1743 – The World of Online Content with George Huff of Opal

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the Chief Executive Officer & Chief Founder of Opal Labs Inc, George Huff.

Huff wide

Opal is a company that has carved a niche for itself by aligning marketing organizations with varying levels of complexity. Their mission is to help brands reinforce their products and services in the market by solving the challenges of complexity and hierarchy within organizations.

George explained that Opal was born out of the need to manage the explosion of content across channels. He observed the difficulties that large brands faced in coordinating and aligning their content creation efforts, especially within organizations with hierarchies and silos.

This inspired him to start a software company that could solve this problem. Opal began its journey in 2012, working with brands like Nike, Beats by Dre, and the Seattle Seahawks.

George explained that organizations often have different teams responsible for creating content for various channels. This can lead to duplication of efforts and inconsistency in messaging. Opal helps organizations overcome these challenges by providing a platform that connects strategy and execution.

It allows content planning, project management, creation, and visualizing content across different channels. The platform also helps organizations analyze their content saturation and make adjustments before publishing.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Opal: a company aligning marketing organizations with complexity
  • Opal's goal: help brands reinforce products/services in the market
  • Opal trusted by leading brands like Starbucks, Wendy's, Whole Foods, GM, and Target
  • Opal started in response to content explosion across channels
  • Challenges of coordinating and aligning content creation efforts
  • Opal's platform connects strategy and execution for content planning and management
  • Opal helps analyze content saturation and make adjustments before publishing
  • Opal's position on AI and the need for a steering committee
  • Opal's suitability for teams with 20 or more marketers

About George Huff:

George Huff is a tech-savvy entrepreneur passionate about the intersection of business, technology, and design. His career began in web design, showcasing an early affinity for the digital world.

This initial experience paved the way for further entrepreneurial endeavors. George’s career trajectory has been marked by a series of co-founding roles in various companies, indicating his strong drive and ability to recognize and cultivate business opportunities.

A key aspect of his success appears to be his talent for team-building, ensuring he is surrounded by individuals who excel in their respective areas. This strategic approach to collaboration has likely played a significant role in the success and rewards reaped by his ventures.

George’s story reflects an individual with a clear vision, the ability to adapt and grow, and a knack for fostering effective teams.

About Opal Labs Inc:

Opal Labs offers a comprehensive planning platform specifically designed for marketers, streamlining the process of planning, creating, and calendaring content. This platform is particularly valuable for marketing and communications teams, as it fosters high alignment within teams.

By using Opal, these teams can operate with greater efficiency and coordination. A standout feature of Opal is its customer-centric approach, enabling users to view and understand their work from the perspective of their customers.

This aspect is crucial in crafting effective marketing strategies and content that resonate with the target audience. Opal’s platform appears well-regarded in the industry, trusted by teams for its ability to simplify complex marketing processes and enhance collaborative efforts, thereby improving marketing campaigns' overall quality and impact.

The platform is a testament to the importance of understanding and engaging with customers in the digital marketing landscape.

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Opal Labs Inc website at

Check out Opal Labs Inc on LinkedIn at

Check out Opal Labs Inc on Facebook at

Check out Opal Labs Inc on Twitter at

Check out George Huff on LinkedIn at

Check out George Huff on Twitter at

Check out George Huff on Instagram at

Don’t forget to subscribe to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur and thank you for listening. Tune in next time!

More from UpMyInfluence:

We are actively booking guests for our The Thoughtful Entrepreneur. Schedule HERE.

Are you a 6-figure consultant? I’ve got high-level intros for you. Learn more here.

What is your #1 Lead Generation BLOCKER? Take my free quiz here.

Want to learn more about all the podcasts managed by UpMyInfluence? Opt in here.


Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach, or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, it's George Huff. George, you are the co-founder and CEO of Opal. You're found on the web at work with Opal. George. Thank you so much for joining us.

George (00:01:10) - Thanks for having me today.

Josh (00:01:11) - Josh and George, you're based in Portland area, right?

George (00:01:14) - Portland, Oregon.

Josh (00:01:15) - Excellent, excellent.

Josh (00:01:16) - Yeah. Give us an overview of what Opal is and kind of the impact that you have in the world.

George (00:01:22) - So Opel exists to derive alignment for marketing organizations with varying levels of complexity. So it's really how do you take a brand and continue to reinforce what that brand's products and services are in the market, and do that over and over again with all the complexity and layers of hierarchy and silos within organizations, how do you solve all that complexity and make it smooth? That's what we've been doing for ten years, and it's a gnarly problem to solve. But we are hot on the trail.

