FBI Director James B. Comey set aside his day job Thursday morning and took the podium at Greens Farms Academy where, as a proud father, he addressed the commencement for the Class of 2015, which included his daughter, Claire.

"I struggled on what to say," said Comey, a Westport resident, explaining that he wanted to give some practical advice to the graduates, so he decided to highlight examples of the characteristics common to successful people.

Success, he told the 78 graduates, isn't just the amount of "dough" someone earns, but is better defined by "those who have lived lives of achievement, joy and meaning."

He then went on to describe four attributes of the successful, peppering his remarks with lyrics from songs by Taylor Swift, Beyonce and One Direction, to the delight of the graduates -- even though some older folks in the audience were unsure of who those musical artists are.

Comey said he knows a lot about people, having hired and fired a lot of them, and helped put a lot of others in jail. "I know the good and the bad," he said.

Successful people, he said, have high emotional intelligence; focus on effective communication; have the confidence to be humble, and value their reputations. Reputations, he said, are like "brick mansions," built one brick at a time.

He also shared examples of lessons he learned from his sixth-grade teacher, including one about "clean speech."

"He wanted us to speak without verbal ticks," Comey said. So every time a student used "ah" or "um" in a sentence, the entire class of 30 students would repeat it. He said it was a great learning lesson for some, but was not sure how others fared because of it.

The same teacher, he said, dared the class to have the confidence to be humble, to ask questions, to say, "I don't know."

Chances are, Comey told the gathering, if you don't know it, others probably don't know it either.

"You will learn in life that, most of the time, people are faking it," he added.

At the start of the ceremony, a drone was flying overhead. So prior to giving his remarks, Comey said he wanted to "squash any rumors" about it, saying it wasn't an FBI drone. He said the federal agency's unmanned aircraft are only used in "predicated investigations with appropriate approval -- and they are not armed."

Comey concluded by saying, "You won't accomplish anything in life without others." The graduates, he said, need to "work to connect and motivate others -- that's the way dreams are achieved."

Several hundred people attended the school's graduation exercises, which were held outdoors under a somewhat overcast sky with a chill in the air.

As is the private academy's tradition, Class of 2015 girls were attired in white dresses and carried bouquets and the boys wore suits.

Head of School Janet Hartwell announced to the gathering a lengthy list of accomplishments by the graduates, including those in science, math and history. The class, she said, is leaving GFA with "a strong, global confidence."

Valedictorian Rui Aguiar, who has attended 10 different schools over the course of his academic career so far, said the most important thing he learned at GFA is that it's alright to fail. "That's something that's shunned at other schools," he said. But, he added, GFA teaches that failure is actually a way to "climb to greater heights." Aguiar, quoting both Henry Ford and Rocky Balboa, added, "It's how one keeps going forward" that matters.

Among those receiving awards at the ceremony, were Comey's daughters, Claire and Abbey. Claire Comey, chairwoman of the student council, received the Francis Burr Hardon Award given to a senior for outstanding citizenship. Abbey Comey received the ninth-grade citizenship award.