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Everyone wants to be happy at work, but how do you achieve it? At a breakout session during the 2018 VMworld conference, Amanda Blevins, chief technologist in the Office of the CTO at VMware, walked through some of the core questions that professionals can ask themselves to determine their happiness at work and build their personal brand in the process.

Professionals should start by defining what happiness looks like at work for them, examining both the company itself and their position or title, Blevins said. Regarding the company, you have to consider things like the organization's name, its culture, the industry it is in, or its size. Which of these is important to you and how important is it?

For the position or title, Blevins said, you need to determine if you want to be an individual contributor or manager, or even a mix of both. You should also consider what you want in terms of responsibilities, influence, requirements, and the freedom available to you. However, you should also give more weight to your personal life than your professional life, Blevins said.

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When you think about your job, is it about the title, the money, or the work? It can also be about others (customers, colleagues, etc), or even time away from the job. The only wrong answer to this question is a dishonest one, Blevins said.

Once you have an end goal in mind, you must make a plan to achieve it, Blevins said. A good place to start is by understanding the paths that others have taken. Obtain mentors, do research on the details of your goal, document a career path, and work really hard.

Another big aspect of growing in your career is understanding and building your personal brand. Here's what a personal brand is, according to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos: "Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room."

According to Blevins, you want that talk behind your back to be good and helpful for your career. You need to be deliberate about your brand because it precedes you.

Here are some questions to ask to determine your personal brand:

  • What is my personality?
  • How do I communicate?
  • What is the one thing I'm known for?
  • How do I make people feel?
  • Do people trust me? How quickly?

Ask yourself which of these things are serving you and which are growth opportunities? According to Blevins' presentation, a growth opportunity "is where we have a gap in a skill or way of being. We can specifically identify it and then improve it."

This requires you being honest with yourself and soliciting feedback from others—both coworkers and family and friends. You may not like the answers, but you can use them to grow as a professional.

You must also take steps to align your brand with your professional goals and workplace happiness. This means you must already be performing the job you want to move into. This can be at your current company or another one, but you must fit into the culture and role, Blevins said.

Your brand also makes your career, she said, so continue to understand your strengths and weaknesses and work on them, while also deliberately publicizing your brand on social media, in meetings, at conferences, and more.

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