Book Review: The Four Legs Of The Table

It’s true you know, that phrase: “Not all readers are writers, but all writers are readers.” I can’t express with words just how much I enjoy reading. Being an aspiring novelist, I challenge myself to read genres that are outside my comfort zone. I find reading enriching, for so many reasons other than a good vocabulary and acquiring new information; to me it is living many lives all at once.

I am, among other things, an aspiring entrepreneur, so I naturally enjoy reading books that equip me with skills and helpful information to tackle the business world. As you can imagine, my list in the ‘business mogul biography’ genre is quite extensive. Unfortunately, I can only write about one at a time. This one is titled The Four Legs Of The Table, written by Denise Prichard, on behalf of Raymond Ackerman. In short, it’s a simple and straight-forward formula for success.


Raymond Ackerman who?

Before reading this book, I was also not familiar with the man, his successes and failures. The first thought that came to mind when I tried associating the terms ‘business’ and ‘Ackerman’ was the South African clothing retail giant Ackerman’s, and I was right on track! Well, Mr Raymond Ackerman cannot be credited with establishing Ackerman’s (though his father can). Having come from a retail background, Raymond Ackerman went on to create another one of South Africa’s retail giants, PicknPay. His etical business philosophy, modesty and pragmatism have even seen him become the only South African to be rated among the World’s Most Respected Business Leaders in New York in the year 2004. In the literary world, he’s better known for his best-selling biography Hearing Grasshoppers Jump.


Let’s talk about the book…

The book is, in essence, a master class in business management and success. The first few chapters focus on the mentors who shaped the man we know today. We then get to delve into “The Four Legs of the Table”. Raymond Ackerman talks about how this principle that focuses on customer sovereignty has resulted in the giant that is PicknPay. He swears that putting the needs of the customer ahead of making profits, ironically results in more profits. Without giving too much away, I can tell you that the legs are: Administration, Merchandise, Social Responsibility and People. These ‘legs’ each play an equally important role in ensuring the success/ balance of a business. Get a copy if you want to learn about this in detail.


Remarks and opinions…

This is a wealthy well of knowledge for anyone who aspires to take on the retail industry in South Africa. While the book is based on the food retail industry, the principles provided are easily adaptable for any retail market. I enjoyed the relevance of it, some of the obstacles PicknPay faced are unique to South Africa. I simply understood and related. definitely a good read.


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