Slicked-back hair. Gleaming white smile. Hearty laugh. Smartly dressed. Gavin Newsom, 47, looks exactly what you would expect from a seasoned politician. A talkative, cheerful person, it’s easy to see how Newsom has so much support. His presence immediately takes over any room. Through his smile, you can see how strong-willed he is, which is perhaps why he has made many controversial decisions as both Mayor of San Francisco and Lieutenant Governor of California. This year, he has announced his plans to run for governor in the 2018 election.

When you say yes, amazing things happen, when you say no, it’s predictable.

Newsom grew up with divorced parents. His mother was a strong-minded and independent woman, who had him at a very young age. His father, an active and passionate environmentalist, taught him how to pursue his passions and helped instill the spirit of contribution.

Although Newsom has always had a passion for the environment around him, he struggled with dyslexia, and never considered himself a great student. Throughout high school, he was unsure of himself, but put in all he had to achieve his goals. He graduated from Santa Clara University, class of 1989, with the attitude that he would make a difference. He had many jobs before he entered the world of politics. From a podiatric orthotics deliveryman to a bathroom cleaner to an asbestos remover and a real estate agent, his colorful resume is certainly not limited.

Newsom lives his life taking chances, and not dwelling on the past, which has brought him immense success. “When you say ‘yes,’ amazing things happen, when you say ‘no,’ it’s predictable,” he says.

Today, owning several businesses, Newsom believes that mistakes can be beneficial. He has a policy within his companies each month to give a bonus to the person who has made the biggest mistake. “Motivate people to be accountable to solving problems, mistakes are a portal of discovery,” he says.

At the end of the year, a banquet is held where everyone gets to talk about their biggest fail. Newsom believes that failing is the key to staying motivated and responsible and moving forward. “Don’t fear failure; embrace it,” he said. “Fail forward fast.”