Josh (00:01:46) - Yeah, according to LinkedIn, you have quite the industry respect and reputation. And similarly, I'll just point out for our friend this listen to our conversation. Opal is trusted by leading brands everywhere, including a list a few. By the way, let's play the drinking game. If you hear a brand that you know, take a drink and by the end of this, I think you're going to be real happy about Opel's authority in the marketplace Starbucks, Wendy's, Whole Foods, GM, target three, and a bunch of others.

Josh (00:02:17) - Where did Opal start and how did you become the size organization that you are today?

George (00:02:25) - Great question. You know, going back, putting my time machine hat back on and kind of thinking all the way back to that initial moment, really what we were seeing was an explosion of content across channels. So at the time I had an agency business and was watching. And just like these gigantic brands try to operationalize for content across social and blogs and everything that they were doing and coordinating all that, getting everybody on the same page was hard enough just to kind of like do the work, let alone watching what would happen in an organization with hierarchy where a CMO or a VP of something would say, hey, what are we doing for X? And then you have to like, go through all the silos and shoulder tap. Everybody and everyone would be like losing nights and weekends. And these people were my friends half the time, right? I'd be like, hey, are we going to go out to dinner tonight? Oh no, I've got to work tonight again because so-and-so wants a thing.

George (00:03:12) - And so I just started scratching at that. And, and at the time really wanted to start a software company because I was kind of in enamored with that business model. And we started chipping away at the problem right there and then, probably circa 2012 or so. But that's how we got started, alongside brands like Nike and Beats by Dre, and a couple other big brands did some work with Pete Carroll and Seattle Seahawks at the time. So just seeing like how this was all coming to life was pretty inspiring. From a problem set standpoint.

Josh (00:03:40) - Can you illustrate the problem that can exist in a lot of organizations when it comes to managing content? And again, you know, when we think about content, we have a responsibility to get that content in all of its varying forms in a lot of different places. That's a the presents a big problem. What do you typically see before a client starts working with you? Like what's going on operationally?

George (00:04:07) - Yeah. Usually what happens is people build their organizations around where those different places content needs to live.

George (00:04:14) - And so what you have are different people responsible for that permutation of content, because big organizations are kind of like on that factory line doing so much of it. You have it like there's like a sort of deviation from the mean as it kind of fans out and fans out and fans out. And so what we'll see. You know, for instance, we work with a large health care organization and conversation had recently was just basically, hey, we had 19 different content teams that were creating content for National Mental Health Month, and they're all hitting the exact same consumer that we all market to. But it was like, our consumer doesn't care that there's 19 of us that are maybe saying things in different ways or whatever it may be, just like we're bridging the same audience with like these 19 groups. And so I guess if would juxtapose the way that I see it, I think that marketing has been sort of, I guess, like stuck with the tools they've been stuck with. Right? You're using general purpose tools that are kind of spreadsheet models to have a check it over the fence from team to team to team, across all these silos like intake forms and all these things that you operationalize around, you're like, great.

George (00:05:15) - We've got sort of martech stack, but I'm of this mind and I've been on I've been like said, ten years on this and just really passionate about like an orchestrated offense from a Go-To market standpoint of like, how are we doing everything that we do? And like kind of almost the planning side. I've been obsessed with this for ten years and think companies that orchestrate just get significant. They kind of do more like, what's the saying? Like put more wood behind fewer arrows, but just do it exceptionally well and create that kind of content that breaks through. So yeah, we work with like the best of the best, and we see the other side too, and we're there to kind of help people kind of move from one to the other.

Josh (00:05:50) - So I guess if I'm trying to describe where Opal is or how this tool then becomes used operationally, is this kind of the central planning and organization for all things content? Or maybe you can define that a little bit more accurately.

George (00:06:03) - Yeah. The way that high level we're building a platform for design for marketing, period full stop that is connecting strategy and execution.

George (00:06:11) - So there are many facets in that, right? There's some there's content planning. There's some light project management in there. There's content creation. So like actually visualizing your content in our platform as you can see it all alongside all those different channels, like what's it going to feel like for our consumer that's going to get hit with all these messages? Is it consistent? Is it on brand? Is it the message we want to be saying? Are we. And then being able to see everything together, like the firehose of everything going out the door all at once on a calendar to say, hey, are we over saturating our audiences? Is it too much? Should we turn it down here and turn it up here? And just just sort of like all of that stuff before it goes to like actual publishing tools that like, put that content in the channels that it needs to be in.

