An artist rendering of me trying to speak!

My Real Experience with Thought-Leader

Cameron Lee Cowan
5 min readNov 8, 2023


If you have been in the public speaking space and trying to get your public speaking career off the ground, you’ve probably seen the flashy ads with Taylor Conroy talking about how you can get on a TEDx stage. If you google Thought-Leader you won’t find much beyond a single Better Business Bureau listing with a reasonable complaint and a reasonable reply. If you’re thinking about joining their program, here are my thoughts.

Cost and Time

The first thing you should know is that joining the Thought-Leader program is not cheap. I paid $6,800 to join the program and the price has gone up since 2022 when I joined. This is not something to be taken lightly. It is probably the most expensive program I’ve ever joined that didn’t have a degree attached to it.

The other thing is the matter of time. This is a huge commitment. There are 4 trainings that start you off in the program. There are two sessions to develop your TEDx application and two sessions to develop your talk and your one minute pitch video. For me, these sessions were incredibly inconvenient because I was living on the West Coast at the time and with the time zones, it mean that the sessions started at 7:30 or 8:30 in the morning. Can I get a cup of coffee first?

After that you’ll have to do your 3 minute talk practice and a full keynote talk practice. You’ll do these until you have both down, especially during the process of writing your talk. This is no easy thing. Be prepared to put in the time and energy to make this a reality. I’m a firm believer that life gives stuff to those who show up and so I did my level best to show up to every appointment and do all the tasks. I took the time to write my talk as well. You should know going in that its a commitment of both time and money.

The Good

The program is run by people who have successfully landed TEDx talks, some of them have landed multiple talks. In the informational sessions you’ll primarily hear from those folks. It is all very exciting. They do seem to know what they are talking about and there are people who have successfully landed talks but I don’t know it is as many as they claim.

I was encouraged a great deal by my first account manager, Bradley. He hadn’t landed a talk when…



Cameron Lee Cowan

Creative Director of The Cameron Journal. Culture, political commentary, and much more!