Connection and support: meet Flash Pack’s top voices of friendship

While we all make steps to invest in our relationships with friends and family – did you know that some people’s careers actually revolve around the concept of human connection?

At a time when people are feeling increasingly disconnected from one another, we’re bringing you our top voices of friendship: experts in sharing valuable lessons on how to foster meaningful relationships (in the real world) and make true friendships that last.

Something for later: watch Flash Pack co-founder Lee Thompson as he hits the streets of New York City in a unique experiment to meet new friends (video at the end of this article).

Top Voices of Friendship

Dr. Marisa G Franco


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Dr. Marisa Franco is one of the world’s leading experts in human connection. She is an an enlightening psychologist, New York Times bestselling author, and TED speaker. Dr. Franco works as a professor at The University of Maryland and authored Platonic: How The Science of Attachment Can Help You Make – and Keep – Friends. She writes about friendship for Psychology Today and has been a featured connection expert for major publications like The New York Times, The Telegraph and Vice.

Adam Smiley Poswolsky


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Adam Smiley Poswolsky (who goes by Smiley) is an internationally renowned keynote speaker, workplace belonging expert, and bestselling author of Friendship in the Age of Loneliness.

Claire Cohen


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Claire Cohen is a freelance journalist and the author of ‘BFF? The Truth About Female Friendship,’ which examines what modern friendship means and celebrates our friends as the most important people in our lives. She contributes to The Times, Grazia and Vogue, and has been named one of Britain’s Top 50 gender equality trailblazers.

Alex Alexander

Alex Alexander is a founder, speaker, podcaster, and soon-to-be author. Her work focuses on community & friendship, specifically how relationships are working (or not working) in our everyday lives. Alex’s work will leave you with tangible examples of how you might build your own version of a support system that feels good. Check out her podcast, Friendship IRL!

Dr. Miriam Kirmayer


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Dr. Miriam Kirmayer is a clinical psychologist, leading friendship expert, and one of the most influential speakers on human connection and social support. With over a decade of research in the science of friendship, Dr. Miriam has developed a unique approach to building, strengthening, and celebrating our connections , as a way to invest in our personal , professional and social growth.

Shasta Nelson


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A pioneer in belongingness, Shasta Nelson is an in-demand keynote speaker, popular media resource, and author of three books in which she teaches how to build healthy relationships, including The Business of Friendship: Making the Most of the Relationships Where We Spend Most of Our Time.

Haroon Mota


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Haroon Mota is an adventure and thrill-seeking athlete who has for over a decade been setting himself ambitious fundraising challenges; running multi-marathons and climbing mountains around the world, raising millions of pounds for charity and inspiring so many from the South Asian & Muslim communities to follow in his footsteps.

Haroon has a strong passion for increasing diversity and inclusion in outdoor fitness, which led him to create the Active Inclusion Network and launching projects such as Muslim Hikers, which has rapidly grown to become the largest community in the world for Muslims interested in the outdoors.

Jacqueline Mroz


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Jacqueline Mroz is a writer and journalist. Her background in science writing, and her experiences with her friends, led her to write her newest book: Girl Talk: What Science Can Tell Us About Female Friendship.

Nina Badzin

Nina Badzin is a Minneapolis-based podcaster and writer. She’s been writing about adult friendships since 2014, and in 2021 she started her podcast and Substack newsletter, Dear Nina: Conversations About Friendship. Nina ends every episode with these words: “When our friendships are going well, we’re happy all around.” And works hard to help others make connection a priority and make getting along easier to do.

Alex Friedman

Alex Friedman is a friendship and connection coach and founder of the social wellness company, Connection Feast, where she curates and hosts social events, workshops and group coaching experiences that help people connect on a deeper level.

Alex believes that relationships are one of the most central healing forces and paths of fulfilment. And through Connection Feast, Alex has cultivated a global community of inspiring people who like to dive deep and explore big questions, so that together, we can all experience more meaningful connections with ourselves, other people, and the world.

