While teaching art at a High School in Seattle, Adam Rosendahl discovered that he could use collaborative art practices, intentionally curated music, and meaningful prompts to help students let go of their criticism of themselves and each other, build connection, and eventually shift the culture of the entire classroom. He took this model from the classroom to the community and now inside of organizations across the world with his company Late Nite Art [LNA].
Over the last 12 years, Late Nite Art has evolved and now helps build connections in a hybrid workplace, making onboarding more human and supporting retention in this chaotic time. They use curated soundtracks, storytelling, and their signature concept of having a seat at the table [both virtually and in-person] to help build real friendships in the workplace in minutes.
Adam's arts-based methodology has been adapted internally as a teaching tool inside Stanford University and LinkedIn, impacting the lives of thousands. Today, he works alongside his team of masterful facilitators, using non-traditional tools to build bridges and unlock creative confidence.
We got an opportunity to sit down with Adam and talk about LNA's work, impact, and partnership with DH.
Adam: "One of the activities we lead is called 'Board of Advisors,' which has been an incredible way to help create a collaborative environment where people solve each other's problems. What starts to happen is that people realize they can get some incredible advice and new ideas from people inside the organization they would never normally ask for support. What often happens is that people lean into their curiosity. They get excited about each other and get reignited about the possibilities available for their team. It can help teams become a more connected kind of community.
I remember seeing the CEO of a private equity firm getting advice from an intern who had just started one week ago. I don't think that would ever normally happen. That kind of relaxed space releases the hierarchy inside of an organization. This allows people to share their unique perspectives and wisdom in a way that gets people to think differently."
Source: LNA Case Studies
Adam: "We recently did an event with the Adobe Design team, which is based worldwide. In one day, we did three separate events in three different regions [America, India, and EMEA]. One of the memorable moments happened when my co-facilitator and I led a group of Indian designers through a movement exercise called "Mirroring Movement." I played a Bhangra song during that activity, and the smiles, laughter, connection, and how engaged the entire team was beautiful to watch. It was getting the entire team in sync. We had so many comments and feedback after about how enlivening it was and how connected people felt. This was not a team that normally moved together. They appreciated the musical element of what we were doing."
Adam: "The name of our organization is a little deceptive. It says Late Nite Art, but what we do happens at all times of the day, and it's not specifically about art. We are all about accelerating connection and creativity in the workplace. When people walk into a Late Nite Art event, they see art supplies on the table and immediately think this is going to be one of those wine and paint things, which couldn't be anything further from the truth. We do a highly facilitated production that is all about building meaningful relationships and helping people support each other's problems that they're facing personally and professionally. We often have to break through that level of resistance or skepticism people have when they see art supplies on the table and let them know that this is not an art workshop-this is not about drawing pretty pictures. There's something much deeper that is happening here."
Adam: "The top challenge almost all our clients have is "we feel disconnected and siloed. We feel like we don't know each other. Many of our teams have no idea what the others are doing."
Number two is around onboarding. As people are coming into organizations, figuring out how to make onboarding more human and not let people fall through the cracks. As people are coming in and feeling anonymous or like a number, they're not necessarily feeling seen and heard in the process. So we help clients with that.
And the final thing is leadership alignment. How do we help a group of executives and the folks running an organization feel extremely connected and on the same page with each other personally and professionally so they can do their best work?"
Adam: "The shift that happens is we take a team that may be strangers or surface-level colleagues, isolated or siloed, and we move them to a space where people feel real friendships with their colleagues. They feel a real sense of connection. That's a memorable shared experience. They feel like they're part of something bigger. So the impact of what we do is that it helps people connect, and those connections last far beyond the 90 minutes or two hours. I've had participants come up to me seven years later and talk about how they remember every little moment they had during a Late Nite Art event and even the conversation they had with their colleagues."
"We're modeling a creative approach to facilitating meetings, off-sites, and events. Our facilitators use a lot of different modalities in these activities. We give people a guidebook after we leave to support and empower our clients and the participants in our workshops to bring a bit more to their meetings with music and art forms to make it more interactive, engaging, and connective no matter what they're doing with their team."
LNA video captured by: Kevin Wolf
Adam: "In 2012. I moved to Fairhope, Alabama, and for the next six months, I was a wilderness instructor leading 12-day canoeing trips with groups of court-adjudicated teenagers. These were young people sent by their parole officer to do this program, which they did not opt into. We were teaching them leadership skills. It was an incredibly memorable and challenging experience because I didn't feel like I was fully trained to deal with the level of intensity that was happening in the middle of the woods and on the river. It really pushed me as a facilitator and a leader to step into my power as well. And also to step into being a coach for some of these young men around how to make better choices and de-escalate their anger. It was something I will never forget."
Adam: "It's always tricky for me to answer this question, but during the pandemic, there was a short film made by my friend Ivan Cash called A Social Distance. In this three-and-a-half-minute film, he had people film themselves from over 40 different countries while they were in lockdown during the most intense moment of the pandemic. People were on every single continent talking about the loneliness that they were feeling and the moments of joy. I get goosebumps thinking about it. Still, in that really short video, he captured the humanity and the shared experience during the pandemic. It humanized it and made me feel connected to everyone worldwide who was going through the sort of loneliness I was experiencing."
Adam: "Today, I'm just returning after co-leading our first three-day LNA Facilitator Training. This is a huge deal for me personally and professionally. I brought six new facilitators from across the globe [Germany, the UK, Massachusetts, Detroit, San Diego, and El Cerrito] to the Oakland Hills. I led them through a training to certify them as new LNA facilitators. It blew open my expectations. A true community was formed with this group of six facilitators beyond just being connected to the Late Nite Art methodology and getting more experienced and confident in leading our practice. They built very deep and meaningful relationships with one another. They kept saying, "we are a team." They used the word team over and over again. After working by myself for so long, it's a beautiful moment within our organization, and I feel like we're at the beginning of building a sustainable and powerful team."
LNA video captured by: Gani Naylor
Adam: "I think in 2017 or 2018, there was a serendipitous connection between one of the consultants at DH and Late Nite Art. We ended up working together, and there's just been a series of amazing coincidental connections where people who have worked in DH also end up working inside of Late Nite Art in some capacity. It feels like a very harmonious partnership between our two organizations. Part of that, I think, is based on this strong belief in valuing people and seeing people as human beings beyond the role they play at work, and creating the environments and spaces for people to live in the wholeness of themselves. That's something I value, and I found that everyone I work with who's connected with DH has a similar shared value system around connection and around seeing the humanity and people outside of just the structure of work."
Adam: "LNA can offer a memorable and powerful 90-minute or two-hour experience that puts values into action and acts as a culture reset. After COVID, bringing teams together is extraordinarily important. It's more than just doing their strategic planning. Emphasizing the connection is more important than ever, and we can do that in an extremely short period of time. We can help teams connect in a way that they'll never forget. That can act as the new moment to begin the new structure of the team after they've hired and when people have moved on. Wherever teams are in the process of working with DH, what LNA does can be both a catalyst and a new beginning, or it can also be a powerful period or an ending integration moment after doing all of the work they've done with Delivering Happiness."