Josh (00:06:46) - And obviously, I think there's probably been some evolution of your platform over the past year or so, simply because in the market, I think that there's more demand for.

Josh (00:06:57) - Okay, cool. But we have so much new technology in, around AI that it would be foolish not to make that a central piece of how we think about content. Maybe you could just give us like a quick, I don't know, state of the Union, I think would be a great way to present this in terms of, you know, thinking about where AI fits, especially with some of these larger enterprise level organizations. I'm really curious what you're observing and where you see if you're looking in your crystal ball, where you see things going over the next six, 12, 18 months.

George (00:07:32) - Yeah. I mean, think that's that's such a it's such an interesting place and could talk on it for hours because, you know, we're dealing with large organizations that have a significant amount of like they're careful about how they approach these kinds of things, especially because it's such a hot topic. And so for us, we really want to be able because we're already like one of their known vendors. We have long term partnerships with all of our customers.

George (00:07:52) - So we know that they trust us to kind of bring to them in a way that isn't scary. Right. And so we have to be really principled in how we do that. So I'll kind of talk about like what we're doing, and I'll talk about some of the headwinds we face. Right. So the first thing is what is I really, really good at. Right? It's really good at ideas. It's like the perfect brainstorming partner, tons of ideas and no ego. And so how do we kind of bring the ability to idea around ideas, even like concepts all the way to like lines of copy and content all the way to like variations for you know, that we've see like things like ChatGPT do very easily. So for us it's like, how do we bring all the power of ChatGPT into our platform in like a million different places? Because it just sort of makes sense, because it is content and is really, really good at content writing, specifically the image side of it. I'm not totally sold on, you know.

Josh (00:08:42) - We're getting there.

George (00:08:44) - If you try.

Josh (00:08:45) - Those hands are just too weird.

George (00:08:48) - The hands are weird and letters are weird. Once they figure that out, we're good. Yeah. So think that, like for us, it's like, how do we help you across things like translations and ideas and tonality and just bringing like allowing you to like, because our platform is not actually a publishing platform. It's a planning platform. It allows a thousand flowers to bloom and you kind of pick. The biggest ones are the best ones and you really get good. You kind of changes the nature of your organization. You, you go from, we got to build a factory line to keep up with all these requests for content to now content, you can do it faster. So like you're actually not building a factory land. You actually want to build an editorial function that is really good at taste. And so like taste and marketers as editors is actually significantly more important in an AI world. And so how that plays out is going to be really, really interesting.

George (00:09:33) - But we think we're in a really great position because we've got all the sort of necessary context to bring in and really thoughtful, safe ways. Yeah, and that's what we're doing. Right. The other side of it is like, what do we run into? Well, our position on AI is not figured out. We got to get a steering committee together to see if we're going to do this. And so we kind of have in the world of enterprise software, which we are, you kind of have like, you know, small words in contracts like page 15 where you're like, you can't bring in a new, you know, thing like AI unless you like, have a conversation with us. And so there's just awesome. We can just turn it on and there's all that. And so I think a lot of people are still figuring it out and think in the enterprise, what we've found to be true is that you can't just, like, roll out a feature and update and then have everybody just, like, jump on it.

George (00:10:18) - Yeah, because in the enterprise, people are kind of waiting to be told how they're supposed to use things like that's it's so process oriented at big companies. So that's kind of an interesting thing. Think smaller teams that are more nimble, that are able to like smaller companies, solopreneurs, those folks can just like get going with these tools and really extend their output a ton. It's pretty incredible.

Josh (00:10:39) - What level size organization does it start to make sense that Opal would be a great platform for them?

George (00:10:46) - You know, I think it's interesting because Amazon had like a famous like two pizza box meeting size or something like that. Like I think that if like, your team can fit in a room together, that Opal is probably overkill for you. But you know, that kind of changing to right is the nature of our platform changes. And that's kind of there's a whole like bunch of things that could unpack in that statement. But let's just say that historically, 30 or more markers on your team, 20 or more markers on your team Opal starts to make sense.

George (00:11:14) - You have like ten people in a room, five people in a room. It makes less sense, right? But our product is also evolved a ton. You know, over the last year we've introduced capabilities that are, you know, more freeform, less about, like getting visibility and a calendar and more about just like planning and brainstorming and, you know, sort of briefing that kind of thing is obviously really would be really valuable. Like if we gave it to your team, you would get a ton of value and don't think you have a three person marketing team. So think the nature that changes. But generally speaking, it's like 20 or above our sort of core.

