Melanie Lefkowitz of LockItz!: “I can not be the only person to have this problem”

Long walks in the park with my son and laughing with my friends on zoom! As stressful as this time has been, I’m trying to keep a sense of humor and remind myself that one day this will be a time in our past and I will tell my son about how we got through […]

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Long walks in the park with my son and laughing with my friends on zoom! As stressful as this time has been, I’m trying to keep a sense of humor and remind myself that one day this will be a time in our past and I will tell my son about how we got through it together.

The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.

As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Melanie Lefkowitz.

Melanie Lefkowitz is a seasoned television news producer. After she became a mother for the first time, she couldn’t believe how quickly her young son gravitated to her cell phone and wanted to push all the buttons. She thought, “There must be a way to prevent this while keeping my son occupied.” That’s how the inspiration for the Lockitz! app was born. Melanie is a native New Yorker, she graduated from Hunter College and currently resides on the Upper West Side with her 3-year-old son.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I had a relatively normal, happy childhood in Brooklyn, NY. I am still close friends with most of my high school friends today, which is a comforting feeling.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” From the great Dr. Seuss. I’ve tried to change the course of my life a few times, just go for it and don’t listen to anyone else.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?

I have been working in TV news pretty much my entire adult life. My first job out of college was as an NBC Page, then eventually worked my way up. For the past 10 years or so, I’ve worked on a daily, topical news show, which can be exhilarating, exhausting, inspiring and frustrating all at the same time. However, TV news is really all I ever wanted to do.

What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?

Well, I still have my regular full-time job, which keeps me quite busy. But I had my son 3 years ago. Very early on I was fascinated with how quickly he would gravitate to my cell phone, trying to imitate me and press all the buttons. Before he could even walk, I would be grabbing my phone out of his hands, he always seemed to find it wherever I left it.

Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?

My son would constantly push the buttons in the password screen. Then I would be locked out of the phone when he disabled it. One day I had to call my company’s IT department two times for them to unlock my phone. I thought, “I can not be the only person to have this problem”. So I came up with the Lockitz! App. It prevents young kids from getting into your phone while giving them an entertaining screen to play with.

How are things going with this new initiative?

Things are going pretty well. When the pandemic first started, my first thought was that I would put this project on hold for a bit. But then I realized, with so many parents and caregivers quarantining at home with their kids, trying to manage homeschooling, jobs and life all at the same, Lockitz was actually the perfect app for this time.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When I was in college, I was a little naive, I thought it would be easy to get a job in TV. Then when I graduated I had a rude awakening how difficult it was. I didn’t know one person in the business who could help or guide me. I tried for quite some time, with no luck at all, feeling like it was never going to happen and I should give up. Then I ran into a girl on the street I had been friends with at school a few years earlier. She was currently working in TV, and long story short, she passed my resume on and I had my first entry-level job shortly after. I often think about what I would be doing today if we hadn’t had this encounter and she hadn’t been kind enough to help me out. I also think about all the deserving young people with no fancy connections who should also be allowed the same shot as anyone else.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

I am always amused at being called an “app developer”. This is the first app I have created and it really just happened organically, it was never a specific goal that I pursued.

So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?

Long walks in the park with my son and laughing with my friends on zoom! As stressful as this time has been, I’m trying to keep a sense of humor and remind myself that one day this will be a time in our past and I will tell my son about how we got through it together.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

While we all look forward to this pandemic being “over”, there are a great many people who have disproportionately suffered. As we all head back to work and school, look around your city and community, see what you can offer to others. Whether it’s employment, advice, volunteering, donating items, everyone can do something. NYC took a hard hit and I look forward to being part of the revitalization in the years to come.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I just watched comedian Sarah Cooper’s Netflix special and I thoroughly enjoyed it! She perfectly captures the moment in politics and manages to make it humorous. I think lunch with her would be awesome or make it dinner and drinks!

How can our readers follow you online?

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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