The Clothespin of Destiny

The Clothespin of Destiny

By Speaker and Comedian, Michael Dean Ester

Be prepared for unexpected career changes after college when you find yourself at a crossroad or a brick wall. Or suddenly wearing a laundry implement. Wait. What?  It wasn’t a fork in the road that changed my career path. It was a clothespin.

Here’s the thing. I’m a campus comic. I do a campus comedy and motivational show about launching dream careers. Spoiler Alert: It’s popular at new student orientation. Now imagine my surprise when Penn State University, one of my long running orientation schools, invited me to speak at its 50th Annual Summer Leadership Conference. Wow! It’s the honor of a lifet—Wait. Leadership? …

“Okay, Google, make me sound like a leadership expert.”

Pro tip:

If you’re looking for pithy leadership quotes, type “John Maxwell” in the search field. (Inc. Magazine named him the #1 global authority.) I loaded my head with Maxwellian wisdom and decided to speak about the unique opportunities that college creates to influence the lives of roommates, classmates, and other members of campus organizations. Would it be relevant? Would it be funny? Would students respond?

To my surprise and relief, the leadership conference participants gave my talk a standing ovation. Students lined up to take pics. One of the groups “pinned” me. (Each delegation from Penn State’s 24 campuses was issued a set of clothespins with exemplary words or phrases written on them. Students were instructed to acknowledge people who embodied these words or phrases by “pinning” them throughout the leadership conference.) I looked down at my clothespin and saw a single word. “Teacher.

Who, ME?

In a room with some of the most credentialed educators in the state, how could I be hailed as the teacher? The lump in my throat has never gone away. I discovered a new mission that night. The college market needed a comedy and motivational program for student leadership development. I soon learned that John Maxwell offered a certification program. (Picture a young Luke Skywalker finding a flyer about Jedi lessons with Yoda.)

The following year, I became a certified speaker and teacher with the John Maxwell Team. Mr. Maxwell personally authorized me to use his official “Leadership Learning Systems” as part of my college leadership program nationwide. Will it be funny? Funny you should ask. My unique program teaches student leaders how to employ humor and a lighthearted attitude as effective leadership tools to help campus organizations boost morale, achieve more meaningful goals, and better serve their campus communities.


I accept the new job title. What will your clothespin of destiny say?

Michael Dean Ester is a certified speaker, teacher, and coach with the John Maxwell Team. Michael is also a comedian. Inquire about Michael Dean Ester, here and save a date for him to come to your campus! 


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