The Friendship Upgrade

Relationship expert, author, and keynote speaker, Heather Dugan, engages national audiences on a range of topics with insights from her award-winning writing and research. In The Friendship Upgrade, she deals with the growing problem of personal isolation. It equips individuals to exchange clickable connections for in-person interactions. Through the deeply personal stories of real people, it examines our varied routes to isolation as well as the impact that technology, hyper efficiency, and patterned choices can have on us. More importantly, Heather provides both a roadmap for finding anchored connections and a model for building community with the equally disconnected people around us. Because the secret is this: most of them are silently hoping for us to extend a bridge and make a connection.

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About Heather

Heather Dugan is an award-winning author, speaker, and relationship expert frequently sourced by national media for insights on events and trends related to relationships, communication, and connection. Her books include The Friendship Upgrade: Trade Clickable Connections for Friendships that Matter (Headline Books, 2019) and Date Like a Grownup: Anecdotes, Admissions of Guilt & Advice Between Friends. She is also the Founder/Director of Cabernet Coaches®, an “all ages, all stages” social resource group for women. 

After graduating from Indiana University, Heather built a career as a professional voice actor and on-camera spokeswoman while writing a successful sponsored blog as well as travel, business, health, and wellness content for publications such as HuffPost, Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle,, Eyes on News, and the South Florida Reporter. A reader letter sparked her first advice column (Boost Your Work/Life Balance for and stirred a desire to do more for individuals struggling with relationships. Supplementing her own observations with interviews and additional research, she published her first book in 2012. Shortly after, she began speaking to organizations, groups, and communities incorporating the often personal experiences that continue to guide her work, research, and writing to this day.

As an affiliate member of the McLean Institute of Coaching (Harvard Medical School), Heather uses the latest in health & wellness, positive psychology, and organizational coaching for her programs that enable companies, organizations, and individuals to connect, engage, and achieve in both professional and personal lives. .

Testimonials & Reviews

Something remarkable happened today. In a very short amount of time, Heather was able to get these women to share things that were very personal. As someone who’s in the business of connecting with people, I was amazed by how quickly and deeply it happened… Check out Heather’s book, The Friendship Upgrade if you’re looking for an honest account of what it’s like to find community in today’s world.

Carolyn Hadlock

Principal, Executive Creative Director

Young & Laramore

Heather Dugan was amazing! The real-life scenarios were perfect for the audience. I don't think I have ever attended a training session so tailored to mv exact position.

Continuing Education webinar attendee

(post-event survey response)

I’ve read her books but listening to her adds a dimension that enables the audience to behave differently leaving the room than when they assembled… more eye contact, a focused effort to meet the new person, even a more courteous exit from the parking lot.

Mary Angela Miller

Founder, KeepSafeFood, adjunct faculty OSU Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

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