The Power of Effective Highlighting and the Key Traits of Successful Product Managers


Hatched by Glasp

Jul 12, 2023

4 min read


The Power of Effective Highlighting and the Key Traits of Successful Product Managers


In the realm of studying and professional roles, two seemingly unrelated topics emerge: the effectiveness of highlighting as a study technique and the traits that distinguish successful product managers. While at first glance these subjects may appear distinct, a closer examination reveals common threads that connect them. This article explores the myths and realities surrounding highlighting as a study aid, and draws parallels to the characteristics that enable individuals to excel as product managers. By understanding the nuances and debunking misconceptions, we can gain valuable insights applicable to both domains.

The Effectiveness of Highlighting:

Contrary to popular belief, numerous studies have found little to no discernible benefit in using highlighting as a study technique (Fowler & Barker, 1974; Rickards & Denner, 1979; Stordahl & Christensen, 1956; Todd & Kessler, 1971). Merely reading the text without highlighting yields similar results in terms of retention and comprehension. However, researchers have discovered that there is potential for improvement when highlighting is employed effectively.

A study conducted by Rickards and August (1975) introduced a novel approach to highlighting by instructing students to highlight only one sentence per paragraph. Surprisingly, these students demonstrated better recall than those who simply read the text. Blanchard and Mikkelson (1987) and L. L. Johnson (1988) further supported this notion by revealing that highlighting while reading led to improved performance on questions related to the highlighted information. However, a trade-off was observed, as the same individuals exhibited poorer performance on questions pertaining to non-highlighted information. Fowler and Barker (1974) even discovered that excessive highlighting correlated with lower test scores, suggesting that indiscriminate highlighting may hinder the ability to make meaningful inferences from the text.

Connecting Effective Highlighting to Successful Product Management:

Drawing a parallel between highlighting and product management may seem far-fetched, but both share a common theme: the need for effective focus and discernment. Just as highlighting every sentence can diminish the value of the technique, product managers must learn to prioritize and make decisions that align with the overall vision of the product.

Successful product managers possess a remarkable ability to identify the key features or elements that will contribute most significantly to the product's success. They exercise their judgment to determine what should be prioritized, much like an effective highlighter selects the most important sections of a text. By focusing their efforts on what truly matters, product managers can streamline the development process and create impactful products.

Furthermore, product managers must lead teams without the authority of traditional managerial power. Similarly, highlighting as a study technique does not grant the reader the authority to change the content but can still enhance comprehension and retention. In both cases, the effectiveness lies in the ability to influence and guide others, utilizing the available resources to achieve the desired outcome.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Develop discernment: Just as effective highlighting involves selecting the most critical information, aspiring product managers should hone their ability to identify the essential elements that will contribute to the success of their products. This discernment can be cultivated through practice, experience, and a deep understanding of the target audience and market dynamics.
  • 2. Prioritize with purpose: Highlighting is most effective when it serves a specific purpose, such as aiding comprehension or extracting key points. Similarly, successful product managers must prioritize features and initiatives with a clear purpose in mind. By aligning decisions with the product's vision and goals, they can avoid distractions and focus on delivering value to the customers.
  • 3. Lead through influence: Just as highlighting does not grant the reader the power to change the text, product managers often lack traditional hierarchical authority. Therefore, cultivating strong leadership skills based on influence and collaboration is crucial. Building trust, effective communication, and fostering a shared vision among team members are essential components of successful product management.


While highlighting may not be the panacea for effective studying, understanding its nuances can shed light on the traits that enable individuals to thrive in various roles, including product management. The ability to discern, prioritize, and lead through influence are critical components that bridge the gap between highlighting effectively and succeeding as a product manager. By incorporating these insights and actionable advice, individuals can enhance their skills in both realms and drive meaningful outcomes.

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