Josh (00:11:44) - And I'm curious, George, you know the world of enterprise level sales and marketing. What do you do today for growth? You know, obviously you have such a great reputation. You kind of look at what's still out there, you know, in the market. Obviously there's a lot available. But how do you continue to grow the company?

George (00:12:03) - You know, I think there's sort of like the sales and marketing side of it.

George (00:12:06) - Like how do you break through? You know, what we're finding to be true is that post-pandemic, more and more people are wanting to get FaceTime. And FaceTime was kind of our bread and butter before the pandemic. Pandemic kind of hurt us because like, digital marketing wasn't something that we really got a lot of result at because enterprise buyers are just a different mindset, right? They're kind of looking at Forest Report and all that kind of stuff, Gartner, waves, etcetera, etcetera to make purchasing decisions and categories that are sort of well defined. We're emergent, like there's not really anything that's quite like Opal, because so much of what people do that solves what Opal solves for they kind of are pulling off the shelf generic things to do. So we're kind of a new beast. And so think that part of it is how do we break through in a new category creation? It's just tough to do in the enterprise space. But like we continue to to do that, we get in from of events.

George (00:12:53) - We get a lot of people, a lot of referrals, like a lot, most of our customer network is like customers all come through word of mouth, which is good. We're on your podcast, so hopefully that's going to lead to some sales and marketing growth. Oh, you better.

Josh (00:13:04) - Believe it will.

George (00:13:06) - Yeah. But like on the other side of it though is innovation. And so I'm more of a, I suppose, a creative CEO than am a sort of financial CEO. And I'm really, really big on how do we kind of continue to drive innovation in our category, adopt things faster than the next, you know, company and really like just bring our customers what they didn't know they needed until they saw it and then they couldn't stop thinking about it. That's kind of how I've always operated. And we're really on a tear right now as a company. It's just awesome to see what my team is doing.

Josh (00:13:34) - Congratulations to our friend that's been listening our conversation right now. They likely know those points of contact, or they may be at that point of contact and listen to this podcast.

Josh (00:13:43) - Just kind of part of their research. And now they've listed our conversation. Where do they go from here? They're like, okay, I'm interested in kind of that next step.

George (00:13:53) - Yeah, well, there's kind of two things. And one is we have a free trial for any of your listeners. So if you go to Opal show slash thoughtful, you can get to a trial page and kick the tires on our product. But the other thing that I'm really excited about is we commissioned a Forrester report on the category that is emerging around just building a sort of system for marketing teams to connect strategy and execution and drive alignment. And so we commissioned this report. This is actually going to come out very, very soon. So I recommend checking out Opal on any social channel, LinkedIn or whatever. And we'll be talking about that. But it's just a really, really great report that kind of talks about the nature of the beast with alignment in a marketing organization, and sort of how to maximize your impact, and also what CMOs and VP of marketing are thinking about.

George (00:14:38) - So highly recommend waiting. That's I think in the next week or two we're going to drop that in the marketplace. But really, really great bit of information that I think people would love to check out.

Josh (00:14:49) - Well. George Hough again co-founder and CEO of Opal. The website work with Opal, the website that you shared. Correct me if I'm wrong. I think it was Opal dot show forward slash thoughtful. Is that right?

George (00:15:03) - That's correct. Yes.

Josh (00:15:04) - Awesome. Great great great. And again free demo and a lot more information there George. It's been great having you. Thank you so much for all the insights to kind of what you're seeing in the world of content. I believe we are living in such an exciting time right now. The innovations that we're seeing in AI, I think a couple of years from now, we'll look back to where we were a couple of years ago and like, wow, remember that?

George (00:15:26) - Agreed. Great.

Josh (00:15:27) - It's just again, just great innovators like the work that you guys are doing with Opal as well.

Josh (00:15:32) - So thanks, George for joining us.

George (00:15:34) - All right. Thanks, Josh.

Josh (00:15:42) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up my influence slash guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free. You can do that by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or join our Listener Facebook group. Just search for the Thoughtful Entrepreneur and Facebook. I'd love, even if you just stopped by to say hi. I'd love to meet you. We believe that every person has a message that can positively impact the world. We love our community who listens and shares our program every day. Together, we are empowering one another as thoughtful entrepreneurs. Hit subscribe so that tomorrow morning. That's right. Seven days a week you are going to be inspired and motivated to succeed. I promise to bring positivity and inspiration to you for around 15 minutes each day. Thanks for listening and thank you for being a part of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur movement.

We're actively booking guests for our DAILY #podcast: The Thoughtful #Entrepreneur. Happy to share your story with our 120K+ audience.Smiling face with halo


Apple iTunes podcast