New York Times columnist and author Thomas Friedman spent Monday evening explaining his views on the future of America to a packed crowd of nearly 200 people at Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center. Flashing his characteristic and often-ridiculed rhymes and extended metaphors, the three-time Pulitzer prize winner argued that America must adapt in the ultra-competitive global community, an argument that forms the thesis of his recently released book “That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back.” Below are some noteworthy quotes from the evening:

“The first decade of the 21st century was the worst decade in modern American history.”

“We have seen a country with enormous potential fall into the worst sort of decline, a slow decline, just slow enough for us not to drop everything and pull together to fix what needs to be fixed.”

“The world has gone from connected to hyper-connected…six years ago, Facebook didn’t exist, Twitter was a sound, the cloud was still the sky, 4G was a parking place out there, applications were what you sent to Yale and for most people Skype was a typo.”

“America faces four great challenges. The first is how we look at the world. The second is the merger of globalization and the IT revolution. The third is debt and deficit, and the fourth great challenge is the energy and climate.”

“If you think about all the problems I just discussed — energy, deficit and education — what they all require is collective action. We cannot get out of the problems we face today without pulling together and acting globally.”

“If you want optimism, stand on your head. The country looks so much better up from the bottom up than the top down.”

“We had a formula for success, and it can still work. The history books we need to read are our own.”

“We are really the tent pole that holds up the world, and if that pole buckles or breaks, we certainly believe that your kids won’t just grow up in a different America, they will grow up in a different world.”