Q&A with Josh McHugh: CEO and Editor in Chief at Attention Span

Josh McHugh, CEO of Attention Span
Josh McHugh is passionate about every phase of a creative project, from the initial idea to the final expression. Josh’s favorite projects combine deep research, social impact, and the polish of a feature film. We chatted with Josh about the many roles needed to produce something great, as well as his proudest creative accomplishment.

When do you feel most creative?

When I’m traveling. New sights, sounds and environments always spur increased synaptic activity for me.

Is creativity a collaborative process ? What does a team mean to you?

People often think of creative works as springing fully formed from the mind of an individual auteur. But anyone who has gotten a notable creative project out into the world knows that it takes a team. The more ambitious the project, the bigger the team.

Once you’ve got the initial idea, the hard work really starts. You’ve got to make sure there’s a place in the world for the work to go.

What does it take to bring big, bright ideas to life?

Once you’ve got the initial idea, the hard work really starts. You’ve got to make sure there’s a place in the world for the work to go: nail down the format, medium and distribution channels. Then there’s the actual production, whether it’s writing, shooting, recording, editing, coding—usually a combination of several of those. After that, you need to do the work justice by making sure the audience you made the work for knows that it’s available.

What’s your proudest creative accomplishment?

The Future of Sports project, which we created with Delaware North. It’s a deeply researched report on how emerging technologies will change the sports industry, staffed by world-class tech and science journalists and designers. I’ve written stories for a lot of magazines, but to actually create the publication from the ground up, build the editorial and design teams, and see them turn out an amazing product has been really fulfilling. We’re heading into our third edition, and each time the experience feels like a new installation of Ocean’s Eleven.

How do you fuel your creative energy?

I surf, which entails longish stretches of time with no digital distractions. That frees my mind to go deep and build things. I get a lot of fuel from in-person jam sessions with the futurists in Attention Span‘s FWD Group. And from just being around my wife Margaret Johnson (CCO of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners), who is just endlessly creative.

Do you use Dropbox?

Yes. Most recently, my team used Dropbox to create a client video using footage shot by videographers in LA, San Francisco, and Minnesota. The turnaround on the project had to be extremely fast. Fortunately, it turned out that Dropbox was the go-to content collaboration platform for every person involved, which made the process pretty seamless.

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