Kari Loya is an athlete, educator, adventurer, and storyteller as well as an Emmy-winning voice-over artist who works with many Fortune 500 companies. Loya also serves as the Development Director at The Dwight School, an international private school in New York City. He holds an MBA from Columbia University and graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College with a BA in History. He speaks fluent English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Kari lives with his wife and daughter just outside New York City.
How did you come up with the idea for My Top 40 at 40?
Five years ago I started thinking about how to celebrate the big 4-0. I love parties and I love to travel so had a list of ideas, including rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. But then I decided that the most meaningful way to celebrate—a gift to self and my immediate family, really—would be to capture in writing so many of the great adventures I’d already had. It’d also be a chance to reflect on what’s important to me in a fun way, take stock of the first half of my life, and get myself excited about making the second half count as well. I hope the book motivates others to do the same.
Do you have a favorite story?
In the US we love rankings. I love rankings—that’s even what helped spawn the title. But I specifically chose not to try to rank these since each one represents a favorite story from that particular phase of my life. Otherwise, it'd be kind of like ranking your kids.
Now, that said, I’ll confess that “A Steamy Love Story” is near the top. It was the ultimate test—can I use all that I know to conquer the heart of the princess? I think that story gives a good sense of how easy it would be to give up on something, but if you follow your instincts, your passion, it’s amazing what can happen. Also, David Brooks, columnist for The New York Times, recently commented after reading life reflections from hundreds of septuagenarians that the two most important things colleges should teach their students in order to lead fulfilling lives are resiliency and how to choose your spouse. I never would have passed test number two fifteen years ago.
How did you decide to organize this collection of stories?
I originally tried grouping the stories by category—people, places, advice, athletics, etc. Based on feedback, though, I reorganized the stories chronologically and the narrative thread became much stronger. Now you get to follow a bright-eyed, naïve eighteen-year-old into the great big world and accompany him on all his adventures as he becomes a bright-eyed, naïve forty-year-old. Just kidding…I think.
Your stories give the sense that you are always on the move. When did you find time to write them?
Ha! Here’s another case of turning a negative into a positive: I wrote roughly seventy percent of the book on my long commute! The story “The One-Way Run Commute” chronicles the battle I faced when my five-minute walking commute turned into a seventy-five minute commute involving nearly every form of transportation when my wife and I moved to New Jersey. It nearly killed me. But after a year and some creative thinking, the commute became my exercise outlet. Shortly afterwards, I began writing these stories on the train. The worst part of my day has now become one of my favorite parts! The irony is that I’m not sure I would have had the discipline to pull off this project were it not for the dreadfully long commute.