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What does the Spirit of 608 mean, anyway? That’s probably the question people ask the most, and yes, there is totally an answer. It has nothing to do with Madison, Wisconsin or angel numbers or my address or birthday.

Here is the true story:


The Spirit of 608 is a reference to Matthew Robins’ 1985 movie The Legend of Billie Jean, in which a “Texas teenager cuts her hair short and becomes an outlaw martyr with her brother and friends.” I’m a child of the 80’s (okay, my life began in the 70’s, but I am claiming the following decade, too), and this movie – along with many others of that era (hello, Goonies, Karate Kid, Some Kind of Wonderful, I’m looking at all of you…) – formed narratives in my mind that have never gone away.


In the movie, Billie Jean Davey gets into a whole mess of trouble trying to get some jerks to give her kid brother $608 to cover the cost of his bike, which they completely trashed because, well, they’re 80’s-era d-bags in full effect. She ultimately becomes an outlaw and kind of folk hero on the run. She chops off her hair and makes a fashion transformation that was beyond badass in 1985 and is now still badass, but also hilarious.


But the point, the heart of the story, the takeaway message is one of fighting for what you believe in, even if no one understands. It’s a story about an underdog (even if she does look like teenage Helen Slater, the actress who played her) and a misfit who becomes a leader in her own way without compromising or backing down. She’s soft-spoken, but strong. She’s both completely in over her head and completely running her own show.


There’s an element of Billie Jean Davey in each of the women at the intersection of fashion, entrepreneurship, sustainability and tech I interview for the Spirit of 608 podcast. It’s not a direct correlation or linear thing. It’s a little bit of BJD spirit – the Spirit of 608 – that shines through in each of the cool, inspiring ladies I have the privilege of talking to each week.


And if I had to guess, I would imagine there’s a little bit of the Spirit of 608 in you, too.



© Spirit of 608