Person who used to work for TED Talks dishes about ‘jerks’ who were mean to their assistants

@brosandprose/TikTok burdun/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

‘Some of them are total creeps’: Person who used to work for TED Talks dishes about ‘jerks’ who were mean to their assistants

'I am absolutely not surprised.'


Beau Paul


Posted on Apr 18, 2024   Updated on Apr 18, 2024, 4:10 pm CDT

“Ideas Worth Spreading.” That’s the slogan of TED Talks, the eighteen-minute-long informational speeches produced by TED Conferences, LLC.

According to its website, the organization seeks out “Scientists, researchers, technologists, business leaders, artists, designers, and other world experts” to share “valuable new knowledge and innovative research in their fields.”

TED Conferences states its “talks are now viewed or listened to more than 3 billion times annually.”

However, one ex-employee of the organization claims that while the talks may be popular, some of its hosts are more problematic than problem-solving behind the scenes.

Author and culture critic Ella Dawson (@brosandprose) claims to have worked for TED Conferences for five years. On Saturday, she took to her TikTok account to post a video alleging that “many” of the individuals who have hosted talks for the organization are “jerks.”

So far, the video has picked up over 190,200 views and counting on TikTok.

“I just need you guys to know that some of the speakers you idealize who have taught you to be a better person, who seem like they have it all together, are just as lost and insecure and weird as you are,” she claims in the video.

While Dawson says that many of the hosts she worked with were “amazing” and “genuine angels,” she alleges that “many of them are jerks who did not write their talk; who are rude to their assistants; who are selling life courses and trying to make as much money as possible with podcast ads.”

“Do not compare yourselves to the people that you see online,” she concludes, claiming that “Everyone is a human being, and no one has it together.”

According to TED’s code of conduct, those asked to participate in talks agree to “Respect the boundaries of other attendees” and “Avoid aggressively pushing your own services, products or causes.”

The code also prohibits “Abuse of power” and “Sexual harassment of any kind.”

In 2018, The Washington Post published an article stating that “At least five people, including a past main stage speaker, told TED officials that they were harassed or groped during the organization’s flagship conference in Vancouver in April, according to interviews and email correspondence.”

According to The Post, TED released a statement that read, in part, “We took immediate action to address the specific allegations, then worked with leading experts to upgrade our code of conduct. Today we make the code of conduct extremely clear to all TED conference attendees, and encourage our community to report violations.”

The Daily Dot has reached out to TED via email for more information.

@brosandprose And some of them are total creeps, but thats another story. #TEDTalks #selfimprovement #lifeadvice ♬ original sound – Ella Dawson

In the comments section of Dawson’s video, GamerDriver (@drivergamergirl) wrote, “I am absolutely not surprised. Thank you for spreading this meaningful truth.”

“It’s one skillset to speak truth confidently and engagingly but an entirely different skillset to live that way. The art and the artist are not the same entity in many cases,” another viewer remarked.

Another viewer noted, sadly, “Awww this is disheartening to hear. I used to love Ted Talks.”

However, some commenters concentrated on Dawson’s claims that many hosts were amazing.

Libby Eddleman Spears (@libbyonthelabel73) wrote, “Would love to hear who was awesome to work with. My fav Ted talk is Benjamin Zander. Transformative power of classical music. I hope he’s a great guy.”

The Daily Dot has reached out to Dawson via Instagram direct message for more information.

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*First Published: Apr 18, 2024, 8:00 pm CDT