Erin Falconer


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Erin Falconer is a writer, digital entrepreneur and psychotherapist. In 2022 she released the much anticipated, How to Break Up with Your Friends: Finding Meaning, Connection and Boundaries in Modern Friendship (named one of 2022’s ‘Next Big Ideas’ by Malcolm Gladwell). Since 2008, she has been the editor-in-chief and co-owner of PickTheBrain. Forbes Magazine named Erin’s blog one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Sites for Women.”

Sarah Crosby


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Sarah Crosby is an Irish psychotherapist and bestselling author of 5 Minute Therapy. She is the co-founder and director of Mind Bread, a company dedicated to making emotional and relational health accessible to all. She lives in Co. Wicklow with her wife, dogs, and (debatably) too many books.

Zaid Zeppelin


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Zaid is an engineer-turned-full-time-content-creator who produces stories that navigate work culture, urbanism and the human spirit. Lately, he’s been obsessed with friendship theory, notably in adult friendships. Genuine connection through community seems scarce in the fast-paced shuffle of today’s world, but we owe it to ourselves to search for it. Zaid released an album earlier this fall called Rodent Race that explores all of this and more.

Steph Tonneson


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Steph Tonneson loves people. She also loves making art. In combining the two, she’s built an archive of digital content that tells stories about the human condition: a podcast episode with a cardiologist she met on the streets of New Orleans; a 60-second video portrait of a woman she met on a plane; a story told from her bedroom floor about the kind, non-English speaking neighbour who communicates with her solely through plates of Armenian food.

However much her subject matter or format changes, the common themes across Steph’s work are kindness, resilience, and finding the path to our most authentic selves.

Matthew Kepnes

Matt Kepnes runs the award-winning travel site, which helps people travel the world on a budget. He’s the author of the NYT best-seller How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and the travel memoir Ten Years a Nomad. His writings and advice have been featured in The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, Lifehacker, Budget Travel, BBC, Time, and countless other publications. You can follow him on Instagram at @nomadicmatt. When he’s not on the road, he lives in NYC.

Samantha D. Liberal

“What Type of Friend Are You?” is what Samantha D. Liberal, formally known as The Friendship Enthusiast, a certified friendship coach and advocate for the “new friends” movement asks people she encounters and meets at networking events.  It’s her desire to help people journeying to purpose experience the blessings and favor that comes with friendship.

Sam is the founder and CEO of Pure Friendships and In Living Friendships, respectively. Her devotion is encouraged by her desire to inspire people to Connect, Reconnect, and stay Connected while spreading the Good News about what a pure friendship really is and what it takes to maintain it.

Hope Kelaher

Hope Kelaher is a therapist based in New York City. She has extensive training in relational and systemic therapy and received post-graduate training from The Ackerman Institute for the Family. Hope has a degree in public health from The Johns Hopkins University and a clinical social work degree from Columbia University.  She is an accomplished author who has penned How to Make Friends as an Adult, and, most recently, she has released The Resilience Workbook for Women.

Blake Blankenbecler

Blake Blankenbecler, LPC is a psychodynamic therapist specializing in friendships, anxiety, trauma, and eating disorders. She studies some of the most foundational and pivotal relationships that hardly get anytime in the spotlight: our friendships. She believes that life is meant to be lived in connection and helps friends have more meaningful conversations and create more sustainable friendships. Blake created and released The Friendship Deck, a conversation game for friends who are craving more depth and intimacy with each other.

Will you be my friend?

“What would it be like to put myself out there, and simply ask strangers, “will you be my friend?” And to do so in some of Manhattan’s busiest and most aloof places; from Union Square and Grand Central Station to Line 6 on the NYC Subway? Armed with a hidden TV crew and all the courage I could muster, I set out to see… ”

Lee Thompson, Co-founder of Flash Pack, is moving to New York in the coming months and he took some drastic measures to make friends in advance. Although he faced plenty of rejection, anyone that did stop to talk to Lee in his 36-hour friendship experiment was invited on a night out with him – with surprising results, as five new pals joined him for a bar crawl and karaoke until the early hours. Watch the full video here.

Flash Pack is a group travel company that specialises in small group adventures for solo travellers in their 30s and 40s. Find out more about how we work, and our mission to build a global community of friendships.

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