In 2016, Pete Parsons visited the HomeAway London office and took an unexpected weekend trip to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The festival was simply mind-blowing and returning to Edinburgh became Pete’s ultimate goal. With a little help from friends and Team HomeAway, he performed at the festival two years later. Pete is sharing how staying passionate about your hobbies can help you achieve a better work-life balance while keeping your personal brand on point.
Q: What is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and how did you get to perform?
Pete: “It started when I visited the HomeAway office in London for a couple weeks and I heard about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from a coworker so I decided to go for the weekend. It’s the largest performing arts festival in the world with over 3,500 performances in August and after that visit I knew I wanted to be part of it. The application process was pretty easy, I just had to pitch my performance to sponsors and wait to see who would pick it up.”
Q: How did you get your start in improv and theater?
Pete: “I’ve been doing comedy since I was in high school and I’ve continued acting in my free time. The comedy show I have now is called “Secret Mountain,” it has a “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” flair, but my show is geared toward adult humor. I also teach improv locally. I ran a few workshops at the McCombs Business School at the University of Texas, Austin and I led a session with our President’s Apprentice group at HomeAway. It was cool getting to share the art of improv with people at HomeAway because I feel like there are many positive elements that can help within the workplace.”
Q: Was it difficult coordinating international travel for a large group?
Pete: “It was a little difficult to coordinate because I had to bring multiple casts from Chicago and the Austin improv community because not everyone has the same number of vacation days. We also had to raise funds to help with transportation and lodging while we were there. My HomeAway team was very supportive with that endeavor. They donated to my fundraiser, hung up “Secret Mountain” posters around the office, and even came to some of my local performances.”
Q: That’s great your team was supportive! Were you nervous about being away from work for two weeks?
Pete: “My manager was supportive from the beginning and never discouraged me for taking that amount of time off. I even offered to work remotely and they were like absolutely not you’re on vacation!”
Q: What was the highlight of your experience at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
Pete: “The highlight for me was just actually accomplishing my goal and getting to the festival. When we plugged in everything for our rehearsal and they started playing the theme song for our show it really hit me that I made it. In the beginning of the week there were just a few people in the audience, but as the week went on more people began to show up and some even came back for repeat performances.”
Q: How did HomeAway and your team play a role in this experience?
Pete: “Without a doubt this would not have been possible without the resources HomeAway offered me such as sending me on my first work trip to London two years ago and being able to take that much time off. It was so nice being able to take two weeks off and not have to think about work at all. I feel like I’m encouraged to pursue my passions in and out of the office. By the end of the festival, I was ready to return to work and my normal schedule. I couldn’t wait to get home and share my stories with my teammates!”
Q: Any advice for someone who wants to take their side hustle or hobby to the next level while working a full-time job?
Pete: “It's important to use your vacation days to enjoy culture and immerse yourself more in your hobby. If you can’t take an extended amount of time off, just take a break and go to an art exhibit, see a local play, or attend an event that’s related to your hobby. I highly recommend going to this festival though if possible, it's truly a fascinating global event. It's great to see so many countries coming together to celebrate art.
You can find Pete at Fallout Theater on Saturday nights performing with improv group “Sweet Lightning.”
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