For a Complete Mind Shift, Go Hiking With Your Work BFF

Sponsor Content Created With Merrell

Two women on a hike in Los Angeles
(Image credit: Future)

I've never considered myself the outdoorsy type, but spending time in the sun always seems to cure my seasonal depression, so when I was given the chance to participate in the Merrell x Power Play hike, I raised my hand. I could set aside my feelings about the great outdoors for a morning hike around Inspiration Loop in the Pacific Palisades with women who inspire me on the daily.

I expected some heavy panting, but I didn't expect to experience a major development in the bond I have with my co-workers. Because I had the Merrell hiking shoes on, I knew it was the right choice in my journey uphill. I was also lucky enough to be accompanied by my work BFF and the leader of our team, Caitie Schlisserman, with whom I have worked side by side since 2015. Unplugging from our laptops and Slack messages opened up time for us to connect and talk about our journey together, one that's deeply rooted in mutual respect for one another and filled with a myriad of inside jokes. (Caitie, if you're reading this, all I'm going to say is, "Wall Street.") We met in our mid-20s and over the last decade have supported each other in developing our careers, getting married, buying homes, and starting families—we have a lot to be proud of in our relationship.

During the hike, we were prompted to think of our origin stories—where we come from, our core values, etc.—but I wanted to focus on the origin of our friendship and how it's developed over time. As Caitie locked arms with me to help me climb the proverbial mountain, I decided to ask her a few questions.

merrell hiking boots

(Image credit: Future)

Nayiri Mampourian: I want to hear your perspective on our origin story. What do you remember about the first day we met, and how do you think that impacts our friendship today?

Caitie Schlisserman: I remember you turned to me while driving and said, "Where have you been all my life?" after realizing how much we had in common. At that moment, I knew our friendship would go far beyond the office. We've not only progressed in our careers together but also grown up together and supported each other through some of the most important moments of our lives. It's sisterhood at its finest.

NM: What do you think is the number-one ingredient for success in your female friendships, and how has it impacted our relationship?

CS: Emotional transparency. I think it's so important in female friendships to speak openly about how we feel without judgment. Because we're so close, we can be brutally honest with each other without damaging our relationship. There have been times when I've called you out because I felt you were getting in your own way, and it was emotional and upsetting in the moment but in the end made our bond closer.

NM: What's your favorite memory of us?

CS: Man, there are so many. But two weeks after you had Sophie, you came to meet me for lunch, and I was so impressed that you were brave enough to venture out on your own with a newborn. I remember thinking how much I wanted to be like you when I had kids of my own.

NM: How did this hike make you feel about taking time to connect with everyone?

CS: I know how important connection is, and nothing compares to connecting with people while being outside. It's refreshing and uplifting, and it's such a nice way to start the day.

merrell hiking boots

(Image credit: Future)

As women, we're expected to wear many, many hats, but arguably, the most important one is the role we play with our best friends and the co-workers we create magic with. We have to support each other to continue this unstoppable sorority we're creating for generations after us. And for the record, I believe Caitie and I were put in each other's lives for a reason bigger than the two of us. When I asked her where she'd been all my life, I meant it.

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Nayiri Mampourian
Commercial Strategy Director