fD Interview


fD Interview: Neil Chethik

May 30, 2008
by Isabel Cowles
FindingDulcinea’s weekly feature offers interviews with intriguing people on the cutting edge of business, the arts, technology and journalism. This week, we talk with men’s-issues writer Neil Chethik about his interest in men’s psychology, how to reach a broad audience online and what he most loves to hear from fathers and sons.

Neil Chethik began his career as a journalist in 1979 and worked for twelve years at various daily newspapers until establishing a dialogue with his readers by publishing his email address in his print columns. After writing several columns on men’s issues—a passion he discovered in his early life—Chethik realized that men all over the country were seeking sources of advice and information about their unique issues. Inspired by the audience he’d garnered as a reporter, Chethik wrote a book about men’s psychology. He now works as a motivational speaker, author and expert on men’s lives.
fD: When did you first get interested in men’s psychology?

NC: My wife was in graduate school and some of her friends formed a men’s group. Before I joined the group, I thought it was normal for men to put up an emotional wall. Then I realized that men’s psychology was a lot more complicated and interesting than that. They helped validate that I wasn’t an oddball for having some kind of inner life.

fD: How did you transition from being a journalist to becoming an expert on men’s issues?

NC: I was one of the first print columnists to print my e-mail address in the paper, which allowed me to interact with my audience for the first time. People responded to my columns immediately and I could answer immediately. I began to have a conversation with my audience that I used to get a dialogue going about men’s issues.

fD: What made you think men’s issues would be a popular topic?

NC: I’d written columns on the topic and I was getting lots of notes and letters from men who lost their fathers asking me where they could find information on men’s issues like fatherhood and grieving. I was really inspired by the Web, because it allowed me to connect and respond directly to so many people. 

fD: How did you develop an audience?

I have a list of readers that I keep who I’ve connected with in 35 different cities. When my book first came out, I went directly to an audience I already had. I still have people who I met online ten or twelve years ago that I send my newsletter to; there are about four or five thousand people on my list now. But I would never give the names to anybody: I believe that if you give away your list you really give away the people who trust you. They’re really who I consider my friends. They’re my closest circle.

fD: What do you find most exciting about working with men?

NC: I really feel like I’m the first one who got to break this story: how men grieve, how to be a good father. All the things that have to do with men’s personal lives. I found a niche that was interesting to me that combines my entrepreneurial spirit, writing and my particular interest and passion in men’s psychology.
fD: What is the most gratifying part of your career?

NC: There’s a message I give every Sunday morning at a church I’m invited to about what sons need over a lifetime from their fathers. I feel most gratified when a father or a son comes up to me and says, “You made me realize all that I have to be proud of.” I love when fathers and sons recognize the impact they can have on each other. 

fD: What is your next project in the field of men’s psychology?

NC: I’m working on a Web site that’s aimed at helping people who are grieving find the Web sites and individuals best equipped to help them. With so many billions of sites, it’s hard to know where to start, and how to distinguish between what’s good and what’s somebody trying to sell you something. Not that they can’t be selling something; but it has to be the best in the field.

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