out there for joining us as well. We will see you in the next episode of Davood for Thought, where we will shed more light on the human side of tech.