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Find Real Estate Success Through Focus, Drive, and Networking

Clay Hepler
Clay Hepler

You might think that chocolate and real estate have nothing to do with each other. But they are both fundamental pieces of Clay Hepler’s story, the guest on episode 39 of The Executive REI Show. They represent his business ventures, past and present, with a theme of focus, drive, and networking tying them together.

Real estate investing has so much potential to create generational wealth—you know that if you’ve been around the show for a while! But for a newcomer to the real estate industry, it can be overwhelming. That’s why Clay’s experience is so helpful. He’s relatively new to investing in real estate and has a lot to share about his experience. He shows us the importance of staying focused and using networks to achieve success.

Clay’s Story: From Chocolate to Real Estate

As mentioned, Clay is new to the real estate investing world. He started the journey just over a year ago and has expanded his personal investment portfolio to 13 units, including single and multi-family homes and a luxury Airbnb.

But before real estate, Clay was on the path towards a career in government. After working for the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Clay realized it wasn’t the right direction for him. Because government can be hierarchical rather than a true meritocracy, Clay felt that it wasn’t a direct line between input and output.

He moved into the family business which was—you guessed it!—chocolate. He was able to help his family scale the business before moving on to his own projects and ventures in real estate and financial consulting.

Using Networks to Scale a Business

Clay’s family’s business was a small “mom and pop” shop. But they sold high-quality products that people loved. Because of this, and Clay’s tenacity as a salesperson, they were able to scale the business and grow from two to 42 states!

Scaling the business was possible by leveraging networks. Specifically, Clay networked and built relationships with wholesale aggregators in the industry. This allowed him to tap into those established networks of people who could help sell their product.

And whether it’s chocolate or another business venture, scaling a business is important work. Here are a few strategies Clay found to be successful:

  • Leverage pre-existing networks by making the right connections.
  • Build relationships and always focusing on the people who can help you grow.
  • Have a high-quality product or service that “sells itself.” Get it in front of the right people by providing samples (who doesn’t love some free chocolate?).
  • Carefully manage the logistics as you scale (i.e., inventory, systems, processes) as it can be hard to keep up with rapid growth if systems are not in place.
  • Focus on marketing for growth and set up systems that will keep bringing in new business.

Mindset Matters for Real Estate Investing

Like any new real estate investor, Clay had to overcome some initial challenges. His biggest challenge was dealing with the disappointment of missing out on deals. You can put in all the work, make offers, and then miss out on something great. It can be discouraging, especially at the beginning.

But this is where mindset becomes important. If you don’t think you’ll be successful, you won’t. It’s as simple as that! But if you believe that real estate investing can truly change your life and wealth, then the opportunities are there for you to take.

Here are a few tips related to developing a good mindset as a real estate investor:

  • Learn from people who have gone before you. Clay has mentors and a team of advisors who know their stuff and can help navigate some of the challenges of investing.
  • Look at the different types of real estate investing and choose what works for you (i.e., house hacking, partnerships, flipping houses, syndication).
  • Don’t let limiting beliefs hold you back. Look at other people who have been successful in real estate investing. Instead of saying, “I could never do that,” flip the script and say, “If they can do it, so can I!”
  • Have tenacity and perseverance. It might be discouraging to get a “no.” But it’s not always a bad thing! It just means you need to course-correct and try again.

Tips for New Real Estate Investors

When you’re starting out in real estate investing, it can be a little overwhelming. There are so many options and avenues to try, and some people end up taking on more than they can handle. Instead of getting involved in multiple projects from the beginning, choose one thing and become good at it.

As you build wealth, more and more opportunities come up. Clay’s advice is to focus in one area and stick to it, despite the other options that come your way. You don’t want to get “shiny object syndrome,” where you get your fingers in 100 projects all at once!

Clay’s other advice for new real estate investors is to keep it simple. Real estate is simple, but it’s not easy. It’s simple in that there are some fundamentals of the industry that you have to learn. From there, you can expand your knowledge and continue to grow. What’s difficult, though, is staying the course and getting the fundamentals right every time.


It’s always inspiring to hear from someone new in the game. After just a year in real estate, Clay has been able to build a portfolio of 13 units! It shows us that real estate is an excellent option for anyone who is willing to focus on what they want, persevere through challenges, and use their networks to leverage opportunity.

If you want to connect further with Clay, you can find him at or send him an email at And if you’re interested in more podcast episodes, a newsletter, resources, or executive tips, make sure to find us at!

Michael Holman

Michael Holman

Michael has extensive financial and operational experience. He is a licensed Certified Public Accountant and has a Masters of Accountancy from Brigham Young University. Before working at Overland Group, Michael worked at Ernst & Young on some of the largest real estate and technology companies in Utah.
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